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Should be good for the wool Industry

June 14th, 2006

Today’s Fin runs the headline “Investors bale as market mood darkens”.

I assumed this was a subeditor’s error, but a check around the internets suggests that “bale out” is common usage in British English, even though the only suggested etymology (from bailing out a boat) clearly requires “bail” (= bucket).

In other news, the Fin is cutting back its free online presence even further, replacing it with AFR Access, described as

a flexible investment research application that combines our news and analysis with a range of renowned information and data sources and adds rich tools and unprecedented search technology.

This is interesting, given that WSJ and (I think) FT seem, if anything, to be opening up a bit. It’s clear though, contrary to Guy Rundle’s suggestion a while back, that charging for content is going to remain a very minor part of the Internet economy.

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  1. Tony Healy
    June 14th, 2006 at 10:27 | #1

    Surely this is a classic subeditor pun, and a good one.

    In any case, “bale” does have the meaning of to exit, arising from its wartime usage of baling out of a damaged aeroplane, meaning to parachute out. Perhaps the origin of that usage came from the resemblance the cumbersome parachute packs had to bales.

  2. June 14th, 2006 at 10:56 | #2

    I’m with Tony. My understanding was that there were three different versions of “bail/bale out”. Each has a slightly different meaning.

    The first is to bail out water from a sinking boat. Here you are trying to rescue the boat.

    The second is to bale out of a plane. Here you are prepared to abandon the plane in the hope of saving yourself. This seems to be analogous with the investors’ behaviour described in the headline.

    The third is a slightly different construction: to bail someone out of gaol. The difference is that you are saving someone from a sticky situation — for example, you might write, “Howard bails out brother”, rather than “Howard bails out brother’s company”, which is more like the first phrase.

  3. June 14th, 2006 at 10:57 | #3

    Oh, and I came across an interesting discussion on this topic.

  4. June 16th, 2006 at 02:53 | #4

    I’m repeatedly amazed at the number of media organisations who are seeking to charge for content (or for premium content). WSJ, AFR, NYT have all gone down that path.

    It’s short-sited, and they’ll live to regret it. By making their content subscriber-only they are severely restricting the extent to which they will contribute to public debate and discussion. Bloggers are unlikely to make mention of an article, no matter how influential, if they cannot link to it.

    I understand that media proprietors need to make a quid. Of course they need to. And the way to ensure your longevity is to stay relevant and talked about.

    Besides, as I understand it ‘old’ media only makes a small fraction of its revenue through the cover price (analogous to online subscription costs) with most of it coming through advertising, which is just as relevant online as it is offline – indeed more so if you look at the ability to target the ad demographically, a direct result of the need to log-in, even to free news sites.

    This is something they’ll live to regret.

  5. June 16th, 2006 at 10:41 | #5

    Speaking of the Fin, I hope you’ll post a free version of your terrific piece from today’s Review section at some point.

  6. Niccola
    June 18th, 2006 at 16:38 | #6

    Ari’s point is the common one in this environment. But it does not deal with the fact that the internet is the growth ADVERTISING medium. So, if people who create IP don’t get paid from subscriptions AND their advertising sources are shifting to new media, what are they to do? Think of the things you do like about free to air TV, newspapers and mags, etc. In fact, imagine what blogging would be if those things were not able to be funded. Even the venerable Economist is now funded 70% by its subscriptions. And if you look at independent voices, all of the people who write in The Monthly etc are employed somewhere else.

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