Journalists and technology writers are enamored with communications technology and tend to portray successful technologies as representing large scale trends. We are regularly presented with news stories and promotional materials about the rise of new technologies and about how their uses create social trend that are significantly altering society.

The release of the new iPhone was recently featured on network evening news, Blackberry has been heavily discussed because its use by Pres. Obama, and Twitter has been featured in numerous television and newspaper stories. The impression given by coverage is that anyone who doesn’t have an iPhone or Blackberry and anyone who doesn’t Twitter is out of touch with the mainstream and being left out of modern society.

These new means of communications offer interesting possibilities, but their consumption needs to be seen realistically. Blackberry, for example, has 14 million subscribers-- about 5 percent of all mobile phone users in the US. iPhones represents about 1 percent of mobile phone users. The number of Twitter users is currently around 1 million, representing only about 3 tenths of 1 percent of the US population.

Certainly those kinds of numbers can create businesses successes for their firms, but we have to be realistic in interpreting their overall impact on technology markets, social interaction, and diffusion of technologies. Not everyone wants to or will be equally wired, communicating, or sharing mundane details of their lives with their friends and the world. Some persons will find communications enabling technologies more rewarding in business and personal terms than other persons.

It is easy to forget the size of market when discussing the impact of diffusion of technologies. Without doing so, however, one gets a warped sense of their role in contemporary life.


The Newspaper Revitalization Act introduced by Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., would permit newspapers to operate as not-for-profit entities under the tax code and is being heralded by some observers as a means of saving newspapers, much as was the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970. Good purposes aside, it is useful to study the act to determine whether it will actually accomplish the goals that are stated as its rationale.

The bill is a small bill, about 435 words, that would amend the IRS Code of 1986 to permit newspapers to be given 501(c)(3) status, thus obtaining tax exempt status and the ability to accept charitable contributions. Currently tax laws do not permit newspapers to be operated tax exempt, but they do have mechanisms that permit foundations to own them or support them financially.

Paragraph (b)(1) of the bill would allow general circulation newspapers “publishing on a regular basis” to establish themselves as tax exempt organizations. The language does not limit periodicity so daily, bi-weekly, weekly, monthly, and other combinations would be possible. It would thus permit a range of neighborhood and community non-dailies, as well as dailies to use the mechanism.

Paragraph (b)(2) stipulates that the newspaper contain “local, national, and international news stories.” This section is somewhat problematic because non-dailies, particularly neighborhood and community papers, do not typically carry national and international news and nationally oriented dailies do not typically carry local news. The bill contains no provisions that require local creation of content, thus allowing publishers to fill a paper only with syndicated material or other content produced elsewhere.

Paragraph (c) permits advertising, but limits it “to the extent that the space allotted to all such advertisements….does not exceed the space allotted to fulfilling the educational purpose of such qualified newspaper corporation.” This provision is apparently intended to ensure advertising does not dominate the content and effectively limits advertising to 50 percent of the content. This provision, however, is problematic because daily newspapers and most non-dailies currently contain two-thirds to three-quarters advertising. Indeed the regulations governing Post Office (USPS) distribution limit advertising to 75 percent.

The bill does not require that newspapers have paid subscriptions or even requests to receive the paper, as do USPS regulations, so it would apply free circulation papers.

By giving not-for-profit status to newspapers, the bill would also make the paper eligible for USPS not-for-profit rates, which would permit lower postal delivery rates for such papers than those afforded for-profit papers. This might raise issues regarding the fairness of competition if commercial publishers exist in the market

It should also be noted that the bill makes no provision to limit payments to publishers and editors. This creates the potential for some abuse. A small commercial publisher could use the mechanism to become “non profit” to avoid company taxes by not taking compensation from profits but taking a higher salary instead—effectively letting tax payers subsidize his/her income.

One drawback of using 501(c)(3) status is that entities are not permitted to engage in direct political activities, such as endorsing candidates for local, state, or national office or possibly even taking positions on governmental proposals. This would somewhat limit the scope of content and could lead to IRS investigations if complaints were made to the IRS that a paper was taking sides, was too conservative or liberal, or evidenced some other kind of agenda that was deemed political activity.

It appears that the overall effect of the bill would be limited. It will be appealing to very few dailies and most neighborhood and community papers will have difficulties complying with its content and advertising requirements. Even with tax exempt status, the costs of creation, publishing, distribution of a newspaper probably can not be covered by many publishers with a 50 percent ad limit, unless they are especially effective at raising charitable contributions over time.

The bill appears to be well intentioned, however, it can not solve the problem it purports to address in its current form and creates potential for some abuse.

Import Export Business Resources

This is a quick post on a Saturday night before I go watch a movie.

First, if you are searching for a product to export or sell domestically here
in the USA, you should look for a product line that has the backing and
support of the US Government and what better product than one that
is certified to meet their standards?

The US and the world are looking for products that support the GREEN
movement towards saving and supporting and not destroying the Earth.
If you are not familiar with environmentally friendly cleaning products
and how they are just as effective as other harmful chemical based
products, you should really take a look at the
green cleaning products
company that is advertising on our web site.

One you have viewed their ad (thru the link above) then go to their
main web site and if you have been looking for a line of products to
market in the USA or internationally, this might be it or if you live
in a country where you think these products would sell, contact the
company and see what kind of deal you can work out with them.
Do it now!

Next, if you have followed my posts here (and you really should
because I have really published a great deal of information FREE
that others would charge you for (see the ARCHIVES by date on
the right side of this blog) then you know that I STRONGLY
encourage you to use the INTERNET to promote your products,
whether you are working as an exporter or importer.

The INTERNET is the marketplace to the WORLD. Whether you
are promoting your own product or marketing another company's
products, the INTERNET is your VERY BEST resource.

The course that got me started about 10 years ago on the net was
only available in a cumbersome 2 ring binder of over 1000 printed
pages and cost nearly as much to ship it outside the USA as the
course itself cost.


Everything is now available on a password protected web site and
includes FAR MORE than they could have ever included in the
printed version AND due to the savings on paper and shipping,
the price has been lowered by $97.00.

This Internet Marketing course is AGES ahead of the one I
purchased 10 years ago and includes the very latest and greatest
information YOU NEED to market products or services via the

Literally, OVER $100 MILLION in international business
experience, strategies, and Internet marketing secrets have
gone into this new 2009 version which is availabe to YOU
WHEREVER you live in the world (it is best to have a broadband
connection due to the number of vides that are included).

The $100 MILLION is what the publisher has done in
International Business using the very same strategies they
reveal to you. Strategies you can use to market your export
or import products and/or services.

Here is the link to FAR MORE information than ever before
at nearly ONE HALF the price and available IMMEDIATELY!

Last, but certainly not least, if you do the SMART THING and
begin using INTERNET MARKETING to promote your export
or import products, you need an easy to use and inexpensive
web site building system with hosting, domain registration and
search engine optimization help built into it.

The best best WEB SITE BUILDING system that I can
recommend to you gives you all of the above and MORE and
right now, they have a special deal going on that you should
check out before it is closed. Literally, you get about 5 times
the value of what they ask from this web building system when
you look at the resources they provide all-in-one package to
help you build and get your web site ranked in the search
engines where someone will find it - go check them out now
while their special is still in effect:

That is it for this Saturday night - I could not contain myself
and keep the information until Monday, so go check out the
above resources and be sure to visit all our archived pages
for free valuable real-life experience lessons from the world
of import and export.

Ron Coble
Coble International Marketing Services


Journalists keep raising the crescendo of the chorus that journalists are losing their jobs and journalism is suffering. They point to the fact that about 10 percent of journalists have disappeared from newspapers since the millennium when U.S. newsroom employment reached a peak of 56,373.

It is true that cutbacks are pandemic these days, and that these employment reductions hit close to home for journalists, but some context is usually useful when considering the numbers and their impact. Let’s take a look at the U.S. numbers.

The American Society of Newspaper Editors has conducted a newsroom employment census for 3 decades and it presents a telling story. According to the latest ASNE newsroom employment figures, there are 22 percent more journalists in newspapers than there were in 1977 (43,000 in 1977; 52,600 in 2007). Even granting employment losses of 2,000-4,000 since the last census, employment is still about 18 to 20 percent higher than it was in the 1970s. That doesn't seem like an industry employment CRISIS, except for those who unfortunately lost their jobs.

If mere numbers of journalists are considered an indicator of quality, the growth of journalist employment from 1970s to 2000 should have made journalism extraordinary in the 1980s and 1990s. No one should have been surprised by the savings and loan debacle, the Soviet Bloc collapsing, the international debt crisis in developing nations , U.S. aid to governments in central America and the Iran-contra affair, child labor in the developing world, the explosive growth of Chinese economy, or rising domestic and international terrorism. But we were surprised and journalists didn't forewarn us. Obviously, the attention of the rising number of journalists was turned elsewhere.

If you look at newsrooms you can see the problem. Most journalists in newspapers do everything BUT covering significant news. They spend their time doing celebrity, food, automobile, and entertainment stories. Look around any newsroom, or just the lists of assignments or beats, and you soon come to realize that 20 percent or fewer of the journalists in newsrooms actually produce the kind of news that most people are concerned about losing.

It is not the mere number of journalists that matters; it’s the choices that editors and publishers make about how to use the journalists available to them. Journalists are a crucial resource and how they are utilized has a significant influence on quality. Few newspapers have cut sections or types of coverage, choosing instead to cut throughout the newsroom and not to reassign journalists to the kinds of journalism that matters most to society.

It should also be noted that decisions where to cut employment in newsrooms have not been equally spread among employment categories either. According to ASNE statistics the number of newsroom supervisors has declined only seven tenths of one percent since 2000; copy editors 1 percent, photographers and artists 10 percent, and reporters 11 percent. There may be reasonable rationales for that, but the numbers seem unusually lopsided to me. If there are fewer reporters and photographers to be supervised and edited, one would expect that fewer editors and supervisors would be required and warranted.

Maybe it’s about time that journalists stop whining about their troubles and initiate some internal discussions about how their own newsrooms are structured and operated.

Recession? Depression And The Import Export Business

One of the main questions I get from people who call or email
me asking about starting an import export business involves the
current state of the economy.

Quite frankly and honestly, it is bad and probably going to get a
lot worse before it begins to turn around. Personally, I do not
believe that either political party can do much about it and since
most of them are lawyers, they have little, if any, real business
experience or comprehension of how or what it takes to operate
a business.

If you are contemplating starting a business, make sure it is one
you are really interested in because it is going to be a lot tougher
to succeed now than it was just 6 months ago.

The Import Export Business is not for everyone. YOU must decide
if it is really what you want to do and if it is, make the decision
now to move forward and do it.

If you wait for a politician or government statistician to tell you
when is the right time to get started or when we have "turned the
corner", you are simply allowing another human being dictate your
life's future. A human being, that is what makes up government,
remember that - they are as subject to mistakes, miscalculations,
fraud, waste and abuse and any of those deadheads being paid
billions of dollars while their corporations are going bankrupt.

Take control of your life now, whether we are in a recession or
depression and move forward based on YOU and the intelligence you
were given.

So with that said, I wanted to post an excerpt from a book titled:

The Davis Dynasty by John Rothchild the subject of which is the
Great Depression of the 1930's:

Rothchild writes: "The Great Depression didn't destroy commerce,
any more than the mislabeled Dark Ages destroyed culture.
Zippo lighters, Frito corn chips, Skippy peanut butter and
Three Musketeers candy bars appeared on retail shelves in 1932."
People still started businesses. Revlon got its start in 1932,
for instance. "Life went on. People went shopping. Some bought rugs.
Even in the worst of times, Art Loom stayed in business."

Art Loom was the creation of the Wasserman family. It sold rugs.

Recession? Depression?? Don't let it or some government employee
(remember they serve you and I) dictate how you will live out
your life in the coming months and years.

OK, here is one of the latest Questions and Answers from my
email collection:


One of the first products I wanted to trade in construction
materials is cement. I found a company I would like to deal
with because of their size and many locations
around the world. After some weeks of weeding out the
wrong people to talk to, it seems I may have stumbled on
the right person.

If you have the time, I am sending my correspondence with him
and is from last to first of our communications.

I am wondering if you might steer me in the right direction.

All I would need is FOB pricing, depending on quantity,
from any particular manufacturing site they may have around the world.

Do you think he may be asking me for actual orders I may have now,
or just the type of relationship I wish to create with them?


First, you have encountered one of the primary reasons why I
do not like email as a means of making initial contact. It would have
been much more reliable and faster to just pick up the phone and
call this gentleman and it would be my recommendation for any
follow up to either get to an agreement or find out they are not

Second, you have to decide what it is you are, i.e., an EMC generally
buys the product for resale to your importing customers - an export
agent/broker works on a commission basis by bringing the two parties
together and earning a commission from the seller/manufacturer.

Third, back to number one - this gentleman is unsure of what it is
you are asking or requiring of him and his company - a short 5 minute
phone call would clarify that and you would soon know if he is
interested in working with you.

*** NEW ADDED NOTE not in original correspondence - I cannot emphasize
enough about making initial contact by some other means other than
Email. For some reason, our ISP does not like the email
domain name of a long time business associate of ours - despite
approving his domain and email "multiple" times, our ISP puts all of
his emails into the sp*am folder. Some ISP's are even more strict and
delete them outright.

The first part of this question was answered because there had been
multiple attempts to make contact with the supplier by email and
there was then some problem in the supplier misunderstanding the
communication. A quick phone call will alleviate this type of
delay and also help eliminate any misunderstanding of what you are

One additional suggestion - in your calls and correspondence - try
to refer to your business in the plural - we - it just sounds more
businesslike than using I.

Bottom line is that email is a very poor means of making
initial contact, but great means after you have established a
point of contact to deal with. I use both methods but rely more
heavily on phone for initial contacts.


Ron Coble
International Business Marketing Services


Judging from the continuing panicked commentary by big media journalists and commentators, newspapers are dead and dying. They are comatose, the family is gathering at the bedside, and quiet discussions are taking place about whether to disconnect them from life support.

Walter Isaacson writing in Time Magazine last week told us that “the crisis in journalism has reached meltdown proportions” and that we can save newspapers by starting to make micropayments for articles we read online.

David Carr, writing in New York Times, this week tells us that a “digitally enabled free fall in ads and audience now has burly guys circling major daily newspapers with plywood and nail guns.” We need to start charging for news, forcing aggregators to pay, turn away from ad support, and start thinking about new ways of collaboration even if they require a new antitrust exemption.

Jonathan Zimmermann writing in Christian Science Monitors tells us “The American newspaper is dead.” And that we can save its functions by having professors write for the public.

Nickle and dime-ing readers like the airlines? Special treatment from the government? Relying on professors to tell us what's going on? Have journalists gone mad?

It some ways they have. They are panicking at problems in big city media and ignoring the fact that most newspapers are relatively stable and reasonably healthy. The only newspapers experiencing serious competitive difficulties are those in the top 25 markets (about 1 percent of the total) and these are joined in suffering by corporate newspaper companies whose executives have made serious managerial mistakes.

Journalists are sometimes their own worst enemies, and this is one such time. Through overly pessimistic outlooks and sweeping generalization, they may be hastening the obituaries of some weak papers by making readers and advertisers think their serve no purpose today.

Discussion of the newspaper industry’s situation is confused because many observers do not separate its short-term problems with the economy from the challenges of long-term trends. Then they compound that problem by using papers as examples of industry developments that are unrepresentative because of their market situations and managerial errors.

Most newspapers continued making profits up to the current financial crisis and many papers whose parents went into bankruptcy were doing likewise. They will make profits again when the recession ends as they have done in the past.

The Rocky Mountain News did not die because the newspaper industry is in trouble, but because it was the secondary paper in the market and the joint operating agreement was not enough to save it. Several other JOA papers are on their way to oblivion for the same reasons. The Journal Register Co. and Tribune Co. went into bankruptcy not because its newspapers were unable to survive but because its management took on far too much corporate debt.

Clearly, large metro papers are suffering from the effects of competition from television, cable, and Internet. But that same pain is not being felt by most of the nation’s papers that operate in small and mid-sized towns and are the primary or only significant provider of news in their communities. They will continue to survive for many years because their content is unique and because their local advertisers are not well served by other media options.

What we need is a dose of realism in the discussion of the journalistic situation today. Most papers are NOT in the hospital, let alone comatose. The dead and the dying may be there and if so it is because they can't figure out how to give readers something worth paying for.