The best of times

Rafat Ali photoThe economy is tough and the news business in particular is brutal. The operative word seems to be “retrenchment” at many mainstream media companies. In this environment,’s Rafat Ali says:

“This is probably the best time in history to be a journalist. I know there’s a lot of fear in the industry with all the layoffs and it’s hard to look beyond 2009, but the reality is that the craft of journalism and the need for it is the highest than any time in history…”

He’s got a point. Watch the 10-minute video.

For more about Rafat Ali, see “From starving journalist to creating must-read site.”

(via Wendy Parker / photo by b_d_solis)

What would Mark Andreessen do?

Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape and now hanging out at, in the November issue of Portfolio:

If you were running the New York Times, what would you do?

Shut off the print edition right now. You’ve got to play offense.
You’ve got to do what Intel did in ’85 when it was getting killed by
the Japanese in memory chips, which was its dominant business. And it
famously killed the business–shut it off and focused on its much
smaller business, microprocessors, because that was going to be the
market of the future. And the minute Intel got out of playing defense
and into playing offense, its future was secure. The newspaper
companies have to do exactly the same thing.

financial markets have discounted forward to the terminal conclusion
for newspapers, which is basically bankruptcy. So at this point, if
you’re one of these major newspapers and you shut off the printing
press, your stock price would probably go up, despite the fact that you
would lose 90 percent of your revenue. Then you play offense. And guess
what? You’re an internet company.

(via Mark Potts)

The basement videos

Dr. Helen Smith

Dr. Helen Smith, sometimes known as the “Insta-Wife,” has made her Pajamas TV debut. Smith and her husband, Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds, are doing Internet TV or video from their basement. It’s not that different from what you see on the cable news networks, another sign that the next great media empire may be headquartered on a laptop.

In the ring: Dolly vs Google

Dolly PartonNothing like some star power to spice up a wonkee policy debate: Dolly Parton, among others, has come out against a plan to turn over the space between the digital television channels to a wireless broadband service,

Performers like Parton and sports and entertainment venues fear the Federal Communications Commission’s “white space” plan will muck with wireless microphones.

Parton said in a letter to the FCC:

“As someone who uses the white spaces and knows the value of them for the work that I and many of my friends do around the country, I ask the FCC to recognize the entertainment industry’s valuable contribution to the cultural life. I can unequivocally confirm that the importance of clear, consistent wireless microphone broadcasts simply cannot be overstated. This industry relies on wireless technology and is in jeopardy of being irreversibly devastated by the commission’s pending decision.”

The space would be used by new WiFi devices that could deliver video. Aligned against Parton are Microsoft, Dell, and Google, which has been the most vocal. Google wants the space “freed” so it can make more billions:

When it comes to opening these airwaves, we believe the public interest is clear. But we also want to be transparent about our involvement: Google has a clear business interest in expanding access to the web. There’s no doubt that if these airwaves are opened up to unlicensed use, more people will be using the Internet. That’s certainly good for Google (not to mention many of our industry peers) but we also think that it’s good for consumers.

Who’s your money on?