Friday, March 14, 2008

Hello again

Hello Politizine, howyadoin'? Long time no talk. Yeah, well, I have been pretty busy both professionally and with the family. Priorities, ya know?
I do not normally talk about my professional life out here except in generalities but this week was a bit busy. We had what is called a "TMC Week," which in the newspaper biz means "total market coverage." That is when you send the newspaper to every household to show them what they are missing in an effort to get folks to subscribe. For about two weeks, one of prep, one of actually putting it together, I was killing myself to make it a perfect newspaper, chock full of stuff, tons of pictures, every page as perfect as it could be, like I do every week but only this week it needed to be super special.
As it turned out, 97 percent of the newspaper looks fantastic. Big, bold pictures, great stories, tons of information. But, there were a few things I did not like which hit me like a 2 x 4 after the fact. How did I miss that? Well, you missed it because you wrote four stories and performed an interview for a fifth which was not finished and you did too much work, that's why. I even had to hold one of the stories I had been working on - this huge historical capital projects overview that never came together how I wanted it to. Initially, it was too long - about 4,700 words. I then spliced it down to 2,700 words with an 800 word sidebar and it seemed to miss the whole mission. But, it was good enough. Then, I asked for a big newspaper and got one and there was no room for the history story because I had so much other stuff to put in! Rats!! So, it got held, after I spent weeks working on it. Oh well. I will keep working on it and get it finished for next week I guess.
The moral of the story though is that even if you have a huge deadline approaching, you cannot do everything. Don't kill yourself doing extra work when you have a larger goal to get to. What I should have done was blocked out the entire week and just focused on the newspaper, maybe doing one story. Ah well, everything is a learning process.

Moving on.
Is Jesse Ventura going to run for president? No one knows but he floats the idea in his new book: ["Ventura: Will he or won't he?"]. As I have said previously, I think a Nader/Ventura vice-versa ticket would have been a powerful one. And, as I have also said before, it is too late right now to get in. Even Nader probably waited too long. There are so many state ballots to get on Ventura would need millions of dollars and an army of folks to gather signatures. I do, however, like the aspect of announcing during Wrestlemania. That's funny! And, if all those folks who turn out for matches signed petitions or even collected them, maybe he would get on the ballot in all 50 states. Hmm ... I may have to think about that one a bit more.

Here in New Hampshire, a legislative committee has been analyzing the issue of RFID tags on merchandise in stores: ["Lawmakers Debate Use of RFID Technology"]. This issue came up in the 2005 and was forwarded by this conservative lawmaker, Rep. Howard "Crow" Dickinson, who was ousted in the 2006 Dem rout here.
I covered a couple of the hearings on the issue at that time and I was amazed at how the committee giggled at Dickinson, reps from the ACLU, and others about this issue. RFIDs and transponders are just about everywhere. But the issue is who has control over the implementation of RFIDs and transponders. Ultimately, the consumer should know where these things are and be able to say, No, I don't want that in my clothing, car, whatever. The legislative committee rejected this idea earlier this week.
So, there you have it, a legislative committee in the supposed Live Free or Die state rejects a major privacy measure. Bad precedence.

There has been a lot of talk lately about problems in the music industry. Not only is technology changing things, the sputtering economy is making the purchase of CDs and other entertainment options even more difficult. This doesn't get into the issue of the really bad music major labels and corporations have been throwing out there for decades. I have written about this subject extensively over the years. Some of us predicted their would be declining revenues with record companies even before we knew what an mp3 was.
Essentially, there was a boon and artificial bubble in the industry, when people started replacing all their records and cassettes with CDs. After everyone replaced what they wanted, they stop replacing them. When that happened, the artificial increase in sales evaporated. As well, for the most part, a lot of these sales were pure profit beyond payment to the artist and production of the CD itself. The Credence or CSNY music was already recorded and paid for. There was no huge overhead like there is with a newer artist recording a new record. So, the bump in music industry sales was a one-time uptick which slowly turned down after that.
Instead of realizing this, the music industry started blaming cassette taping and selling of promo CDs by radio geeks - CDs they sent to radio geeks, knowing full well that said geeks would sell the promos at a used record store and use the credit to buy something they really wanted. The industry then managed to put in a tax on blank tape and CDs that we pay to this day whether you are dubbing music or not. Ah, the power of lobbying.
Now, with the technology, it has gotten even worse and the industry's obsession with controlling something it never could has been dubbed the biggest mistake of all time: ["War against Web tops biggest music biz 'screw ups' list"].
Now, the RIAA is trying to siphon more money from radio stations and more control over artist revenue and more of everything as they try to figure out how to survive in this brave new world. Well record companies, welcome to the club.
The beauty of all this though is that with the advent of downloadable songs, the musician can take total control over their careers if they so choose to. Of course, they have to really want it. If they are dreaming of the big payout from the major label, it ain't going to happen any time soon. Those days are gone. But, if you believe in your music and are willing to market yourself and put everything into it, you can succeed. Tons of people are marketing themselves and making money on iTunes and eMusic and have total creative control over what they are doing. This change is so empowering for the artist especially in light of the fact that before, the artist was always at the mercy of some A&R rep. getting them on the label. Now, you are the label and you reap whatever rewards you can muster. It is a beautiful thing.

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