Overpricing on the net - count me in. I know a tank for sale

Clearly the way forward for all us journalists who thought we were part of a dying breed, and that newsprint is dead, is that we can make money from flogging shoes.

Powered by automated translation

It is amazing what one can get up to in the office. While my colleagues yesterday were trying to make a headline fit and berating a reporter for his sloppy use of the gerund, I picked up a Charvet shirt, a brace of Maison Martin Margiela polo shirts, some Orlebar Brown swimming trunks, and a pair of yellow canvas espadrilles made by Castaner.

Actually that's not quite true. I was about to buy the espadrilles when I saw the price and thought twice: 74 quid (Dh438) for a pair of canvas shoes? Surely you've got to be kidding.

I looked again. This is what the mrporter website's editor has to say about them: "Mustard yellow canvas Castaner espadrilles with a contrasting jute-rope sole, rubber base and pull-on tab at the back. An easy slip-on shoe for a breezy look in the city or on holiday, the airy fabric and light construction make these a perfect warm-weather option."

Breezy or not, I reckon it would be cheaper to drive to Spain than buy these loafers. And anyway, what's a website doing with an editor? For all the people who have been busy writing off the future of journalism, it seems there is hope after all.

To paraphrase Napoleon, the internet is turning hacks into shopkeepers. Mr Porter, or should it be mrporter.com, is a slick site, brother to Net-a-Porter - one of the most successful of the new dotcoms, where shoppers can browse online and buy pretty frocks.

But there isn't just a commercial aspect to Mr Porter. Along with all the shirts and shoes and suits, there is a certain amount of editorial copy. The former editor of Wallpaper magazine, one Jeremy Langmead, is busy dispensing advice on crucial matters such as how to tie a bow tie, dress like Mick Jagger, or wear a cardigan. It is rather predictable stuff - Steve McQueen is an icon of cool, and doubtless Audrey Hepburn would be too if she were a bloke.

Over at Howtospendit.com, the internet site of the Financial Times glossy magazine dedicated to all things overpriced, you can buy a pair of Tiffany & Co diamond earrings for £25,800. So who says the internet is free?

This is clearly the way forward for all us journalists who thought we were part of a dying breed. Newsprint is dead, but now we can make money from flogging shoes.

I was on a trip in Oman this week when it came to me like an epiphany how strange it is that newspapers still exist. First, I had to drive to Muscat and interview people - I suppose I could have flown, but the idea of a road trip seemed rather appealing. Then I wrote an article on my laptop, e-mailed it to the office, where a team of highly trained editors corrected my deliberate mistakes and inserted their own.

Then the electronic file was sent to the printers, turned into newsprint and in the morning a little man on a motorbike zipped around the countryside, delivering the paper to people eating their breakfast so they could see what I had been doing the day before.

It would all have been much simpler if I had just loaded my original copy to the internet, and the readers could have read it over dinner the night before and bought some of my suggestions.

But what to sell? There were a number of good things on the trip: the price of fuel in Oman for one. It is hard to imagine, but if you lived near the Omani border, it would actually be worth crossing over to top up. I paid 6 Omani rials, which is US$15 or Dh55, to fill up the Mustang. In Abu Dhabi, it is more than Dh100.

Hardly surprising that the UAE and the rest of the GCC can afford to give Oman $1 billion a year over the next 10 years; they are making all that money out of my petrol bills.

There was also the Shangri-La Hotel in Muscat. It is like a village and sits in a cove surrounded by sandstone mountains that fall into the sea. It reminds me of the Costa Brava. Not quite sure how to sell things, but maybe everybody who clicks through from my website to book a room could give me a few dollars.

Then, as we came through the roundabouts at Sohar, it came to me. The protesters have now been cleared away and in their place are tanks with soldiers on them.

Everybody knows arms dealers are absurdly rich. I am not sure what kind of tanks those were - they were green, somewhat camouflaged, with tracks and a large gun - if that helps. But if I had thought to take a picture and put it on a website, I could have linked to the site and anyone interested could have bought a cool tank and my commission would be colossal.

There were also a group of fit looking men in black clothes around the middle of the roundabout. As even Jeremy Langmead knows, black is always in fashion.