It’s hard to believe that 2017 is already more than halfway in the books. As we celebrate the Fourth of July, let’s take a brief look back at the top five most-viewed stories here at MetalMiner from January through June.
3 Reasons Why Steel Prices Will Rise Well Into 2017. This piece was a hit with readers, raking in the most page views of any story through the first six months of this year. With the steel industry awaiting the Trump administration’s Section 232 verdict, prices are in a bit of a holding pattern (for now).
2017 Steel Market Outlook: Strong Demand for Flat Products Expected. Everybody wants to know: What’s the deal with steel? After Donald Trump’s presidential election, many in the steel industry expected a boost accompanying a proposed uptick in infrastructure projects. Of course, much has happened since this post went live in early January — namely, the Trump administration’s announcement of an investigation into steel imports, using Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act.
3 Reasons Why Aluminum Prices Will Rise in 2017. While steel has been the subject of much of the metal industry’s focus this year, aluminum is also being investigated under Section 232. This post from January predicting a rise in aluminum prices was a popular one with readers.
Welcoming Fouad Egbaria as MetalMiner’s next editor.
With MetalMiner Founder (and Founding Editor) Lisa Reisman taking a chance on bringing in who she thought was a “Tara” to interview for a position back in October 2010, she laid the groundwork for running a Medill shop, as they say.
As a grad student at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism — or whatever newfangled, marketing-driven title they’re now featuring — I had often heard of leading media organizations running Medill shops, in which a number of Medill alums make up the ranks of the respective companies’ employment force. Often, the orgs spoken of were sexy media giants, the Bloombergs of the world, unlike the group of scrappy niche industry blogs with something very unique to offer that I was about to join.
We’ve ultimately brought on four more Medillians (as they’re called, for better or worse) into our fold over the time I’ve been with the company. Sydney Lazarus and Nick Heinzmann, the formidably talented editors of our sister site Spend Matters, both spent time on the grassy knolls of Northwestern’s Evanston campus studying journalism.
But MetalMiner’s editorial team in my time has only ever consisted of Medill grads. After me, the inimitable Jeff Yoders became MetalMiner’s daily editor, whose exploits you can get a better sense of in this post. But if you stick around our search bar long enough (we don’t have infinite scroll — yet), you’ll find MetalMiner’s archives literally overflowing with Jeff’s stalwart contributions to the publication over the several years he spent with us.
Now, with all this before him to live up to, Fouad Egbaria takes over as editor of MetalMiner this week. Though his headshot above may be small, his achievements are not; and his vision (although nascent) of what he plans for MetalMiner, and thoughts on where journalism is going, peek through in our recent chat with him.
Cue the Wikipedia Entry-Style Highlights
Fouad comes to MetalMiner from 22nd Century Media, where he covered virtually everything — from municipal meetings to crime to theater — for a group of weekly hyperlocal newspapers based in the north suburbs of Chicago. He nabbed a National Newspaper Association honorable mention award for Best Sports Story last year.
He grew up in Gurnee, Ill., spending “many summer days at Six Flags or Gurnee Mills”…as one does up there. He established a firm bond with University of Michigan athletics (a man after my own heart), especially football, when he was a youngster living in Ann Arbor while his father taught at the school. Fouad was actually born in Israel, but moved to the U.S. with his parents when he was two months old. He went to high school in Alabama, then back to study with The Leaders and Best for a degree in English, and then on to Northwestern’s Medill. (Even though Fouad is a U-M grad, he has not yet flaunted it — no #Hail hashtags in his social feeds or anything annoying like that, thank goodness.) From what I’ve gotten to know of him so far, he is a sharp, calm, even-keeled presence who will be a fitting addition to our newsroom.
Here are a few other nuggets from our email conversation.
What would you consider your best (perhaps most unconventional) skill?
I’m not sure if it’s my best or most unconventional skill, but I have the ability (curse?) to notice typos/mistakes in just about anything, including that sign in some grocery store express checkout lines (it’s “15 items or fewer”) or on restaurant menus.
When you’re not working, what would you most rather be doing?
I love to read (fiction, non-fiction, print newspapers, news apps on my phone, magazines), I run, I write about Michigan sports and work on fiction writing ideas (whenever I have time). When the weather’s nice, I like to go fishing, hiking and kayaking. Just so I’m not sounding disingenuous with respect to how active my lifestyle actually is, I also binge-watch TV shows, most recently the newest season of “Master of None.”
Which professional sport do you track/cover most closely, and why?
College football (I know it’s not a professional sport, but given the amount of money it generates, it might as well be). I contributed to the Michigan website on SBNation.com for several years, and have my own Michigan sports blog (which unfortunately hasn’t been updated since the end of the NCAA Tournament).
Where do you see journalism going in the next decade?
As long as advertising continues to decline and many readers refuse to pay for journalism, newsroom cuts will continue and already fairly skeletal news operations will become unaffordable and fold. Unfortunately, our national discourse is plagued by a lack of nuance, particularly when discussing “the media,” a term thrown around as if the media is a monolithic entity (it isn’t). Are there journalists — writers, editors and so on — who do bad work (with malicious intent or not) or make mistakes? Sure. But there are also so many talented journalists doing great, inventive work all the time across a wide variety of platforms, from the humble beat reporters all the way up to the high-profile names in news. With the digital tools now available, journalism has never been as fast, engaging and powerful as it is today, and I think that will only increase in the next decade.
Media mergers will continue, big media conglomerates will continue to eat up individual papers and more print publications will likely go under — none of these things are good, in my opinion. But as long as there is news — and there will always be news — there is a valuable place in society for journalism.
What are you most interested in learning while helming the digital pages of MetalMiner?
I’m excited to learn more about metal markets and how geopolitics, the ebb and flow of supply and demand, and the people and companies who make transactions in these markets all intersect. There’s a lot happening all over the world, politically and economically, so there’s almost always something new in these markets, sometimes by the hour or even by the minute.
I know what some of you may be thinking: is running a Medill shop — whether consciously or, in our case, not— too incestuous? We tend to think not, trusting that the quality of the work will bear out the collective decision to run one. But if the President of the United States gets to have his daughter and son-in-law working closely with him in the White House, well, why not?
I had to go through the contemporary equivalent of ritually collecting newspapers’ front pages, and here’s the local’s effort (all the more fitting due to their parent company’s past ownership of the Cubs). Note the time – 1:28 a.m. ET. A long, yet exhilarating, night. Go Cubs Go!
The entire city of Chicago, our company headquarters included, is still in shock.
The lovable, perennially losing NorthSiders overcame the Curse of the Goat and so many other obstacles to take it all: The Chicago Cubs are, at last, World Series champions after 108 years.
Jayson Stark of ESPN put it best when he quipped, “It was suddenly possible to type a sentence that no living human has ever typed: The Chicago Cubs are the champions of baseball.”
I’m still coming out of a wonderful coma-like aftermath of emotions, having watched every pitch and vacillating between several elements of superstition (standing near the TV for top halves of innings, sitting in armchair for bottom halves since Game 5, among several others…don’t ask) as the Cubs and Indians’ seesaw battle jacked my heart rate up and knotted my neck-and-shoulder muscles in the early morning hours.
The fearless leader of our sister site Spend Matters, Jason Busch, wrotethis excellent post-mortem earlier today, so head over there to read a great personal story of the Cubs’ triumph.
But first, share in this #TBT to when my colleague, MetalMiner Editor Jeff Yoders, and I did our parts last season in helping lay the literal groundwork for this 2016 victory:
Music: “All Those Devils…” by Holy Pain (http://www.myspace.com/holypain)
With most metals markets closed, we’ll be spending the holiday with our families and hope you are all able to do the same.
Fireworks that were made possible by metallic salts. Photo: Abode Stock/NinoG.
Fireworks and Metals
Remember that if it wasn’t for metallic salts, there wouldn’t be any fireworks. Strontium carbonate is used to make red fireworks, calcium chloride for orange fireworks, sodium nitrate for yellow fireworks, barium chloride for green fireworks and copper chloride for blue fireworks.
I began my career at Mexico’s only stainless steel mill, Mexinox (now part of the Finnish company Outokumpu), which supplied tequila distilleries with the stainless steel used for fermentation and storage tanks. Tequila is a quintessential Mexican drink and was enjoyed by many a customer visiting the Mexinox plant (off-site, of course).
Source: Katie Benchina Olsen/MetalMiner.
After a tour of the plant, it was only appropriate that we gave our customers commemorative bottles of Mexinox-branded El Gran Viejo Tequila to bring back home to the States. I thought it would be interesting to examine just how stainless is used in tequila production.
Why is stainless steel in tequila production? Of course, stainless vats are a sanitary choice; however, stainless does not impart any additional flavors into the mixture of blue agave juice and the distinctive water called the mosto.
Tequila is distilled twice in accordance with Mexican law. Because no leeching occurs in either the fermentation or distillation process when stainless is used, the resulting tequila “blanco” is clear in color and solely the result of the fermentation of the agave juice and spring water.
The addition of proprietary yeast — and classical music in some cases, finishes out the blend.
A former colleague of mine shared that Cazadores plays classical music in the fermentation room because the sound waves create a soft stirring in the tanks that aides in the fermentation process. Many people describe the resulting tequila after two distillation processes as being light with citrus or aloe vera notes. Blanco tequila is aged less than two months in stainless barrels and then bottled. The darker colored tequilas are those that have been aged in oak barrels which means the tequila takes on the flavors of the wood and the harshness of the alcohol mellows.
Anejo or Reposado?
Reposado is aged two months to under a year, and anejo is aged from one to three years. Once the aging is complete, the tequila can then be stored in stainless tanks again until it is bottled.
Stainless steel is a neutral container that allows the natural elements of the blue agave to be fully experienced. The soil and climate have an impact on the taste of the blue agave hearts.
Tequila from the lowland blue agaves is described to have an earthy flavor whereas the highland blue agaves yield sweeter and fruitier flavors. The other factor in the taste of the finished product is the water which is combined with the blue agave juice.
Just as bourbon has a unique taste because of the limestone in the Kentucky water, tequila has a special taste because the regional water is high in mineral content. Stainless steel allows all of these factors of Mother Nature to mix together to create a unique tequila without adding any of its own character. By the way, Mother Nature had a way of bringing tequila to us, supposedly, by a farmer’s wife seeing a rabbit gnawing on a fermented agave plant, according to the Suerte website. I suppose it was luck “suerte” that brought tequila to civilization.
If you need a last-minute gift idea, look no further than Julia Child and Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia.
Julia feels some steel. Sam G/Flickr
When I visited the historic site in 2013, progress was still — shockingly — slow. Photo by Taras Berezowsky
You see, both icons have recently steered us toward the stainless steel world. Child, for her part, wrote “A Life in France,” which my colleague Katie Benchina Olsen has been reading lately, and in it, according to Katie, Child complains that stainless kitchen knives dull too easily. For its part, the procurement committee of the Basilica of La Sagrada Família, the historic Antoni Gaudí-designed church in Barcelona, Spain, has been sourcing its stainless steel material needs exclusively from Outokumpu since 2013 and recently put out a press release about its supplier relationship with the Finnish producer (although we can’t really decipher the reason for the release, as there’s nothing particularly newsworthy in the whole thing…perhaps a new PO for the next phase of construction, which has dragged on for more than a century?)
At any rate, we thought it funny to riff on an oft-used phrase around the office and in our metals outlook analysis in regards to buying metal forward when prices are falling, which is: “don’t try and catch a falling knife” – in other words, you’re sure to get hurt every time.Read more
With Pepper Construction as the general contractor on the project, Jeff and I wanted to get some eyes on the latest phase of development. So how many tons of structural steel are likely involved here? What are some of the sourcing considerations for an undertaking such as the 1060 Project? And most important, what do the fans have to say about steel sourcing? Listen below!
Music: “All Those Devils…” by Holy Pain (http://www.myspace.com/holypain)
“With stainless steel, we’ve given a traditional material a new expression.”
Using these words, with a backdrop of Epic Music, Apple’s SVP of Design Jonathan Ive concludes his introduction of the Apple Watch with a flourish, in a video featured on Apple’s site.
Screenshot from Apple Inc’s video of the 316L stainless steel used in the Apple Watch…but of course one can’t embed it on their site, so you’ll have to watch it on theirs. www.apple.com
Launched concurrently with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s speech unveiling the Apple Watch this March, a series of videos highlights the “game-changing-ness”(as they see it) of the Watch, but the ones of interest to us were, of course, those that spotlight the aluminum and stainless steel used in the gadget’s construction process.