Commentary

FORECASTS

I have a very simple approach to the weather. Years of experience have taught me that summer tends to be warm and winter cold, and I dress accordingly. I try to ignore everything else about the subject.

If it's raining when I leave the house in the morning, I might take an umbrella, unless the sky looks like the rain might let up. Then I leave the umbrella home -- too much trouble to carry and remember.

I do not start taking a jacket in the Fall the first time I'm freezing in too few clothes because the temperature has suddenly plunged. Coats are too much trouble. I wait to add a coat to my daily routine until I'm sure the cooling trend has become firmly established. That usually happens around October 1st.

Similarly, in the Spring I hold onto the jacket for days or weeks beyond the first warm day. I'm into the jacket mindset so firmly by then that I can't shake it just because one nice day gets warm. I usually shed the coat permanently around May 1st.

In this way I have absolutely minimized my need to take action specifically in relation to current weather patterns. As a result of my strategy, I am occasionally rained upon with no protection or freezing with no method of warming up. But, I have saved countless hours of needless weather watching as well as untold numbers of lost and left coats and umbrellas.

So if I hate forecasts, why do we hold an annual Forecast conference to talk about the coming year's media climate? (Forecast 2004 will be held Wednesday this week for traditional media and Thursday for online media.) Well, I AM very interested in longer term patterns we can predict, plan for and/or perhaps change.

Like global warming or a coming hurricane, when you know something bad is going to happen, you can take action to avoid its worst effects. That's what our conference is all about. It is a look into the future at the waves that might swamp us and the currents that might drive us off course. We will focus only on the major trends that we can manage or manage to avoid in order to stay afloat in future seas. The best minds we could assemble from the world of media will be there to help us, as well as the results of our own exclusive research of your opinions and concerns.

We'll be reporting in MediaDailyNews later this week on the results of our debates and the detailed conference forecasts will be completely revealed in the November issue of MEDIA Magazine. So, watch for our best advice about how to plan for your future, coming shortly.

How is it all going to come out? I don't know yet. But, hold onto your hats, I know it's going to be a bumpy ride.

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