Reynolds Weekly: Friday, February 8, 2019

by February 8, 2019

Looking for business stories to cover? We’ve taken recent headlines and put together a list of resources and angles you can use for your local coverage. (Photo credit to Pixabay)

Does cleaning spark joy? No, but organization might…

Author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and star of her own Netflix series Marie Kondo is starting discussions about getting rid of the unnecessary items in everyday life.

However, the process extends to more than the tangible.

Decluttering digital data usually brings to mind going through your computer or phone and deleting non-essential photos, videos, documents, or apps, one slow click at a time. Much to the agony of this CNN business writer, who pleaded Marie Kondo for aid, digital decluttering often takes too much time — time that the average person does not have.

How to start your reporting:

Are there businesses in that help with digital clutter? Is this part of a trend in your area? (On a national scale, Marie Kondo comes from a line of people rolling up their sleeves and guiding people into clearing the non-essentials their lives.)

Beyond simple cleaning tips, the internet also advice for people looking to start their own businesses. Are there people like that in your area? Do they work for a company or freelance? Is this a full-time job or part of a side business? Are they getting more demands?

Also, go back to the physical, such as decluttering apps like LetGo. How many people in your area are using them? Have they had success? How do these apps make money, exactly? (Some are free; some are not.) You can start with a list of related apps here.

New Water-Generating Start-ups

If you remember the water cycle from elementary school, then you’ll know how this new technology works.

Zero Mass Water uses solar-powered panels to collect water from the air, and can even transport water into your kitchen sink for convenient use. On the plus side, this technology can grant people access to clean water, particularly from arid climates.

Unfortunately, the costs are still high for the average resident, and certain weather conditions, such as a certain temperature of humidity, must be met for Zero Mass Water to work effectively. The panels, however, are being used in more than 18 countries.

Other companies, such as WaterGen, don’t use solar technology and hopes to replace water coolers, generating gallons of clean water. Like Zero Mass Water, this product is used in different countries, but also in U.S. hospitals and in the Army.

How to start your reporting:

The World Health Organization reports that 844 million people do not have access to clean drinking water, and the problem will get worse. By 2025, half of the world will be affected, living in “water-stressed areas.” This is already a problem in middle to low-income countries and in the U.S. itself.

For example, although there is a current investigation going on, the city of Flint will have to wait until 2019 to have the lead-infested pipelines replaced. This crisis began in 2014, where the drinking water source for the city changed to the Flint River, where lead water pipes and inadequate inspections exposed over 100,000 residents. (Michigan’s former health director has yet to face charges.)

These technologies may not replace traditional sources, but it can still be useful in areas where water is hard to come by, such as Arizona. It is worth looking into these start-ups and their missions, as well as if they’re being used in businesses or other institutions. How will this affect water-scarce areas?

Ask about costs and effectiveness, and consider the green technology business as well, in the wake of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez releasing an outline of The Green New Deal. (Feel free to check out our articles about The Green New Deal and on the business of water.)

UnitedHealth Group v. “the Big Three” of the Healthcare Industry  

The New York Times announced an ongoing case happening this week, where UnitedHealth Group is trying to prevent one of their former executives from moving to an independent company. This company is owned by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase, intended to deliver healthcare to their own employees.

UnitedHealth Group says that their former employee has acquired “confidential” information from them, fearing competition.

How to start your reporting:

Healthcare businesses have been in the news recently, particularly with big mergers such as CVS and Aetna. (You can read about the top five deals here.)

How does this affect such long-standing companies as Optum, who is competition against Amazon? What other companies are getting into the healthcare business? (To start, Walmart.)

Consider the effect, often referred to as “disruption,” on the overall healthcare industry, but also the patients. Will these mergers really give more patients access to convenient, cheaper healthcare? Will quality decline?

Many Americans, for example, receive healthcare through employers. Why may these people turn to such companies?