Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Google exec: Company doesn't need news to make money

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase

The newspaper industry's claims that Google is taking its money have always made me wonder how much of the company's revenue actually comes from ads related to news stories or searches. My gut has been not much.

I don't know the answer. But these comments in England by the country's top Google exec reinforce my view. If he's right, what does it mean for the newspaper industry? Do you believe him?

Here's what Matt Brittin is quoted as saying: "Does Google need news content to survive? No. If you look at the amount of advertising we serve around news content in Google News it’s zero."

I do believe him. Just think about how you use search. Of course people use it to find out more about news topics they're interested in. But...I believe they use Google and other search engines far more often for non-news topics.
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Monday, November 16, 2009

ME Sprengelmeyer has something to say about the future of metro newspapers

ME Sprengelmeyer went from being the Washington correspondent for the Rocky Mountain News to being the owner and editor of a weekly newspaper in New Mexico, the Guadalupe County Communicator.

His experience has given him perspective worth considering.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Watching media moguls like Rupert Murdoch flail against search engines has become painful

I wish it wasn't this ugly. I wish it didn't have to be this way.

But it is. And last week we saw how bad things have gotten when Rupert Murdoch let loose one more time.

Here's what he said, based on an article from

"Mr Murdoch also indicated that he would use legal methods to prevent Google and other search engine “news aggregators” from taking his newspapers’ material.

"Asked how he reacted to the challenge of Google and others for newspapers such as his to remove their newspapers from search results, Mr Murdoch said that once they had in place the means to charge for news, 'I think we will'.

"He also challenged the idea that Google and others could take just the headlines and opening lines from his papers’ stories, indicating that he would not tolerate even that.

"'[They use] a doctrine called fair use, which we believe can be challenged in the courts and will bar it altogether,' he said.

"But he added that News Corp papers currently benefited to some extent from the advertising around its freely available internet content so 'we will take that slowly.'"

What's painful about this is that yet again it's all about playing defense, attacking those he thinks are stealing his business.

My view is that he should go ahead and cut off Google if he wants. At a minimum, it'll be amusing to watch. But I doubt his content will be missed - unless he can create greater value and benefit for the user than he has today. The way to do that is to give people relevant content - information and advertising - that has real value. No easy task. I'm trying to wrestle with these issues - how to monetize content. And I know it's not easy. But I can't believe traditional news organizations will find success just by bashing Google and other search engines.

Those looking for future models to support journalism will not find them in the ugly writhing of Murdoch. Much better to look to what people like Steve Jobs has done with Apple and ask whether similar creativity couldn't be found by those interested in news, information, connection and community.

I've been away

I haven't been posting for a few weeks because I've been very busy working with the Greenspun Media Group in Las Vegas and trying to start a new business with a software engineer colleague. I'm not going to write about consulting work for a private firm and I'm not prepared to write about our initiative. But I will try to weigh in more often on journalism issues in coming weeks.