Saturday, January 21, 2012

In North Carolina, corporations are people, my friend

Reading the N.C. public records law the other day I saw a reference to this definition:
"Person" means an individual, corporation, government, governmental subdivision or agency, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, association, joint venture, or any other legal or commercial entity.
That's N.C. 66-152(2), part of the Commerce and Business Chapter in state law. It seems to have been written in 1981 under Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt and a Democratically controlled state legislature.

Something to remember this year when/if North Carolina Democrats bash Mitt Romney for an off-hand remark the state codified 30 years ago.

Update: Some have noted other sections in NC and federal law identifying corporations as people, including Gerry Cohen, the NC General Assembly's head of legislative drafting. It was not my intent to portray this post as a comprehensive review of this issue, nor was I looking to assign blame.

My point is simply that Democrats have signed off on the idea that the law should treat a corporation like a person, much as Republicans have.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

For Google AdSense, competition

Google's stock took a 9 percent hit in after hours trading today because the company committed the gravest of sins: Generating $8.13 billion in net revenue over 3 months when Wall Street analysts wanted them to generate $8.4 billion.

In the aftermath analysts remained fairly bullish on Google, but cited a few chinks in the Internet's behemoth's armor. But something they didn't cite sticks out to me: There has been a sizeable increase recently in the number of companies offering online ad services to small and medium-sized Web sites, a la Google AdSense.

Granted that's just one part of Google's revenue stream. Their search engine dominates the paid-search ad business. They're behind Android phones and apps. They own YouTube, and who knows what Google+ will turn into.

But I run a family of SEC-focused college sports Web sites, including the UGA version, The Dawgbone. We've been contacted over the last few months by three different entities offering the same services as Google AdSense - user-targeted advertising, paid-by-impression revenue sharing and ad performance tracking.

It used to be that Google, and only Google, offered this service, as best I could tell. Believe me, I looked.

Yahoo! has had their own ad service and a partnership with newspapers for years, but they don't work with amateur and semi-amateur content providers. This recent proliferation of companies that do creates competition in a segment Google didn't just dominate, they essentially owned in full.

Is this micro analysis of a macro issue? Granted. A small piece of Google's pie? Maybe. Worth noting that Google saw total ad clicks rise 34 percent last quarter anyway? Absolutely. But the point is, when you're an innovator you have to keep innovating, or the pack starts to catch up.

And it ain't easy.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Conrad Fink, UGA and AP great

Conrad C. Fink, the foreign correspondent, Associated Press vice president and newspaper executive who taught journalism at the University of Georgia for 28 years, died Saturday, according to numerous media outlets and the university's Grady College.

He was something else. He had bushy eyebrows that inspired a range of emotions most easily categorized as "fear." He was quick to the point, usually with a red pen.

He taught generations of reporters and editors the right way to do it, and his lessons will live on, not just through his students, but through theirs.

I was told as an undergraduate that Fink was the only professor at the University of Georgia without a masters or doctorate. He once pointed to a column in The Wall Street Journal's stock listings and told me, "See that? I told them to put that in."

He was a U.S. Marine in the 1950s. He was, as Barry Hollander told The Red & Black, "old school in all the good ways about what journalists should do, and how they should act, and the way they should pursue a story."