Adapting to New Business Realities


You've got to prepare to be versatile - Council Grove, KS, June 2009

It occurs to me that I'd be more Web2.0 and put stuff up here more often if I'd just learn to do shorter, quicker posts. With that in mind, here's three things that occurred to me in the past 24 hours - one tangentially linked to the business of journalism, one about the Ashes, and one about Newcastle. If anyone's desperately disappointed by me not banging on for ages about any of these, please do leave a comment. I'm sure I can be persuaded. Don't all rush at once.

First, the link economy. I get the whole thing about links being beneficial to publishers/content providers - makes sense, no argument. The idea of restricting links to your site - by paywalls, shutting down link aggregators, or whatever - doesn't seem logical. But yesterday I was thinking about insurance comparison sites, and the way some insurers don't use them. How does that work? Does everyone know that Direct Line aren't picked up by CompareTheMeerkat et al, so you check the price comparison site, then check Direct Line, um, directly, and you reckon that gives you all the prices? What's the benefit to Direct Line of opting out of all that business that would be being funnelled their way? I realise they'd pay a commission to the comparison sites, but wouldn't they save something by having to advertise less? And how come other companies, which do go through comparison sites, also advertise themselves heavily? Has anyone studied the economics of this in a way that makes sense to the layman? Strikes me that it's analogous to the link economy, and because I want to know how that might work, I'd like to know how this works. Answers on a postcard, etc..

Second, the Ashes. Great work by England in the second Test so far (I'm writing before the start of the fourth day at Lord's), but something's been bugging me about this series and it's time it was addressed. If Kevin Pietersen isn't fit, why is he playing? Don't tell me the selectors have fallen for the Aussie "if he doesn't play you can't win" hype. Isn't this just as stupid as Australia not playing Stuart Clark? Clearly, now that I've said this, Pietersen will score a triple century on the first day at Edgbaston, batting with a runner and using a new Woodworm-supplied crutch. But I'd drop him, put the misfiring Bopara at four, and give Ian Bell a go at three on his home ground. I'd rather have fit people with something to prove than the best player in the world unable to take quick singles, mistiming shots because he can't reach, whose physical limitations are clearly preoccupying him and causing him to play the wrong stroke at the wrong time to the wrong ball. All that said, it's good to see we're not the only ones with problems. You don't like to watch a player struggling, but you've got to gloat while you can: and wasn't Mitchell Johnson supposed to be the new Glenn McGrath, not the new Jason Gillespie? Is this the new Australian game plan - either have your best players retire after an Ashes series, or lose the plot during it?

And, finally, Newcastle. Two wins out of two pre-season, despite not having an owner, a manager, a squad or, it would appear, a prayer. No, Shamrock Rovers and a kind of schoolboy Darlington side aren't necessarily the stiffest competition, but ten goals from a demoralised and directionless set of players is a heartening response. At least the fans know that they're trying, even if the owner is showing about as much interest in selling (and allowing a new owner to sort this mess out) as I have in golf.


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