Over at the Wall Street Journal today, there’s an article about how the newspaper business is looking to create some sort of intermediary (“To Beat Antitrust Rap, Papers Take Cues From Songwriters” by Russell Adams and Shira Ovide), much like ASCAP or BMI for songwriters, that would monitor a paper’s content, and demand license fees from sites that post, repurpose, and otherwise aggregate said content.
The article mentions that one of the biggest obstacles facing the establishment of a third party entity is actually anti-trust law, which prohibits companies from joining forces to price fix and keep competition at bay. Which to me is sort of a loaded issue, because while there’s certainly a case to be made for big media trying to keep the little guy down, the reality is that the bulk of real news is still coming from big media. It just gets filtered down on so many levels, from blogs, to twitter, and so on.
It’s almost impossible to quantify all the sources that are pulling from this one piece of content– some monetizing it via ad supported business models on websites and the like, some not monetizing it all– all while the originator of the content, and the company that underwrites the creation of that content (via paying that writer a salary, or paying a freelancer, and a photographer and so on) not seeing any real hardline benefit from it at all.
Now some may argue that the content just being out there on the web is free marketing and so on, and I could see a case being made for that. But it’s hard to tell the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times that some small time blogger is helping their brand sell papers in the big scheme of things, particularly when the links get posted on so many blogs that it’s hard to tell where it originally came from. Fact is, crediting on aggregation models is not very effective, nor standardized.
And that’s one of the biggest problems facing music publishers. Sure, some sites pay for blanket licenses. The big ones do. Your Imeems and Myspaces and so on. These are big business, and the agreements are often times a lot more complex than people can even realize. It’s not as cut and dry as a simple blanket license. There’s revenue sharing built into the ad component of the site as well. So it’s really not as easy as just paying a license fee and/or royalty for every time the music is played. The newspaper business will have to take that into account as well. Because those licensing fees may pale in comparison to the site’s overall revenue. And then what’s going to happen? The newspapers are going to come back crying for more money. Just like the labels have done with Google/Youtube, saying they’re not getting enough money out of their licensing arrangements.
The bigger issue, I think, is quantifying the type of “legs” that newspaper content has online. How much news really lives online after a couple of days, and furthermore, if the news does live, will anyone pay to see it?
The New York Times used to make the archives of articles available only via purchase. I was one of the unlucky few who had to pay for content at one point in time, whether it was for a college-related assignment or something else. But how many people would do that on a regular basis? Probably very few. Needing to go into the archives is a very selective thing. It’s not every day that a large body of web users need to look at articles from 1958. Which is probably one of the reasons why they eventually abandoned that model and opted to make everything available for free, monetized instead via advertising. Now that advertising hasn’t yielded the desired results, they’re ready to bail.
Point I’m making is, to create a third party to monitor content would be a great idea, and I think it’s needed. Had I included a quote or something from the WSJ article, I’m technically using WSJ content and monetizing it via google ad sense (I don’t make much from that, but just using it as an example), and WSJ sees nothing from that. I’m using their content to create content, and they get nothing back from it (although I am including a link that is sending people directly to their site).
Practicality is the issue, I just don’t know how practical something like this would be, considering just how much content comes from big media on a daily basis, and how much doesn’t get used for anything. I mean, if I had a news aggregation site, would I pay like a yearly fee for a license to everything from WSJ.com, when I may only use 2-3 relevant pieces from them a week? And would they get royalties or something from me? Like, how does this work?
Overall, it just seems like a mess to me. Definitely needed, but the model has to be worked out.
Tara Parker-Pope has an interesting piece up over at the New York Times Well blog about training for the New York City Marathon with the run-walk method. What is the run-walk method? It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Basically what you do is take your regular timed or distance run, and instead of trying to run the entire length of the workout, you take short walk breaks in between. To be honest, reading this Times article actually gave me some good insight into the way the walk-run method is seen by other runners. Parker-Pope writes,
“I’m using the “run-walk” method, popularized by the distance coach Jeff Galloway, a member of the 1972 Olympic team. When I mentioned this to a colleague who runs, she snickered — a common reaction among purists.”
Now I don’t have too much experience running with other quote unquote “runners,” but I could see how a purist might feel the run-walk method is baloney. Just the idea of running for a minute, then walking for a minute, then running a minute, then walking a minute, and so on, for something like three hours, sounds pretty ridiculous. But it’s not. It’s actually very effective.
One thing I try to tell people who aren’t in the greatest of shape, and are looking to start running as a means to getting fit, is that if you have to know how to run before you can enjoy the act of doing it. It may not be marathon training, maybe it’s just 30 minutes a day to go along with your diet. But you need to know how to run, or else you’ll feel like total crap, get worn down, and incur injuries and just feel fatigued from your exercise. There’s a big difference between running and running yourself ragged.
As a former fat boy, I’m not an advocate of straight running. I can’t even tell you the last time I did a straight run, where I did 6 or 7 miles in a row (granted, not marathon-type training, I admit). At best, you’ll find me running 15 minutes uphill, then breaking for about five minutes of walking, and then another 10 minutes of running, and then a quick 5 minute walk break again. This keeps me fresh and my energy levels steady, my legs don’t get nearly as weary as when I try to do the run straight through. That said, could I do it straight? Yes, I could. And the fact that I still don’t do it says a lot.
Let me give you an example. A few months ago I went to the gym. Normal day there, except I’d gone to bed around 5am the night before, and my legs felt particularly tired. I notice that going to bed after 2am always leaves me in that sort of sluggish zone. But anyway, I get on the treadmill and I just felt that running on an incline on that particular day wasn’t going to be the best idea. So I opted for a flat run, which I think is kind of useless for fat burn, but I’m beyond that point, so it was a moot point. Up until then, on a varying incline between 5-8, I was running a mile at about 7:30. That I was running at 7:30, coming from something like 11 or 12 minutes just a year ago, is saying a lot. But that 7:30 was on an incline. I figured I could beat it on flat surface. But how many miles could I do?
So I started out at a pace of 8.6 mph, which is roughly a 6:58 mile on the treadmill. If the 6 minute mile is the holy grail, for a guy who’s technically not a runner, getting even in the 6 minute range was kind of a thrill. I walked about a quarter of a mile to warm up a bit, and then I knocked out one mile. Then I stopped and walked for a minute to a minute and a half (I wasn’t keeping track really, I just made sure I started the next mile on a whole minute). I continued, ran another mile. Then I walked again. Ran another mile, walked.
Before I knew it, I was keeping up this 6:58 pace, not even remotely tired, and I was about 45 minutes into the run, roughly 5 miles into the run already. I topped out at a little over 7 miles for the hour. The New York City Marathon is 26.219 miles. According to MarathonGuide.com, the average time it took people to finish the New York City marathon was 4 hours and 25 minutes. Now obviously that average is skewed by the people who finish it in much longer times. But just saying, if you can build up your endurance to the point where you can just stay moving on your feet, period, for three hours, the walk-run method should get you through the marathon at a decent pace.