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December 16th, 2009
10:23 AM ET

50on50: My final hours in the 18-49 demo


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Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

My wife broke the news to me. The mail just arrived. I’d received a letter. She didn’t have to say another word. It was less than 24 hours from the moment I’d turn 50. And there it was. The most solid confirmation, short of a birth or death certificate, that I was now being kicked out of the 18-49 year old audience “demo."

The Laugh’s On Me

The only way I can properly convey this moment is to tailor an old joke for the occasion.

A man celebrating his 50th birthday is on a plane with his wife, flying over water.

The pilot announces that one of the plane’s engines has shut down and he’s making an emergency landing on an island in the middle the ocean.

He’s off the radar.

He doesn’t know the coordinates of the island.

They’re lost.

FULL POST


Filed under: Michael Schulder
December 11th, 2009
12:27 PM ET

50on50: The Bible on the Demo


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Rabbi Michael Beyo.

Rabbi Michael Beyo.

Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

Yesterday it was a Nobel Laureate emailing me with ammunition here to take down the 18-49 year old “demo.”

Today, the clergy is beginning to weigh in.

This is what Rabbi Michael Beyo emailed me.

“God understood very well that the 18-49 age demographic is not the real important one, but that the older people are the true demographic to follow.”

How does Rabbi Beyo know this? What evidence does he believe God provides?

I’m glad you asked.

Rabbi Beyo:

“God, in His infinite knowledge – (and in this case we can say His infinite Marketing knowledge) – knew very well how to market to the world His message and His teachings.”

Here’s a sampling of the Biblical messages chosen by Rabbi Beyo that relate to the ultimate demo.

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Filed under: Michael Schulder
December 10th, 2009
01:14 PM ET

50on50: Nobel Peace Prize winner puzzled by my productivity


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Dr. Eric Chivian shared the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in the organization of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

Dr. Eric Chivian shared the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in the organization of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

It’s true. A Nobel Peace Prize winner let me know he’s puzzled by my productivity. No, not today’s Nobel Peace Prize winner. As far as I know, President Obama is not following my campaign to destroy my industry’s worship of the 18-49 audience “demo.” But another winner of the Nobel Peace Prize has been following the series. He sent me an email this week that gives me fuel for my drive to unseat the demo-orthodoxy.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner who sent me the email is Dr. Eric Chivian.  He shared the prize in 1985 for his leadership in the organization International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. His current life mission, as a physician, is increasing awareness of the impact that damage to our environment has on human health. His collaborative work has led to the award-winning science book “Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity.” But first, here’s what he wrote me about the diversity of stories at 50on50.

“Don’t know how you keep them coming, on so many different subjects. Have you stored all these ideas away for the right moment?”

I’ll simply let those questions echo as a testament to turning 50, as I enjoy the final week of my 40s.

FULL POST


Filed under: Michael Schulder
December 9th, 2009
03:20 PM ET

50on50: Guarded at CNN


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Private Patricia George, a security guard at CNN's headquarters in Atlanta.

Private Patricia George, a security guard at CNN's headquarters in Atlanta.

Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

I feel safer now at work than I did yesterday. Not that I didn’t feel safe in the first place. Turner Security is first rate. But something one of the female security guards here at CNN did to me this morning left an impression. It started with a big wind.

First of all, let me give you fair warning. If you ever see the woman in this photo, don’t even THINK about trying to sneak past her. Don’t even THINK about trying to divert her attention from the mission at hand. She will NOT be distracted.

How do I know?

It was 9:57 am this morning. I was walking up the outside stairs to the bridge that only Turner employees are allowed to use as a work entrance.

It was raining this morning, so right there, by the guard’s side, at the entrance to the bridge outside, was a metal stand with about a hundred of those long plastic bags to put your wet umbrellas in so the floor inside doesn’t get wet.

FULL POST


Filed under: Michael Schulder
December 6th, 2009
07:25 AM ET

50on50: Don't trust The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children


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Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

My campaign to destroy the 18-49 demo is based in part on the wisdom I’ve gained as I approach my 50th birthday. There are people in this world you can trust. And there are people you can’t trust. The fact that you cannot trust The Royal Society For The Prevention of Cruelty To Children (The RSPCC) is a lesson for all of us, whatever our age, whatever our profession. It’s a particularly important lesson for journalists.

Just to be clear, there are a number of reputable organizations with names that sound similar to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

There's the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

There's the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

And I imagine there are others I've missed. So who could blame anyone for being favorably inclined to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. For all I know, somewhere in this great big world there is a legitimate, respectable, RSPCC.

But not the one of which I'm aware.

FULL POST


Filed under: Michael Schulder
December 3rd, 2009
11:07 AM ET

50on50: Running for laughs

 

 

 

 

Running coach, Jeff Galloway

Running coach, Jeff Galloway

Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

I just had lunch with a fat kid who took up running for laughs. He made the U.S. Olympic marathon team. Now, he’s a popular and influential running coach. And this week, after following him to the Whole Foods salad bar where he filled his plate with black-eyed peas and steamed vegetables, he and I trampled the 18-49 year old demo.

Exorcising Lazy

The marathon runner I had lunch with is Jeff Galloway. When Galloway was a kid, his father was in the Navy so the family moved a lot. 13 schools by the time he reached 7th grade.

Because of those frequent moves, Galloway never really had a chance to get involved with school sports. As a result, he says, “I was a fat, inactive, lazy kid.”

When they settled for good in Atlanta, 13-year-old Jeff Galloway’s school required the boys to choose a sport.

Galloway says he sought advice from “the other lazy kids.” They suggested track and field because the coach was lazy too. “Tell the coach you’re gonna run on the trails and then hide out in the woods.”

Galloway’s story might have ended there – an overweight kid hiding in the woods. But some of the older kids who he liked on the team insisted he come running with them.

“They started telling jokes,” he remembers. “I ran to keep up with them so I could hear the jokes – and the gossip.”

Drawn by the conversation, Jeff Galloway started losing weight and gaining strength.

FULL POST


Filed under: Michael Schulder
November 30th, 2009
03:05 PM ET

Fly Fishing and Afghanistan

Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

I went fly fishing for the first time in my life this weekend. According to my experienced guide, I made a common mistake that often separates the novices from the veterans. I took back a lesson from that Tennessee creek that applies to every war zone as well as to life’s peaceful endeavors.

Cast Away

As a first-timer, before I got in the creek, I got a quick lesson in basic casting techniques. Two methods in particular. Overhead and sidearm. Knowing how to cast sidearm is critical, I learned, because, when you’re in a stream, there are often tree branches hanging over your head. You’ve got to have a good sidearm cast or your line will get caught in the branches. Makes sense.

Apparently, I’m a natural caster. At least on shore, standing high on the bank above a big pond with nothing to get in my way.

As soon as I was thigh-deep in my waders and the current was rushing towards me and the tree branches were nearly eye level, it became a little more difficult to land my fly where I was aiming.

And then, I made that mistake which separates the novices from the veterans.

FULL POST


Filed under: Beyond 360 • Michael Schulder
November 24th, 2009
02:30 PM ET

50on50: Thanksgiving Day Speed


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Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

I was proudly telling our 30-something year old babysitter of my 30-something minute jog this week in the cold, hard rain. Another example, I thought, of why, as I turn 50, her 18-49 year old demo is finished as a meaningful category. That’s when our babysitter said something that hit me like a cold hard rain.

The Atlanta Half-Marathon

Our 30-something babysitter’s name is Anna. And, apparently, Anna runs more than I do. Not necessarily better. Just more. She’s going to run in the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving Day.

When I told her how much I enjoyed running in the cold rain this week, she asked me if I wore a hat.

A hat? … I chuckled. What kind of hat?

FULL POST


Filed under: Michael Schulder • Opinion
November 21st, 2009
08:00 AM ET

50on50: A tax on a face


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Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

Just as I'm about to turn 50, the Obama Administration and its allies in the Senate are pushing what's been dubbed Botax. A 5 percent tax on cosmetic procedures, like Botox injections and face lifts. I'm actually excited about turning 50. I'm excited about my current life mission to take down the worshipers of the 18-49 year old "demo." So I don't need a LIFT for my spirits. But many do. It's a big deal.

I'm Transparent

On a personal note, as a journalist, I don't think I could ever feel comfortable with a significant cosmetic procedure. I want to be trusted. I don't want to hide anything. Don't get me wrong. I go to work fully clothed.

But the idea of doctoring your face makes me as uncomfortable as doctoring a photo. In fact, in that photo of me at the top of this story, I had the option of having the photographer airbrush out some wrinkles. He could have worked magic with his mouse. But I said NO, after I thought about it for a while. What you see is what you get. I'm turning 50. I want to LOOK like I'm telling the truth.

The Plastic Surgeon's Perspective

Of course there's the issue of empathy. The President Elect of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Phil Haeck, points to women who are out of work and looking for jobs . He says many of them may be at a competitive disadvantage without a plastic surgeon on their side.

FULL POST


Filed under: Michael Schulder • Opinion
November 19th, 2009
06:31 PM ET

50on50: The Worst Time I Was Suckered – Part 2


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Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

As I was saying the other day, I’ve finally spoken with the man whose hoax put me in the most embarrassing position of my journalistic career. The author, Christopher Buckley, had written the faux “news release” persuading me to write a story for Peter Jennings that the Soviet Union was auctioning off the body of Soviet Communism’s founder Vladimir Lenin. Now, 18 years after the hoax, Buckley was on the other line. Or so I thought.

How Can I Be Sure?

I called Buckley at a hotel number “he” gave me. I asked “him,” given our past history together, how could I be sure I was speaking to the real Chrisotpher Buckley? Without missing a beat he offered this evidence: “I’m in Dallas. You dialed a hotel in Dallas. If you go to the SMU [Southern Methodist University] website, you could find that I’m speaking here tonight.”

He was right. I did dial the hotel number in Dallas that he had emailed me. I checked out the SMU website and sure enough, there he was. SOLD OUT.

I was now ready to hear his version of the hoax I fell for on November 5th 1991. “My phone rang an hour before Jennings’ broadcast the following night of November 6th,” Buckley recounted to me. “It was Peter Jennings.”

FULL POST


Filed under: Michael Schulder • Opinion
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