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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
 
Friday, May 3 2002

Democratization of the mass media

My curiosity has been tweaked by recent boycotts called by Jewish leaders in their respective cities against the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times over what they perceive as biased (sometimes less than pro-Israel) reporting on the Israeli/Palestinian war. My interest is not in the issues behind the war or the social-ethnic questions raised by the boycotts so much as the economics of newspaper boycotts and the willingness of an outspokenly liberal cross-section of the political spectrum to engage in that way of making its point.

The economics of boycotting relates to what has been our topic this week: the growth of journalistic enterprise through the Internet, and the democratization of mass communication. By that phrase, its users mean the Internet makes a worldwide communication outlet available to anyone who wants it enough to put out a little effort (write a little and use a little available technology). Though the couple of thousand Los Angeles Times subscribers who reported canceling their subscriptions may seem small out of the million or so regular readers the paper claims, each one is reportedly worth about $2000 in advertising income over a year's readership. And in an era of declining newspaper readership throughout the world, any loss in circulation is taken seriously.

But what's significant in that approximate $2000-per-year is the fact that it includes a sizable profit for papers working in the black. Though newspapers generally try to cover the cost of printing and delivering in the per-copy price (it's still 35 cents here in the Bay Area Mondays through Saturdays, and $1.50 on Sundays), many newspapers throughout the world have tried free subscriptions to keep the advertising base high, or raise it by increasing the circulation by delivering to homes without charging anything to receive it. But printing and delivering are expensive.

On the other hand, if you could deliver the paper electronically, through the Internet, two of its biggest overhead items would vanish. The advertising income could all be spent for writers, editors, layout people and cyberspace. And compared to newsprint, cyberspace is virtually (no pun intended) free. It seems that no newspaper is making much if any money on its advertising online, but soon some will get the right formula to make it more feasible than analog home delivery, and print newspapers will start to fade or at least "transmogrify" into new entities used primarily by train and plane commuters, library reading room users and researchers, and will no longer exist in any primary way as home artifacts.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Not necessarily funny, but perhaps amusing "facts"

26. Q. Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of what?
A. Their birthplace.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
27. Q. Most boat owners name their boats. What is the most popular boat name requested?
A. Obsession
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
28. Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter "A"?
A. One thousand
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
29. Q. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers all have in common?
A. All invented by women.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
30. Q. What is the only food that doesn't spoil?
A. Honey

—Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for the day

Do not allow human respect to get in your way when you hear someone slandering his neighbor. Instead, say to him, "Brother, stop it! I do worse things every day, so how can I criticize him?" You accomplish two
things when you say this. You heal yourself and you heal your neighbor with the one bandage.

St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent
525-606

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