What to invest in now?

So, awright, we have a real new president. Some in the kommentariat found his Inaugural Address “average”.  Others, such as the NYT’s editors, gave it carefully weighted yet eloquent praise.  I enjoyed the sobriety, the quality of the language, not too everyday, not too clerical or esoteric.  Above all, I like the call to collective responsibility and Obama’s view we don’t need to choose between our security and our principles.  In other words, no torture.  The Statue of Liberty can uncover her eyes, wipe her tears of shame.  And maybe join the crowd and cry for joy a little.

Back to work.

The alchemy of users stickiness

“You’ll see. Time spent on sites will settle the issue of audience measurement. That is where everyone will ultimately come to an agreement”. Thus spake the head of Mediametrie /NetRatings in France. Last week, we were having another passionate discussion about the way we measure websites audiences. My view: the always changing methodology, the discrepancies between site centric measurement (software at the server’s root that tracks clicks) and the user centric measure (a polling system such as Nielsen’s), all contribute to the confusion — and to the resulting deflation of advertising prices. His point: there is no perfect system, we’re in the throes of a continuing evolution, and we are working relentlessly to improve our measurement methods. Well. More

Seven statues for Steve Jobs

For this week’s Monday Note, the plans was to calmly traverse the field of investment opportunities as redefined, upended is a better word, or narrowed, by what is shaping up as depression.  I used to write recession or recession/depression but, now, even the Washington sages are now losing their calm.  Today, they’re conceding: the bailout plans aren’t working, the banking universe is stuck: the hundreds of billions aren’t rebooting the system, banks aren’t lending enough to businesses and individuals.  Next step: more taxpayer money into a government bank tasked with buying toxic assets.  Sigh… More

The Upcoming Catharsis of 2009

How about a contrarian view of 2009? After a while (say, five years) we might come to view this year as highly beneficial to the information industry. Why? Three reasons:
-    It will force news organizations to stop procrastinating and implement life-saving  decisions.
-    It will accelerate radical change.  What was supposed to take several years will happen in one.
-    For the surviving players, 2009 might yield a bigger piece of the pie.

This is all very speculative and, unfortunately, will entail casualties, drama, human misery and a dramatically thinner journalistic herd.

Let’s have a closer look. More


Last week’s dismissal of Healthcare as one of the subjects to watch in 2009 was met with strong retorts. Difficult, confusing, fraught with ideology, demagoguery, logomachies, it doesn’t matter, readers write back.  This is the most important topic of all, without health, nothing else counts, look at how much of the GDP gets into healthcare. More

Blogging, a new journalistic genre ?

Over this new year, one of the most interesting developments on the Internet will be the continued evolution of blogging. Starting as little more than populist rants, blogging has already transcended its origins and grown into a fresh new journalistic genre, one that is likely to become the main engine of modern news sites. Two recent anecdotal observations lead me to this conclusion. More

Things to watch in 2009

No predictions, no forecast, that’s above my pay grade, just sifting through this coming year’s most interesting trends.  The Chinese curse, May you live in interesting times, being upon us, we might as well try and make the best of this New Year. More

Numbers to keep in mind

This article is part of an occasional serie featuring interesting raw data. Use the tag “numbers” to see the previous entries.
No predictions for this last 2008 issue. We all know what’s ahead: a difficult year, with double-digit drop in revenue for newspapers. A year that will see many news outlets simply wiped out. There will be opportunities, though. But for different types of organizations: smaller, leaner, and more agile. Flexibility will be a key factor. It will favor small companies or business units able to focus their reduced investment on what matters and cut the rest. Big organizations will stay absorbed in navel-gazing restructuring ruminations; their old-fashioned managements will keep forgetting that, even more in hard times than in good ones, speed is essential. We’ll come back with facts and figures next year. Today, I just want to offer interesting numbers, worth keeping in mind for the rough times ahead. More

Energetic Feedback

Last week’s column got me the most energetic feedback – so far. Some dislike what they call my negativism, my being a non-believer in a bright future for new energies, others think I’m wrong to call the electric car an out-of-reach dream.  Look at ethanol, a green replacement for Foreign Oil, look at the Tesla, right in my Silicon Valley backyard.  Add a few ad hominem barbs and the picture is complete.
This is understandable.  The general topic of new energies, of our dependence on foreign oil, of lowering CO2 emissions, of replacing today’s gas-guzzling vehicles with electric ones is loaded with strong emotions.  One doesn’t have to be a climate scientist to worry about the effects of dumping ever-increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.  Some of us criticize China for burning more coal than the US, Europe and Japan combined in its 541 coal-fired power plants.  Sure, but how do we convince the Chinese they shouldn’t aspire to the same level of electric power consumption as ours?  And India and Indonesia…  Add oil prices rising to $145 a barrel before falling below $40.  Both climate and economic ruin threaten us. More

2000-2015: the parallel stories of two modern newspapers — Part II

[Previously]  — The Journal and The Chronicle. Two good national newspapers. Different management styles, different backgrounds, different ways for handling the digital era. For both, 2008 proved to be a tough challenge (Part I is here). Unfortunately, all we’ll soon see, 2008 was comparatively easy.

2009-2015 — Near-death experiences (and experiments)

January 2009 — At the Journal, a quick situation assessment:
No surprise, here. It’s bleak: for the entire year, advertising revenue is down 19% for print and copy sales revenue dropped by 4%. Overall, print revenue is down by 15%. Online revenue grew by 13%, but since it represents slightly less than a quarter of the total operations, the entire company revenue is down by 10%. Profit is gone. The group is in the red, its core business bleeding and no immediate improvement in sight. More