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 FT.com.

"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.

30 comments:

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  2. Rupert is an idiot.

    All he has to do is change the robots.txt file on his websites and Google will not index the sites at all.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A key question may well be how much -- or if -- Bing or Ask are willing to pony up for an "exclusive" right to index Murdhoch's empire (or most of it); whether Google would want to trump such a deal; and whether, as others have suggested, Rupert's current round of blathering is really meant in no small part to shake down Google re: his soon-to-expire MySpace deal (that isn't delivering to Google the traffic it promised, apparently).

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree that newspapers have every right to target their content for indexing and distribution to either specific search providers or no providers.

    However, no news organization has solved the issue of erecting a premium content paywall and providing all the content that's fit to read for paying customers within the paywall. It is almost impossible for these papers not to include external links to related articles for some of their content - local and especially national/international. So when this happens, how does the subscriber get back within the pay wall and experience real value? That is my main question with the paywall approach.

    I understand Murdoch's decision, or more appropriately, reaction to make his paywall "higher" by limiting Google's access to News Corp content. However, Murdoch does not address the real challenge which is to create newspaper web content that is at a level of value that does not drive away ninety percent of their web traffic upon initiating the paywall. Does he need another McKinsey report to tell him that?

    Frankly, limiting access to Google, et. al is counter-productive and is a non-starter given the lack of premium content value to date.

    The media industry leaders not surprisingly assume the content value is currently good enough to be premium content worthy of extra fees. There seems to be a disconnect between the new organization's coverage requirements and scope to create public and expecially premium content and the end product today that is available at newspaper web sites.

    So Mr. Murdoch may believe that his content is golden and start a (very) short-term trend among news organizations. But the main problem of content value still exists -- Google or no Google.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Apparently, Rupert hasn't read Section 117 of the Copyright Code very closely. I agree with Dave Barnes.

    ReplyDelete
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    Google would want to trump such a deal; and whether, as others have suggested, Rupert's current round of blathering is really meant in no small part to shake down Google re: his soon-to-expire My Space.

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  7. There seems to be a disconnect between the new organization's coverage requirements and scope to create public and expecially premium content and the end product today that is available at newspaper web sites.
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  8. All changes are the robots.txt file on his websites and Google will not index the sites at all, that it is.
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