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Would you like fries with that headline? 29 August 2000 Edition
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Readers Say
Should CNN and BBC be trusted to sell products? - Rob

Have Your Say
The online news industry is facing a rather significant problem... how do you make money out of something (news) which is being given away for free on thousands of websites around the globe?

A couple of years ago such sites would have replied with a resounding chorus of the word "advertising" -- but that's no longer the case. The unfortunate fact is that it often costs more to create and deliver a page to a web-surfer than the advertising on that page earns.

There's a massive glut of banner advertising on the Internet and the revenues being returned for banner space have drooped from as much as ten cents per view just three years ago to something less than a hundredth of that figure today.

So what are the news sites going to do?

Simple -- they're going to sell stuff -- and this means that your daily serving of news will soon be accompanied by a rather significant side-salad of products and services being flogged through on-site e-commerce.

Research indicates that news providers are seen to have an aura of respectability and engender a level of trust that is ideally suited to transacting online sales -- after all, CNN and the BBC wouldn't rip you off would they?

Of course this might spell bad news for the likes of Amazon.com and other dedicated e-commerce sites unless they can get a piece of the action.

I quietly predicted this shift by news sites towards embracing e-commerce a couple of years ago -- and now it appears that it's coming to pass with a hiss and a roar. In the past week, both the BBC and the Australian ABC have announced moves that confirm their intention to use e-commerce as the critical component in their quest for online profits. Now just watch the rest follow.

But what do you think? Is this the best compromise for web-surfers? Does it make sense to sell golf balls and clubs on the same page as a story about Tiger Woods?

The King is Dead, Long Live The King?
Most of those reading this column will be aware that not so long ago there was a major routing of the ISOCNZ council in an attempt to return power to the members.

The move was largely seen as a success with dozens of proxy votes being used to oust much of the old-school and insert some more sensible replacements.

However, it seems that the expectations of many have not been fulfilled -- as the actions of a few continue to spoil it for the many.

Recently, Alan Brown, currently still the subject of a defamation suit which has the defacto backing of ISOCNZ -- much to the displeasure of many members, was booted off the society's mailing list for exercising his unique form of bluntness and strong opinions. Considering this to be a mere technicality, Brown continued to post his comments using some simple methods for circumventing the list moderator's attempts to silence him.

When it became clear that Brown was not without his supporters, and that the very act of black-listing him had angered other members, ISOCNZ then decided to turn off a gateway that allows the list to run as both an email list and a usenet newsgroup.

When you consider that ISOCNZ is supposed to be in favour of freedom of speech and the use of the Internet to facilitate that freedom -- their recent actions show that the more things change, the more they remain the same -- and that the best efforts of the many can still be ankle-tapped by the selfish and ill-conceived actions of a few with a rather inflated perception of their own judgement and importance.

Sweet Dreams
Domain names -- some are really valuable -- and some aren't. Unfortunately there appear to be a growing list of people who can't tell one from the other.

A month or so ago Aardvark reported that the name NewZealand.com was being flogged for a cool US$7 million and now it appears that 4 your favourite four-letter word is on the block for just $50K. Come on Ross -- aren't you dreaming just a little here? :-)

It looks as if the fools amongst us who might want to spend huge sums on such domains are becoming spoilt for choice eh?

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

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Copyright © 2000, Bruce Simpson, free republication rights available on request