Dispatches > In Brief

In Brief

News highlights from around the world

Issue: "Dick Armey's parting words," Dec. 14, 2002

Modernism implodes

When demolition contractors implode Cincinnati's Cinergy Field on Dec. 29, they will also be striking another blow against modernism in stadium building.

Cinergy will join the Kingdome, Three Rivers Stadium, and Fulton County Stadium as the latest multipurpose stadium to fall to a blasting crew. The new Great American Ballpark is located right next to Cinergy and will take the old ballpark's place as the first thing drivers see upon crossing the Ohio River from Kentucky on I-75.

We see you’ve been enjoying the content on our exclusive member website. Ready to get unlimited access to all of WORLD’s member content?
Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.
(Don’t worry. It only takes a sec—and you don’t have to give us payment information right now.)

Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.

Part of the stadium came down months ago to make room for the new park's construction. Crews two years ago took down left field and center field stands. Experts say that about 1,000 blasts will level the rest of the park in 37 seconds.

Multipurpose stadiums are one-size-fits-all buildings that fans and teams grew to hate. Even though they were perfectly functional, few miss them at their demise.

Technology vs. pollsters

Many pollsters missed the GOP's surge to recapture the Senate this year, and some analysts say it's because polling is behind the times.

The problem: New technologies that hinder telemarketers also hurt pollsters.

Those "Hi, I'd like to ask you a few questions" phone surveys are central to the polling business. Yet more and more households use technology that drives cold callers away: cell phones, caller ID, voicemail, and the like. This means that crucial demographic groups are harder to reach.

These developments are less harmful to major polling agencies that work with random samples over a long time, but they do cramp instant polls, state polls, and pollsters with small budgets.

Pollsters have found the public less and less responsive to polls over the last decade. Technology only adds to this mix. A rising concern for pollsters is households that use only cell phones and no landlines. | Chris Stamper

Seating showdown

Stadium seating discriminates. That's what a federal court ruled in a case against AMC Entertainment. U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ruled that movie theaters with stadium seating violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Stadium seating exploded during the theater industry's building blitz of the 1990s. Kansas City-based AMC launched a 24-screen multiplex in Dallas with stadium seating that made the design standard fare for multiplexes.

AMC promoted the unobstructed view, saying that the design can "virtually suspend the moviegoer in front of the wall-to-wall screen." That's what got them in trouble.

Bill Clinton's Justice Department filed suit in 1999, claiming that wheelchair-bound patrons are denied good seats and are cramped in the first few rows. This allegedly violated Title III of the ADA.

Judge Cooper agreed: "A movie-theater owner who provides wheelchair seating only in the front rows of the auditorium deprives persons with disabilities of equal access, benefits, and services in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act."

The decision could be a nightmare for theater owners, who may face major renovations to make thousands of auditoriums with stadium seating handi-capable. Usually the good seats must be reached by climbing stairs, which may require replacement. | Chris Stamper

Salon's swan song?

Salon is sinking. The left-leaning online magazine launched as a dot-com stock during the Nasdaq bubble. But the experiment has lost $79.7 million, and has now suffered delisting from the market. Salon was intended to be the beacon of a new class of online writers--and a test of whether new media could stand up to ink-and-paper. Its slant was somewhere between The New Republic and The Nation.

Salon succeeded in attracting a cult following-and it tried to reach those readers with premium subscriptions costing from $18.50 to $30 a year. But Salon hasn't been able to overcome the same problem that traumatizes the entire Internet: ad sales. The strong point of Web publishing is that distribution costs are far less expensive and publication is much quicker. Yet online ads are hard to sell because buyers distrust them. So prices are low.

To keep itself above water, the site tried a curious idea called "ultramercials": A reader who clicks through a lengthy ad receives several hours of free access. (True to the "limousine liberal" label, the first sponsor was Mercedes-Benz.)

If Salon fails, it could discourage other entrepreneurs from trying large-scale Web publishing. The company's stock looks grim. Shares that once sold for over $15 in 1999 now trade for less than a dime. | Chris Stamper

False alarms

Warning! Your computer is not optimized!" Messages like this pop up constantly while surfing the Web. These fake error messages are banner ads pitching software utilities. Now a class-action complaint claims these scare tactics are illegal.


You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading


    Power campaigns

    The GOP is fighting to maintain control of Congress…


    Troubling ties

    Under the Clinton State Department, influence from big money…