We all gathered on the deck, champagne glasses in hand, to say goodbye to Summer. It's a bittersweet scene as the temperature just hit 80 degrees and we are in the 17th day of a glorious, dry weather spell. We all gathered on the deck, champagne glasses in hand, to say goodbye to Summer. It's a bittersweet scene as the temperature just hit 80 degrees and we are in the 17th day of a glorious, dry weather spell. Here in New England we had a non-Summer this year; wettest (with only one named tropical storm) and coolest in decades, and the last two weeks of late summer weather were not enough to make us yearn for the cool days of September yet.
The change of seasons is purely a meteorological thing; I prefer to say psychological. My father, whose genes I share, disliked Autumn. He didn’t like brown (a gene I share); couldn’t stand the leaves’ brilliant fall hues (a favorite saying was "You know what comes next."). He was a Spring person, reveling in the re-greening of the trees and plants; me too.
The season change is, for me, a reflective time. So business news that arrives in the papers and through the Web tends to carry reasons for deeper thoughts, albeit only for a few days.
So while we toast the start of Autumn, I am contemplating a spurt of news concerning certain newspapers' move to curtail free use of their editorial. Trials are underway at a few publishers who are instituting a fire wall on their Websites asking readers to subscribe to a paid content service; one is asking about $4/month/year to access the columns of journalists in their employ. It's known as "pay for content" and it is seen by some as a way to make up for lost print advertising revenue, which subsidizes news gathering and reporting.
It's not a popular idea right now as the thought of charging readers causes circulation managers to envision them fleeing to free alternatives. Some say it's equitable; after all, Google scoops up all the news and distributes it for free, so why pay when you can get it delivered to your computer, and you select the filters.
I presume that readers are intelligent enough to realize that the system we now enjoy is paid for by advertisers. And, yes, the marketing and promotion budgets at these companies are paid for by their customers, so technically the readers are paying for content anyway. But some will say that that is indirect and doesn’t carry the onus of pay-for-content subscriptions. Others counter, without the media resources (no revenue to pay reporters) we’ll all be reduced to getting our news in 140-character Twitter tweets or on Facebook, without verifiable attribution.
I read that Toyota will spend an inordinate amount of money this quarter to advertise their vehicles, in an effort to regain market share. Which means their competition is forced to counter, leading to an uptick in advertising revenues for the next quarter, which may temper the thinking about pay for content. But this may only be a little bubble and after the holidays it’s back to head scratching to figure a way to make up for lost advertising revenues.
Well, I think this is just too deep a subject to address at this Autumnal welcoming party, especially since no one else here is giving it a thought and my frown lines are being compared to my father's.