Tuesday 19 December 2023



Cremation is devil worship by profanely desecrating the human body, which is a good gift from God. Since Jesus died for His elect's bodies, they have yet another reason not to cremate.    I Cor 6:19-20; I Cor 10:20-22

Genesis, the first chapter of the Bible, the holy book of Christians, says in no uncertain terms that God made man in his own image (1, v 26). Catholic interpretation of human beings is that God made man a composite of three parts, the body, soul and spirit. Therefore, each part should be dedicated to His glory and He reserves the rights of how you treat yourself, in life and in death. The Bible forbids cremation. So does the Quran, the holy book of Muslims. The Protestants are ambivalent about post-death formalities and recommend burial. But in the Catholic church cremation was anathema till 1963.

        In May 1963, the Vatican’s Holy Office (now the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith) lifted the prohibition forbidding Catholics to choose cremation. This permission was incorporated into the revised Code of Canon Law of 1983 (Canon # 1176), as well as into the Order of Christian Funerals. It then became standard practice to celebrate the funeral liturgies with the body and then take the body to the crematorium. Most recently the bishops of the United States and Holy See have authorised the celebration of a Catholic funeral liturgy with the cremated remains when the body is cremated before the funeral.

          Post-death formalities are listed by the Catholic church. The body is bathed, cleaned and dressed in spotless clothing. All mourners visit the bereaved and pay their last respects to the departed soul. The coffin is taken to deceased’s church in a procession. A Mass is held in  church and a specific ritual observed. Most often it is a hymn to open the service, a psalm after the first reading, a Communion hymn, and a hymn to end the service. At times, another hymn is sung during the offertory. In a Catholic church hymns are the means of communing with God and requesting the Almighty to take care of the soul of the deceased.

A headstone is a marker that is placed over a grave about a year after the burial ceremony. This is because the deep grave needs to settle and one set of seasons is considered adequate. They generally bear the deceased's name, date of birth, and date of death inscribed on them, along with a short personal message. Many types of stones are used, with marble looking the most elegant, but the prudent man uses a granite headstone. Granite is hard and long lasting. Initially, it requires more work and skill to carve by hand. Modern methods of carving include use technology, with the ubiquitous computer controlling the creation of the letters, numbers and emblems virtually printed on the stone.


  • Do I need to ask permission to be cremated?

No, but it is a good idea to discuss your reasons with your pastor, deacon, or other parish ministers.

  • When should cremation take place?

The Church prefers that cremation take place after the full funeral liturgy with the body.

Sometimes, however, it is not possible for the body to be present for the Funeral Mass. When extraordinary circumstances make the cremation of a body the only feasible choice, pastoral sensitivity must be exercised by all who minister to the family of the deceased. Order of Christian Funerals, Appendix II)

  • What is the proper container for cremated remains?

Appropriate containers (not necessarily expensive) such as a classic urn are proper for the cremated remains. At the present time, the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy has determined only what is not a proper container. Although jewelry, dishes, statuary, and space capsules are now being offered, they are unacceptable in Catholic funeral practices. It is also unacceptable to have your cremated remains made into jewelry, dishes, and the like.

  • Must cremated remains be buried/entombed?

Yes. There are many beautiful options for cremated remains which include a family grave in a cemetery marked with a traditional memorial stone or an urn garden, a special section in a cemetery with small, pre-dug graves for urns, or a columbarium.

  • What is a columbarium?

A common practice is the entombment of the cremated remains in a “columbarium”. It is an arrangement of niches, either in a mausoleum, a room, or wall into which an urn or other worthy vessel is placed for a permanent memorial.

  • May I scatter the ashes?

No. The practice of scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or keeping cremated remains in the home of a relative or friend of the deceased are not the reverent disposition that the Church requires. (Order of Christian Funerals, Appendix II)

  • May anything be added to cremated remains such as the cremated remains of other persons, pets, or other objects?

No. The principle of respect for the cremated remains of a deceased Christian embraces the deeper belief in the individuality of each baptized person before God. Throughout history, the mingling of remains has never been an accepted practice, except in extraordinary circumstances.

  • Who decides if I am to be cremated?

In most cases, you make the decision to be cremated. However, your survivors may decide to have you cremated, generally due to special family circumstances, but rarely against your will.

  • How do I make my wishes known?

You make the decision to have your body be buried or cremated if you prearrange. However, your survivors may decide to have you cremated, generally due to special family circumstances or if they do not know your preference.

  • What funeral rites are celebrated when a person is cremated?

All the usual rites which are celebrated with a body present may also be celebrated in the presence of cremated remains. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has written new prayers and has printed them as an appendix to the Order of Christian Funerals. During the liturgies, the cremated remains are treated with the same dignity and respect as the body.

Canon Law on Cremations

  • Can. 117 S 1 Christ’s faithful who have died are to be given a Church funeral according to the norms of law.
  • S2 Church funerals are to be celebrated according to the norms of the liturgical books. In these funeral rites the Church prays for the spiritual support of the dead, it honors their bodies, and at the same time, it brings to the living the comfort of hope.
  • S3 The Church earnestly recommends that the pious customs of burial be retained, but it does not forbid cremation unless this is chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching.

         A common practice is the entombment of the cremated remains in a “columbarium”. It is an arrangement of niches, either in a mausoleum, a room, or wall into which an urn or other worthy vessel is placed for a permanent memorial.

Cremation Products

        The simplicity, dignity, and affordability of cremation have made it a popular choice among followers of most faiths. Throughout the cemetery, indoors and out, there are wide-ranging selections and memorialization plans for those choosing cremation, providing considerable freedom to personalize the remembrance of loved ones.

        Outdoors, the cemetery provides beautiful cremation garden walks, cremation graves, and garden niches in natural surroundings. Made of the finest granite materials in a wide variety of designs. Producing an enduring memorial in a beautiful, inspirational environment. Both individual and companion spaces are available.

The Rites

        The Catholic Church offers distinct occasions for common prayer at the time of funerals. The Order of Christian Funerals contains three clusters of Rites:

  •     The Vigil
  •     The Funeral Liturgy, and Final Commendation and Farewell
  •     The Rite of Committal

        The Funeral Rites also provide other opportunities for prayer. These Related Rites and Prayers are: Prayers after Death, Gathering in the Presence of the Body, and Transfer of the Body to the Church or to the Place of Committal.

        The Funeral Rites, like all the Church’s liturgy, are primarily worship of God. Care needs to be taken to preserve the integrity of the Church’s prayer, and of the homily while remaining personable and sensitive to those present.

        The Rites for adults are different from the Rites for children and infants. These Rites apply to baptized Catholics, and also catechumens, unbaptized infants, and in special circumstances, those who are not Catholic.

        By family preference or pastoral concern, any single rite may be used as the sole Funeral Rite. Consultation with your priest or parish minister can help determine your funeral selections.

The Vigil

        This Rite presided over by a priest, deacon, or prepared layperson (or member of the family) generally consists of Introductory Rite, Liturgy of the Word, Intercessory Prayer, and Concluding Rite and Blessing. Also strongly recommended is the Office of the Dead from the Liturgy of the Hours.

        The rosary, or a portion of it, maybe included as part of the petitions within this Rite, or preferably, it may be recited by the family at a time other than the Vigil. If the Vigil is celebrated in church, it begins with the Rite of Reception.

The Funeral Liturgy

        The Funeral Liturgy (Mass) is the community’s principal celebration. Generally, the Funeral Liturgy comprises The Rite of Reception (unless already celebrated as part of the Vigil), the Liturgy of the Word, The Liturgy of the Eucharist, and the Final Commendation and Farewell.

        The priest presides at Mass, assisted by a full complement of liturgical ministers – lectors, canto, musicians, servers, etc. These ministerial roles are performed by trained parish ministers or by members of the deceased’s family or friends if properly prepared.

The Rite of Committal

        The Rite of Committal, the final of the Funeral Rites, may be presided over by a priest, deacon, or layperson. It is best celebrated in close proximity to the actual burial place – grave, tomb, or crematorium.

        This rite is intentionally brief. However, if this is the sole Funeral Rite, it may be expanded to include the Rite of Final Commendation or additional music and readings, a brief homily, and petitions.

What Should I Do When a Loved One Dies?

        When a death occurs, after you provide for the initial care of the body of the deceased, the parish should be contacted first.

Is Cremation Allowed?

          Although traditional burial procedure which reflects respect for the body is still normal Catholic practice, cremation is allowed by the Catholic Church for justifiable reasons. Cremation would ordinarily take place after the Funeral Liturgy. These remains should never be scattered or handled in an undignified manner, but are to be interred or inurned in a cemetery columbarium


Monday 18 December 2023



I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire...I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it.        William Faulkner

Mausoleums are an alternative type of memorial, built as free-standing monuments to house the remains of the deceased. This type of memorial dates back to 350BC, where deceased Egyptian kings were laid to rest in the pyramids. Burying the deceased in a mausoleum is known as “entombment”. The Taj Mahal in India is the most famous mausoleum in the world, built by an emperor to honor his favorite wife.

Things have changed in the Christian era. It is traditional to pay respect to one’s dear departed. There are many ways of doing so, and Christians generally bury their lost relative in a solemn ceremony. Memories tend to fade with time, but a visit to the grave the deceased brings back cherished memories since the burial spot generally has a headstone with memory invoking inscriptions thereon. Many Americans opt for mausoleums, depending on the cost factor. Factors that affect cost are quality, with marble the most expensive and concrete the least; decorative work thereon; size and location.The cost of mausoleum for a small individual one is markedly different from the cost of a mausoleum designed to inter generations of a family. A lot of legwork is needed to carry out a research for a mausoleum that meets your criteria. Construction costs should also be reasonable. Mausoleum cemeteries generally offer a large community mausoleum, which would cost under ten thousand dollars since the overall cost would be shared between a fair number of families. Some cemeteries offer space for private mausoleums, which could cost upwards of 100,000$. Interestingly, the only legal way to keep the remains of the deceased on premises is to erect a mausoleum.

A crypt is a burial spot, built to hold a casket in a concrete or stone chamber. It is generally placed beneath the floor, or in the wall of a church, chapel or cathedral. Crypts were originally located beneath churches as early as 600 A.D., one of the most famous being the Old St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.  The concrete or stone chambers in a mausoleum, where the caskets are placed and sealed, are called wall crypts. A lawn crypt, also known as an underground mausoleum, consists of pre-installed vaults that allow for stacked coffins in a cemetery lawn space. A lawn crypt may be made up of several vaults laid horizontally to allow for family members to be buried together. A mausoleum crypt is the chamber within the mausoleum that holds the burial remains, be they cremation urns instead of or as well as caskets. The size of the crypt determines the number of individuals that can be interred in the mausoleum.

A private family mausoleum is an architectural tribute to a family and its heritage. It is a private and sheltered place where you can honor your family members who have passed on. Private family mausoleum may not suit every family, but of late, the demand for mausoleums has increased. If your family is considering such a mausoleum, a lot of legwork is again needed to carry out a research on the type of talented artisans and craftsmen who have the experience necessary to create this kind of memorial. When considering a family mausoleum, it is often helpful to look at a number of different details as you decide on your family needs. They provide families clean interment and a private space for loved ones to visit. Mausoleums can be purchased before they are needed providing reduction of estate taxes and the ability to make a sound and well considered investment.

Advantages of Choosing a Mausoleum Memorial

There are many advantages of choosing a mausoleum to venerate your loved one:

  • Cleaner and dryer than an exposed grave
  • Ideal option for people who prefer not to be buried underground
  • Opportunity to purchase one burial site for family members instead of scattered graves
  • Indoor mausoleums allow family and friends to visit in comfort, as the crypt is protected from the weather
  • Mausoleums also work well in areas of low elevation where the ground is too wet or unstable for graves and caskets. For example, New Orleans is famous for historic above-ground cemeteries as the city’s water table is very high and the area is prone to flooding.

Talking with family and friends before choosing your loved one’s memorial can help you understand if it’s right for them. If you know the deceased didn’t want an underground burial, then a mausoleum memorial could be the right option.

Mausoleum Burial Locations

If you decide you would like a mausoleum, the next step is to consider the burial location.

Churchyards and cemeteries have different rules about the kinds of memorials they allow. Some smaller churchyards may not have the space for mausoleums, or allow them at all, so it’s important to understand the restrictions to avoid being disappointed. Your local Funeral Director will be able to provide guidance on this.

How to Choose a Mausoleum

When choosing the mausoleum, you’ll want to consider the following:

  • Types of mausoleum crypts
  • Material
  • Personalising a mausoleum

Types of Mausoleum Crypts

There are many different types of mausoleum available. To start, you’ll need to choose between an indoor mausoleum or an outdoor mausoleum, and whether you’d like it in a public or private location. You’ll then be able to choose the type:

  • Single crypt: Built to contain the remains of one body.
  • Family mausoleum: Built to contain any number of bodies, ideal for burying one family together.
  • Companion crypt: Built to contain two bodies, like double-depth graves.
  • Columbarium: Like mausoleums, except the niches (wall spaces for bodies) are much smaller, built to contain urns of ashes.
  • Lawn crypts: Underground mausoleums, built to offer traditional in-ground burials with entombment.
  • Sarcophagus mausoleums: Half underground and half above ground, built to keep the body below the crypt.


Granite mausoleums are durable and can be built using different colours and shades. You may choose a white or pale grey granite for the mausoleum’s structure, but a black granite door to finish. Granite mausoleums also have a lower building cost than other materials.

Marble mausoleums are costlier, but their appearance can be worth it. Their creamy finish is much softer than granite.

Personalising a mausoleum

There are lots of ways to personalise a mausoleum. You can have inscriptions added to the roof or walls, or on the front door. If more than one family member is buried in the mausoleum, you can add memorial plaques detailing the names of the deceased.

It’s important to understand the rules and regulations that affect the wording you can include on your mausoleum. These may differ depending on the location you choose. Your local Funeral Director will be able to help you understand what you can and cannot include.

If you’re having memorial jewellery created to commemorate the deceased, you could match any inscriptions to the mausoleum itself. Some family members feel this is a nice way to stay connected to their loved ones who have passed away.


Saturday 2 December 2023




Some eminent writers and scholars argue that too often the media helps promote terrorists' agenda. Others disagree. I tend to go with the former, and in this short Paper, will show how terrorism can be seen from at least two perspectives, those of the victim and the perpetrator. Using three examples, I will prove that the media would not mind terrorist acts coming up on their own on the agenda, however distasteful and disagreeable they may seem, as much as the terrorists want the media, as it suits the interests of both these parties.         Noel Moitra


The horrific events of 9/11 brought terrorism centre stage. Terrorism had existed well before that date, but remained largely underplayed, till Uncle Sam got bearded in his own den. Without attempting to add to the plethora of definitions of terrorism, let me just say that there is a fundamental difference in the way it is seen, related purely to perspective. The victim and the perpetrator portray an incident affecting them quite differently.

             For example, US media might say, “Terrorists detonated a bomb near the camp of the U.S. peacekeeping forces, causing numerous U.S. military casualties.” Arab media would report it as: “Freedom fighters detonated a bomb near the base of the crusaders. The tremendous blast killed and severely injured many infidels.”(n.p.)

             A free press is a mandate in a democracy. If the content available was not salutary, the media would still report it. Terrorism uses this mandate to further its own aim by spreading fear. A terrorist organization actually needs the media to spread information about localized attacks as widely as possible. In the cause of reporting, or at times, hogging the limelight, the media does exactly what the terrorist wants. Paradoxically, terrorism has become a boon for the media, because such attacks make television ratings surge. “Terrorist acts are well calculated, always played to an audience and specific tactics employed to maximize impact” (Bozarth, 2005).

              There are people who feel that the media brings the world up to date and educates people about the ills of terrorism and how it is crucial to lend a hand against this ugly monster. I do not agree and believe that the media is only interested in its ratings, ‘damn the consequences’ (n.p.).  I will use three examples to support my argument.

             Since 1960, advancement in technology had affected the media greatly, giving it a face and voice, not just events reported on black and white paper. The nature of terrorism reporting had also evolved simultaneously. While aimed to promote terror in a larger target audience, terrorism often aims to recruit more supporters. The media is the conduit to both these aims. Terrorism ‘relies almost exclusively on psychological “warfare” for its intended impact. Victims of an attack are the signal that is amplified and broadcast, terrorizing the target audience into capitulating to the terrorists demands’ (Bozarth, 2005). “Terrorists are not interested in three, or thirty – or even three thousand - deaths. They allow the imagination of the target population to do their work for them. In fact, the desired panic could be produced by the continuous broadcast of threats and declarations – by radio and TV interviews, videos and all the familiar methods of psychological warfare” (Ganor 2002).

             Terrorists have “four media-dependent objectives when they strike or threaten to commit violence. The first is: Gain attention, intimidate, create fear. The second is: Recognition of the organization’s motives. Why they are carrying out attacks? The third is: Gain the respect and sympathy of those in whose name they claim to attack. The last is: Gain a quasi-legitimate status and media treatment at par with legitimate political actors” (Nacos 2007, 20). Many cases confirm that ‘getting attention through the media is important terrorist strategy. The 7 July 2005 London bombings on the transit system in London is one example, with the G-8 summit on in Scotland. The terrorists pushed the G-8 leaders off the front pages’ (Ibid, 20-21).

             The Palestinian terrorist organisation Black September attack on Israeli athletes in the Munich Olympic Games 1972, when people around the world were watching the Games and large numbers of newspaper and broadcast journalists had gathered, is another example. A  hostage situation and a rescue attempt ensued, closely covered by all media, and watched by approximately 800 million people throughout the world. The terrorists “monopolized the attention of a global television audience. (Ibid, 179). “Black September undoubtedly chose Munich at the time of the Olympics because the technology, equipment, and personnel were in place to guarantee a television drama that had never before been witnessed in the global arena.” (Nacos 2002, 177).

             The images of attacks like 9/11, can inspire awe. For instance, “after 9/11, Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden became most popular in the Muslim community” (Gunaratna, 2006). “Simply by showing that he and his kind could land a devastating blow against the US on home ground, bin Laden conditioned a large number of young Muslim men – mainly in the Muslim diaspora in western Europe – for recruitment into his cause without ever meeting them.” (Nacos 2007, 22).

             The Internet can be and has been used terrorists for cyber-terrorism, coordination of plans, communication with cells, or propaganda and information. That they can now manage their own media is not the only advantage they have in using the Internet. “There are other advantages in using the Net. The audience is enormous; it is easy to access and stay anonymous, it is incredibly fast and inexpensive, and it offers a multimedia environment, which means that text, graphics, video, songs, books, and presentations can all be combined. In addition, regular media now often report on or even copy Internet content, which means that both old and new media can be influenced by using the Internet alone” (Weimann 2004, 3). 


Modern terrorism is media terrorism. The media are attracted by extreme terrorist acts not only because it is their duty to report on any major event but also because, at the same time, the dramaturgy of terrorism attracts large scale attention. Today’s terrorists have picked up this dynamic and take action not only to make their victims suffer but also to create maximum attention around the world. Terrorists have become “media competent” by knowing and applying the principles of attracting media attention in most of their activities. Not only do they now own the necessary technical equipment such as video cameras and Internet facilities, they also usually know how to time and create those images which can guarantee a maximum impact through the media. This dynamic could lead to the conclusion that a major option for the prevention of terrorism would be not to allow journalists and the media to report on terrorist activities or events or at least to inhibit coverage as much as possible. Several countries indeed have chosen this option and it is difficult in those countries to have access to information or events that are related to terrorist activities.

Modern democracy is however characterised to a high extent by its freedom of expression and the possibility to access relevant political or societal information. As soon as information related to terrorism is blocked by governments or other political or societal institutions, terrorists may have gained one of their goals, namely to compromise the values of modern democracy. Thus, political institutions, as well as the media, are faced with the basic dilemma that on the one hand media coverage may be instrumentalised by terrorists in order to get maximum attention while, on the other hand, if such information is inhibited, the basic principle and value of freedom of expression and information is under threat.

There is a general consensus among European parliamentarians, politicians, journalists and experts that the European political system is strong enough to tolerate the distribution of information related to terrorism. In fact, a major conclusion is that it would mean a real victory for the terrorists if political institutions were to compromise the European values of freedom, including the freedom of expression and information, in order to prevent any terrorist activity.

Although this major principle may be generally accepted, many details need to be considered when addressing media and terrorism. One of the major questions when dealing with terrorism is its definition. Two “schools” compete here. One defines terrorism in terms of the actors of terrorist attacks; the other defines terrorism in terms of the actual attacks themselves. Over the years this question has always been central to the analysis and treatment of terrorism. For the media the labelling and determination of precise motives is important even if this is not the same as a criminal justice procedure. It may therefore be more suitable to deal primarily with individual events and if necessary describe the actors involved as criminals. Not everyone who may be sympathetic with terrorist activities, but has not been involved himself or herself, is a terrorist per definition. The terrorist attacks themselves may easily be described by comparison. They usually involve extreme violence against individuals or larger groups where mostly innocent people are hurt or killed. Any situation outside a “normal” war which includes extreme violence and may be motivated by whatever simple or sophisticated or ideological political goals may be called terrorism, especially across Europe in countries with an emerging or already established democracy. All in all, for Europe, the notion, which has been used in some debates, that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” probably does not apply. Yet it is also a fact that in a few cases terrorist activities may have increased the success of non-violent but same-goal oriented groups such as IRA and SIN-FEIN. There is indeed a preference among journalists and European politicians to limit the word “terrorism” to events and not to apply it to a whole, e. g. ethnic, group or even to a major part of a certain group which has not directly been involved in violent attacks against society and its citizens.

Concentrating on the terrorist events themselves and not on the motives when reporting on terrorism may of course limit the number of people who may be called terrorists. Journalists can cover any aspect of political violence including supporters and groups which may be sympathetic with terrorist goals. But it can be dangerous to “over-generalise” the label “terrorist” to include a larger number of people and who may be drawn deeper into terrorist tendencies exactly because they are already labelled as such. In fact, political integration into the democratic system with convincing means of trust and education may be a more efficient way of preventing a terrorist “periphery” from growing into violence than creation, at an early stage, of a whole out-group of “enemies” by classifying every member of a certain grouping as terrorists without distinguishing between actual attackers and others only loosely linked with these attackers.

One should also consider that terrorism may also actually be supported by the fact that “normal” criminal activities when labelled “”terrorism” receive a certain, if negative glorification and attraction for those who appreciate being (anti-) heroes. Many so-called terrorist activities are more based on normal criminal behaviour than on political motives. That does not make them better or worse for the victims or the political system but it may create a different context or connotation for them in the media and limit the probability that their actions are perceived as being rewarding for a higher, ideological goal. Many, if not most attacks in the context of “terrorism” serve goals other than to reach or realise political objectives. They are about money, attention, status, other advantages, or just about keeping a group alive and intact. An early-1980s study on German terrorism demonstrated that most terrorist events occurred when the group cohesion and group structure of the violent gangs was threatened to collapse and disintegrate. Planning and realizing an assault strengthened the group and put it back into a stable, if clandestine structure.

The Role Of Journalists

The first section briefly describes the necessity to differentiate when dealing with the label and the phenomenon of terrorism in both politics and the media. A cautious use of the term “terrorism” may not exclude the necessity to report about any major violent attack in society, but it contributes to a distinction between politically motivated tendencies and extreme criminal behaviour. Again, terrorism is a method, not an a priori characteristic of a whole group.

Terrorist activities of course do not only involve the media as instruments of distribution; frequently, journalists themselves are directly affected by those activities. They become victims as hostages, are killed, are used for negotiations, or, beyond purely reporting the facts, they interpret and comment on the attacks. Thus journalists are, in a variety of roles, an active part of the violent events. Recently, the threat of harm to reporters has been of increasing concern for politics and society across Europe. As representatives of the free flow of information and therefore as a very important group for the realisation of democracy, journalists deserve the special appreciation and protection of the whole of society and its political and other institutions. Any violent attack against them is an attack against the whole system and its values.

Without compromising their independence, there should be cooperation between public and political institutions on the one hand, and the media on the other regarding protection of journalists against of harmful attacks. They not only deserve the normal support of the political system as any citizen in danger, but as a special risk group they should profit from specific measures such as scenarios where media and public institutions simulate all possible acts of violence and how they can and should collectively react in order to protect that group without compromising their own sovereignty and freedom. Being prepared together does not mean that the freedom of expression is at stake or vice versa that the political and executive powers would be limited in their legal right to protect the democratic system. Rather than regarding themselves as conflict partners as a whole, the two groups share at least the one common interest that their own lives and that of any citizen are the most valuable goods in society and the basis for any democratic development.

However, even if the common interests of public institutions and professional journalists may be acknowledged, recent years have seen additional developments outside the traditional landscape of media and journalism. In Europe market pressure has also increasingly become a major factor in the success of television, radio and the press. Whereas in former times a certain ethical code would prevent the coverage of an event in a sensational way and therefore would, because of professional self-responsibility, avoid showing the most extreme scenes, this latent consensus is nowadays often challenged. If one channel does not show the most violent activities the next one will do it and so obtain a greater share of the market. Thus, with increased competition between media players or individual journalists the likelihood has been increasing that the common code of ethics is no longer automatically valid. On top of that, particularly terrorist activities are often followed by “lay-journalism”. That means that non-professional observers of terrorist acts record the events with cheap digital cameras or web-cams and are also able to distribute the images via informal channels, for example the Internet. In fact, people involved in terrorist activities have themselves started applying media dramaturgy and using the necessary technical means such as video cameras, digital equipment, or the Internet. Hardly any kidnapping takes place where there is no video message distributed globally addressing directly the public as well as the political institutions. It is no more the professional journalist who controls, filters and interprets the events and the images. The images have started to lead their own lives and reach the audience frequently outside traditional media institutions. In turn, professional journalists have to consider this development and so pick up those images which they have not themselves produced or personally obtained.

This has two consequences: Firstly, there is more access to a global audience than ever before including the possibility for criminals to reach any specific group. Secondly, with this situation it has become more difficult to establish professional and ethical codes to be applied along all communication channels. This also means that new positions have to be defined on the continuum between potentially “harmful” and “pro-social” reporting. While normal journalism needs to describe any event, including violent attacks, in as neutral a way as possible, the production of images by the terrorists themselves are of course directly aimed at public relations and public terror to serve their own goals. Several journalists on the other hand, among them Malbrunot, who had been kidnapped suggested that sometimes the amateur videos recorded by the terrorists were a positive instrument for the negotiations with governments to get them free. Again, journalism may hardly stay completely neutral even if that is the necessary intention of media reporting. Both aspects, the negative and the positive, apply if increasingly more images and information are available outside traditional journalism: The more that images about terrorist events are distributed around the world, the more any audience gets the impression that terrorism is indeed a defining factor of modern life. In this way, terrorism would have reached its goal to irritate and threaten the majority of citizens. At the same time, any video recorded by violent actors may also be a means for negotiation. If the receivers of this information are willing and able to read the message and signals, they may as a result obtain a strategic or tactical advantage. Several kidnapped journalists reported that in the end reaction to the videos received saved their lives. Government representatives took the messages seriously and found ways to offer the kidnappers possibilities in exchange for the hostages’ lives. This of course remains tricky in the long run, even if in the actual situation the production and distribution of videos may have supported the negotiations and their outcome. At the same time, it means that the kidnappers were rewarded and without such possibilities the kidnappings might never have taken place. The example shows that it is the balance which counts. The part played by images and the media has to be taken into account, they cannot be ignored even if that might well be the political preference. Thus, one has to live with the technical possibilities and try to take advantage of their existence and not vice versa.

The European debate among parliamentarians and experts demonstrates at the same time the continuing “cultural” differences in dealing with the media when it comes to terrorism. Most European countries prefer a liberal approach to the freedom of expression and information and regard the freedom of journalists higher than the potential risk that media reporting might cause to individual citizens. They acknowledge that by limiting freedom of expression, terrorists would have indirectly realised a major aim, namely to change the political system and make it more oppressive. Some countries however still subscribe to a more restrictive policy. They want to avoid any risk of promotion of terrorist activities through media reporting by blocking journalists’ access to sites where a violent attack takes place. The examples, however, have demonstrated that it is by now nearly impossible to interfere completely with media reporting in the context of political or other violence. Nearly all images find their way anyway to the public through all kinds of channels. It therefore seems better to reach a consensus between the media and the political institutions based on a minimum acceptance of neutrality that if in doubt information should be distributed. An accepted criterion of course is that if live reporting would immediately include the risk to lose lives through informing e. g. kidnappers of the activities outside a hostage location, then this of course would have to be avoided by means of self-limitations. Even if one needs to accept these cultural differences in dealing with terrorism and the media, efficiency is probably the most valid factor in protection of freedom of expression and information. Limiting freedom of expression hardly prevents terrorists from attacking. On the contrary, if certain events are not reported which can be positioned on a lower or medium attention-grabbing level, the terrorist dynamics demand them to create such a big and spectacular event that automatically reporting cannot be avoided anyway. Thus, trying to block and inhibit free reporting is either technically not possible anyway or may at worse lead to even more extreme violence would need to be covered anyway.

When dealing with media coverage of terrorism it is also important to consider the different effects which that coverage has. It has already been mentioned that the terrorists themselves aim at maximum attention for their own sake. But it is also true of course that politics and potential supporters are affected by the violent events. Terrorist attacks can be regarded as following the principles of symbolic negotiation and even games. Politicians in public need to react in public, otherwise they are perceived as being too weak and not able to cope with the violence. Therefore it is part of the terrorists’ strategy and the strategy of political institutions vice versa to force the respective conflict partner to express weakness publicly. It needs to be clear in media reporting and communication that the events and the reactions from those events follow a dramaturgy of potentially increasing escalation. Politicians and negotiators are under public observation and cannot necessarily chose for the best strategy for example to free hostages. They need rather to demonstrate strength and power. Therefore it would also be up to the media not only to reward and pay attention to those who are applying the most extreme measures of fighting terrorism but to feature also those which are the most clever even if they do not necessarily appear to be the most radical and strong.

It has already been mentioned that many terrorist activities are directed at the empowerment of their own followers and their own group structure. Again, journalists and the media need to be aware of this fact. It is not always the larger audience which is addressed but their own followers. It was for example relatively risky to broadcast the first Bin-Laden videos after 9-11 as they may have contained hidden messages for the supporters of Bin Laden. Responsible journalism takes account of this effect and should be very careful in the broadcasting and distribution of material gathered outside the own professional possibilities and means. Again it is very difficult to apply a general standardised approach to these political and professional challenges.

Images And Ethics

The standards and norms of how to deal with terrorism in the media are different within European countries and around the globe and so are the use and interpretation of individual images. They have one thing in common however. Strong, single icons and visual impressions increasingly determine the public debate probably more than detailed analyses and background information. The struggle for power is often a struggle for the most powerful images. And violence creates powerful images and in turn attracts attention much more than peaceful negotiations could usually ever hope to achieve. That makes terrorist attacks a priori more efficient for media coverage than most other means, particularly among small, originally little-powerful groups. Again, violent images and market competition correlate and may, even unintentionally, result in a mutual spiral of interest. Even with, or especially without political control of the media, it is important for journalists to be aware of the fact that they carry a high responsibility for the effects of using and distributing terrorist images. This responsibility needs to focus on avoiding:

     a)   the promotion of terrorist goals through extreme images,

     b)   the separation of an individual attack from the historical and societal as well as criminal context,

     c)   hurting privacy and human dignity particularly of the victims.

There can hardly be a cross-national standard of how to use the images of violence in the media, but journalists need to be aware of the professional, political and ethical implications of their distribution. During the Paris debate one journalist who had himself been hostage in Iraq (Pohanka) put it very clearly: The frequency of violent images of the conflict in this country inhibits the likelihood that images of “normal” life are also widely distributed. Yet one has to show also the brutality of terrorism. Another journalist (Aliev) made it once more clear that the oppression of any violent image would only increase the probability of an attack so extreme that coverage just could not be avoided anymore.

It seems to be crucial that the images are integrated into a context, whether it is an additional piece of background information about the event itself, a description of the groups involved, or a picture of the whole situation and cultural environment which may not be characterised at all by violence or violent intentions. The danger of an isolated use of specific terrorism-images is not only that they help promote violent political goals, but that they also create a wrong image of a whole region or even a whole group and culture, such as of Islam.

Consequences For Politics And Media

Terrorism should not be able to compromise the bases of democracy and freedom. For both politics and media the consideration and realisation of several principles would reduce the likelihood that any violent activity could ever reach this goal. Among the media, whether it is television (see statements by Whittle or Krichen) or the press (see Gor and others) such principles have already been established. Summarising several approaches one can identify ten aspects of reporting which create a working guideline for dealing with terrorism:

    - Inform a broad audience freely.

    - An event must be covered accurately.

    - The coverage has to be impartial.

    - If one opinion or voice is presented, at least one alternative or opposite voice must also be heard.

    - The audience should be informed about the sources of a piece of information.

    - The procedures and channels of gathering information should be transparent.

    - The reporting should be careful in its choice of terminology (“terrorists”, “martyrs”).

     - Basic privacy and human dignity should always be respected.

    - The coverage should empower the audience to get involved in a (national) debate.

    - Once a piece of information turns out to be wrong, that should be made publicly clear.

Apart from guaranteeing press freedom, politicians should find the right balance between a number of challenges which characterise the tensions in the specific context of media and terrorism. These balances, as was agreed among politicians, journalists and experts, cannot be created in a standardised way but need to be approached pragmatically and per terrorist event. However, it is crucial to be aware of the respective challenges, more specifically, to find the right balance for history to reflect it as a piece of neutral coverage.


Just fifty years ago, products were made available for sale by a shopkeeper who had acquired these goods for himself from an intermediary. Tracing a product from origin to point of sale was far from easy, as the route could involve multiple intermediaries. The intermediary between a manufacturer and a consumer- the middleman- was the vital link between the maker and the consumer of any particular good. With progress in technology, it became possible for the shopkeeper to negotiate with the manufacturer and bypass an intermediary or two, allowing the maker to charge less while still maintaining his profit margin. At the point of sale to the customer, the ethical shopkeeper could charge less, while also retaining his profit margin. The role of the intermediary thus started to lose its sheen and today, the middleman is on the verge of extinction. Diehards that they are, the middlemen are fighting back, as, in their case, it is a matter of survival.    
Keywords: product, intermediary, middleman, manufacturer, shopkeeper, profit margin, point of sale, extinction.
First posted 22 Mar 2011

People have long been suspicious of “middlemen,” e.g., traders, lawyers, bankers, salesman (sic), marketers, managers, and politicians. For millennia, most people have suspected such middlemen of being mostly social parasites, and many “Utopian” reforms have planned to eliminate them. Economists have faced an uphill battle arguing that middlemen usually serve important functions.  Among intellectuals, engineers and physical scientists find it especially hard to appreciate several roles other than designing, building, maintaining, fueling, and distributing physical goods.
Robin Hanson, April 4, 2010; (overcomingbias.com)  

         Right up to the 1970s, Marketing was the preserve of the retailer, or shopkeeper. You went up to him and asked for a product. If it was available, fine. If it wasn’t, he just said, “Sorry, try after a few days.” In those days, the recommended maximum retail price (MRP) was not always printed on the package, just a price. It was made mandatory by law thereafter to print the MRP only in 1975 (Businessworld, Issue 8-14 July 2008). The consumer had no idea what the profit margin was. Prices of a product varied from place to place, uptown markets charging more than the local dime store. Even the manufacturer had no clue about final prices.

        Things have changed radically post globalization. The market no longer belongs to the Seller; it is now a Buyer’s market, with a wide array of products and their prices available online. The Internet has changed global rules totally. With fierce competition in a buyer-driven market, the retailer has to keep prices in check. Brand loyalty has been displaced by value for money. The retailer has to pare costs to the bone.

        The slow demise of the middleman started the day an individual could put his items up for sale with pictures thereof, advertise promos for multiple buys, etc. Canny individuals climbed onto the bandwagon while there was adequate space. We know the success stories of Amazon, Ryanair/Spicejet, Expedia and other net-based low-cost high-volume sellers. Mullaney (2004) has listed the three services where middlemen have more or less been eliminated, i.e., books, music, and travel. He predicts that the next six to fall will be jewelry, bill payments, telecom, hotels, real estate, and software. I believe he is being conservative, but then his article was printed six years, more than a full cyber-generation, ago. The all-pervasive Internet will strike down almost all businesses that have middlemen, bar a few whose expert advice and experience cannot be substituted by online forces. The nurse, anesthetist, child minder, jockeys, Montessori teacher, CAD-CAM operators, Test Pilots, mail delivery systems for physical goods like the courier, and many other specialists will remain. For how long? Perhaps only for a couple of generations, who knows?

        An interesting case would be that of a pharmacist/druggist. He stocks medical goods, some of which he cannot sell to a customer unless he sees a legitimate prescription slip. Can he be dispensed with? All that is needed is that the Doctor fill in a customized prescription slip, of which one copy goes online to the patient’s supplier(s) of that drug/those drugs. But how many drugs is a diabetic coronary disease patient with atherosclerosis consuming? Two separate drugs for diabetes, three for coronary disease and two for atherosclerosis. So will the pills come by routine mail or by courier? Given the attendant risk factor, some will come by courier. So the chemist/druggist stays, while becoming much more efficient. He gets an alert over the web when the good old doctor is filling in the prescription of Patient X, Personal Number (PN) ABQCM7850NAM; he checks his stocks and is all set to deliver. PN could be any unique number on the database, for non-financial transactions. Financial transactions would need multiple security, with at least one layer more than is extant. That would imply yet another PN, the Financial PN or FPN. The number of banks the customer could use would be restricted to three, at the outside, which would make the IRS/Income Tax authorities happy.

         What about your grocer and other essential services providers? Somebody has to deliver your foodstuff, your wine and other liquor, household requirements, etc. Is there enough data to substantiate a statement that an errand boy for household goods is necessary? Yes, there is, even if you need to make a trip to the supermarket to select your goods and hand over your shopping cart to an agent who will deliver your stuff at home and collect your payment there. A time will come when even this system will be automated; the supermarket’s wide array of supplies will be made visible online for you to pick and choose. But delivery will still be through a system. The Supermarket and its delivery system cannot be replaced, but only made more efficient and cost-effective.

         The educated middleman like the stock broker and the financial investment consultant is doomed to perdition. The share depository will be subsumed by the company and all transactions will be online and one-on-one. With time, every single interaction involving a middleman will be put through the wringer and an answer found on a case by case basis as to how to get rid of the middleman. Peter Drucker used to point out that the classical professional firm consisted of two partners and a clerk. Today, the partners ARE clerks, doing data entry, numbers crunching, and most other computer related activities (EzineArticles.com). The poor clerk has been hacked. Do we really care about what he will do to survive? No. That’s his problem. And he is not alone, if that is any consolation.

       Shopping will be entirely through the net, even for those who like personal interaction. Each store, as we see it now, a collection of bricks and mortar, will change tack, as all of them will become part virtual stores or storefronts as well. The magic mirror (www.rfidupdate.com), 3-D viewing platforms (www.anark.com) and person-specific customization (atmae.org) will become the norm. Every buyer will be able to select color codes and patterns to suit his/her choice.  Hardware, carpentry and other tools, DIY machinery, etc. will all fall into place.

        When I bought my first Desktop PC in 1996, I had a 2 GB hard disc and the seller told me it would take me a lifetime to load 2GB! Today, net geeks have 360 GB hard disc drives, with a 2 TB attachable hard disc. Servers are talking of 1 Gbps standard transmission speed, but this will also jump like Bubka. Data transfer will shift into the nanosecond regime, perhaps calling for artificial slowing down to digestible levels. When you call a company-through the computer-that company will scan its database to check if you are on record. If yes, it will crosscheck your facial features and voice for identification and proceed. A credit viability check will decide if you can place an order on credit. If not on record, they will treat you deferentially, using the 7Ps of the extended Marketing Mix (marketingteacher.com), Macro-environmental factors with the new-fangled acronym PESTLE (www.renewal.eu.com) and similar stratagems to get you on their rolls as a customer. Data-sharing agreements between branch/affiliate concerns which the customer might have agreed to will be used laterally, to dialogue with you, the prospective customer, offering you value or promotional pricing (marketingteacher.com).

         E-billing and E-payment are basics. Expensive paper checks are passé. Online bill payment has shed its mystical aura and is exploding: Gartner Inc. estimates that 65 million people paid at least one bill online last year, up 97% from the year before. "The Internet economy is in full swing again," says Mark M. Zandi, chief economist at Economy.com Inc. (Mullaney, 2004).

         The Computer World will soon see a battle of prices. Over the past lustrum, Linux had steadily but surely eaten into Microsoft’s OS pie and was considered a better system than Windows for servers. Today, this open source system is considered superior to the confusingly complex Windows 7. According to Computer guru Michael Horowitz, who runs a full website dedicated to Linux vs Windows, most of the software preloaded on top-end Sony VAIOs is junk and should be removed. He says (online: 2008), “A new computer with Windows pre-installed normally comes with additional application software; exactly what to include is up to the PC vendor. Sony VAIOs come with a lot of software. However, there are problems with the pre-installed application software on Windows computers.

    1.       First, much of it is junk. So much, that a new term ‘crapware’ is being used to describe it. The PC vendors make money by installing this software that many people consider worse than useless. In fact, the first thing many techies do is un-install this software. I have never heard of anyone complaining about the software that comes pre-installed in the normal, popular versions of Linux.

     2.       Second, important software is often missing or old. For example, the Adobe Acrobat reader, may not be pre-installed by the PC vendor.

     3.       Next, Windows is open to attack by viruses. Linux is not!
To be fair, the installation of applications under Windows, while not standardized, is generally consistent and pretty easy. Installing software under Linux varies with each distribution and has not been nearly as simple, easy or obvious as Windows. But the fact remains that Linux costs less than half of what MS charges for Windows. But the computer world has gone beyond Linux (Hamm 2004).

               The open-source crowd, led by MySQL AB and JBoss Inc. are coming out with second generation open-source software: everything from databases and search engines to programming tools and desktop PC software. If this stuff follows the trajectory of Linux, it could cut into the sales and profits of incumbents, altering the financial landscape of the $200 billion business. None of this would be possible without the Web. The Net lets thousands of people worldwide contribute code, fixes, and ideas to the small tribes that put open-source programs together (ibid).

             ‘The Consumer is King’ is today’s tagline. And the market will do its utmost to hard or soft sell their products to more and more customers. The customer never had it easier. Imagine a marketing manager from Toyota calling from his factory and offering you a simulated test drive in their latest model on your 3-D monitor/TV. And comparing it with other cars in the market! You could test drive a competitor’s car and push hard for bargain prices. Everything must be on tap for the customer. The moment you enter an option into your PC, all relevant data must be made available to you on demand. All presentations must be audio-visual, with no time wasted on buffering. You could split your 100 cm screen into four, and shut down the audio as you compare the physical goods, whatever they are. You read whatever you want on your Kindle/I-pad/ I-phone/Treo-phone or whichever is most convenient to you.

               Still, some diehards like Hotel chains are bent on fighting the digital evolution (Mullaney, 2004). InterContinental Hotels Group is slapping hotel owners with fines and threatening to pull their franchise licenses if they offer special discounts through Net partners. Real estate giant Cendant Corp. is pressing the National Association of Realtors to make it harder for Net upstarts to get home-sale listings. These tactics can, at best, work for a limited period. Hotel owners barred from giving online discounts may see travelers book rooms across the street at a rival hotel. Cendant's parry in real estate is on hold while the Justice Dept. conducts an antitrust probe (ibid). The end result is inevitable. Change is just round the corner.

         Cross channel solutions provider ATG noted a rise of 50-100% in traffic for its e-tailer clients (www.retailtouchpoints.com.) Several mid-sized retail companies reported year-over-year e-commerce sales growth of more than 200%. ATG noted the impact of Cyber Monday alone, when the sales conversion rates for consumers who were presented with personalized recommendations were triple the rate for customers who did not interact with them, as they say. Nina McIntyre, SVP & CMO, ATG, summarizes (online: www.retailtouchpoints.com), “It’s clear retailers are seeing success this year by combining attractive, aggressive sales promotions with personalization techniques that enable them to target different segments of shoppers with offers they’re likely to be interested in.”

          Convenience goods/services: Goods which are easily available to the consumer, without any extra effort are convenience goods (www.altiusdirectory.com.) Further, convenience goods can be sub-categorized into:
         Staple Convenience Consumer Goods: Goods which come under the basic demands of human beings are called staple convenience goods, e.g. milk, bread, sugar, etc.
         Impulse Convenience Consumer Goods: Goods without any prior planning or which are brought impulsively are called impulse convenience goods. e.g. potato wafers, candies, ice creams, cold drinks, etc.

          Shopping Consumer Goods: In shopping consumer goods, consumers do a lot of selection and comparison based on various parameters such as cost, brand, style, comfort etc, before buying an item. They are costlier than convenience goods and are durable in nature. Consumer goods companies usually try to set up their shops and show rooms in active shopping areas to attract customer attention and their main focus is to do lots of advertising and marketing to become popular. Goods like clothing items, televisions, radio, foot wear, home furnishing, jewelry, etc. come under the category of shopping goods (ibid).

        Specialty Consumer Goods:Goods which are very unique, unusual, and luxurious in nature are called specialty goods. Specialty goods are mostly bought by the upper-class of society as they are expensive in nature. The goods don't come under the category of necessity; they are purchased on the basis of personal preference or desire. Brand name and unique and special features of an item are major attributes which attract customer attraction in buying them. Examples of specialty products are: antiques, jewelry, wedding dresses, cars etc.

        Sought Consumer Goods: Goods or Services like insurance which are available in the market and the customer is interested in buying them with an ulterior motive are called sought goods (ibid.)

        The removal of middlemen will make no difference in Convenience goods/services. But they will no longer be present in the Shopping Consumer Goods category. Expensive items of clothing and jewelry will be the first to be affected. Stores will have to conform to a new global prototype that will emerge of itself. Sought Consumer Goods will see status quo.

        Amanda Ferrante writes (online: retailtouchpoints.com) “Black Friday showed that sales and traffic were on par with last year. However, the wake-up call for retailers this year was the continued shift in preference toward e-commerce channels. The biggest traffic jams were occurring online. ComScore Inc. an Internet audience measurement and consulting service, reported that online shoppers rang up $595 million in sales on Black Friday, up 11% from last year. Web shopping also rose 10% on Thanksgiving day to $318 million. Web analytics firm Coremetrics reported that as of 1:00 p.m. Cyber Monday, Nov. 30, online sales for the day were up 19.6% over a year ago.”

         What is of great interest and probably a harbinger of future strategy of brick and mortar stores is the finding reported by Experian Hitwise, a leading Custom Data and Analytics concern (ibid).  According to them, “One traditional brick and mortar retailer that has clearly embraced  the shifting channel preferences into its sales strategy is Sears Holdings.The retailer was ranked third in overall Web traffic for a multichannel store retailer for the week ending Nov. 28, which included Black Friday. Imran Jooma, SVP at Sears Holdings corroborated that finding (ibid), “We’ve experienced a record number of people engaged with the Sears ShopYourWay multichannel platform this Black Friday and on Cyber Monday, which proves we provide customers with the tools needed to easily find whatever they need when they need it.”

          Jooma added, “Use of mobile phone orders were also on the rise and further evidence that we’re offering an exceptional online experience that is clearly transforming the way our customers shop.”

         Driving Cross Channel Traffic : In order to drive traffic to both their physical stores and Web site, retailers continued to ramp up their e-marketing efforts this season. Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday hit all-time highs in terms of email volume (www.retailtouchpoints.com). Cyber Sunday, the day before Cyber Monday, also saw record email volume (online: Smith-Harmon’s Retail Email Blog). This is in keeping with Cross channel solutions provider ATG’s findings and subsequent strategy.

          On Black Friday, 69% of major online retailers sent at least one promotional email, up from 59% in 2008, as tracked by the Retail Email Blog. On Cyber Monday, 71% sent at least one promotional email, making it both the most popular retail email day of this year and also the most popular of all-time. Last year, 70% of retailers sent email on Cyber Monday. And on Cyber Sunday, 45% of retailers sent at least one promotional email, up from 36% last year. That made Nov. 29 the biggest Sunday ever for retail email marketing (retailtouchpoints.com.)

         While Black Friday is traditionally known for in-store sales, the Smith-Harmon report noted that more online sales were promoted in this year’s Black Friday email campaigns. At the same time, retailers used their email campaigns to actively promote their in-store sales. According to the report, plenty of retailers promoted their Friday store hours in their emails and Kohl’s, Office Depot, Sears and Toys “R” Us even promoted theirs in their subject lines (ibid). End-to-end e-commerce provider iCongo Inc., revealed that its retail clients indicated average gains on sales this year versus the same period in 2008 for Black Friday and Cyber Monday to be 83% and 74% respectively. The average sales increase, year to year, for the Saturday and Sunday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday was 47% (ibid).

        Trends in E-Commerce: Site search vendor SLI Systems found that most e-tailers were using multiple technology applications and approaches, though 75% were uncertain if they are utilizing all the data gleaned through these applications to successfully recruit customers. The top technologies being used are Search (88%); Web analytics (87%) and Email marketing (81%) (www.retailtouchpoints.com)

        Geoff Brash, VP Marketing, SLI Systems believes, “During 2010 we expect to see integration of various on-site technologies provide a major impact to retailers — whether it’s the integration of applications like video, site search, customer ratings and reviews or improved integration between analytics and other on-site components. Retailers have been investing heavily in technologies over the past few years and they now need to integrate these technologies to see the full ROI” (online: www.retailtouchpoints.com). He adds that niche players are strengthening online, because typically shoppers have to travel to get to a specific type of store they’re after, but online always comes to you. He also notes that SLI’s retail clients have been exploring new ways to optimize the visual appeal of E-commerce sites, like adding more imagery and color to grab shoppers’ attention, in addition to improved site search and navigation tools (www.retailtouchpoints.com)

        Conclusion: The traditional marketing system involving the manufacturer, the sales agency and the customer is undergoing a sea change with the middleman being excluded from the deal. There is no place for him in most businesses and his future appears bleak. Middlemen in certain businesses will remain, though their longevity cannot be forecast. Moreover, the balance of power has changed irrevocably, with the customer becoming king. The market has become ethereal in the sense that the customer is now invited to purchase any item he fancies of the lot being displayed to him, as he lounges on his sofa and observes the audio-visual hard sell in progress. He no longer has to visit a bricks and mortar store; the store is brought to him. E-commerce practitioners are besieging him with package deals and he has hundreds of options to choose from. Research has shown that old habits die hard, and those who pander to him, interact with him and keep him happy are most likely to get his patronage.