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Google CEO Warns Newspapers Not To Anger Readers 328

Posted by Soulskill
from the hand-that-feeds dept.
Barence writes "Google CEO Eric Schmidt has hit back at newspaper bosses, warning them that they risk alienating readers in their war against news aggregators such as Google News. 'I would encourage everybody to think in terms of what your reader wants,' Schmidt said at a conference for the Newspaper Association of America. 'These are ultimately consumer businesses and if you piss off enough of them, you will not have any more.' Schmidt's rebuke follows a sustained attack on Google by newspaper bosses such as Rupert Murdoch, who have accused the search giant of 'stealing' their content without payment." Schmidt also suggested that newspapers need to expand their distribution methods to make better use of mobile technology, and a NY Times piece argues that the Associated Press' struggle against aggregators is futile since they're largely trying to give news stories to consumers for free anyway.
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Google CEO Warns Newspapers Not To Anger Readers

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @07:57AM (#27501943) Journal
    On his blog, entitled "Google Public Policy", Alexander Macgillivray weighed in as well [blogspot.com] (and since he's Associate General Counsel for Products and Intellectual Property for Google this may have more weight than the CEO).

    He makes a pretty common argument that Google News actually helps every news service as opposed to the AP's claims of hurting them (maybe even stealing from them).

    And then he defaults to fair use:

    In the U.S., the doctrine of fair use enshrined in the US Copyright Act allows us to show snippets and links. The fair use doctrine protects transformative uses of content, such as indexing to make it easier to find. Even though the Copyright Act does not grant a copyright owner a veto over such uses, it is our policy to allow any rightsholder, in this case newspaper or wire service, to remove their content from our index -- all they have to do is ask us or implement simple technical standards such as robots.txt or metatags.

    And remember folks, he is a lawyer (although I am not).

    • by itlurksbeneath (952654) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:10AM (#27502097) Journal

      Ah, the state of corporate America these days. When the options boil down to - spending 20 minutes of a computer analysts time to put a proper robots.txt file up or spend tens of thousands of dollars to drag another company into court - and you pick the latter option?

      What's the real motive here?

      • To make the lawyers rich
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by RobotRunAmok (595286)

        spending 20 minutes of a computer analysts time to put a proper robots.txt file up

        HTML jockeys are calling themselves "computer analysts" now? Christ!

        Next thing I know, people are going to start referring to Cascading Style Sheets as "code."

        • They've been calling HTML "programming" for 10 years. *sigh*

        • Hey, Analyst looks a lot better on the resume than codemonkey. Remember, we write the things to pass the HR filters.

        • Next thing I know, people are going to start referring to Cascading Style Sheets as "code."

          So you have a prejudice against declarative programming languages?

      • by ArcherB (796902) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:38AM (#27502419) Journal

        Ah, the state of corporate America these days. When the options boil down to - spending 20 minutes of a computer analysts time to put a proper robots.txt file up or spend tens of thousands of dollars to drag another company into court - and you pick the latter option?

        What's the real motive here?

        What you have here is a buggy whip maker suing the automotive industry in an attempt to save his job (or at least delay the inevitable).

      • by russotto (537200) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:42AM (#27502481) Journal

        Ah, the state of corporate America these days. When the options boil down to - spending 20 minutes of a computer analysts time to put a proper robots.txt file up or spend tens of thousands of dollars to drag another company into court - and you pick the latter option?

        What's the real motive here?

        Putting up robots.txt doesn't solve the problem. That gets them off Google and the other aggregators, but doesn't get them what they want, which is either

        1) To prevent Google and the other aggregators from aggregating at all (otherwise, having everyone but themselves on Google is pretty much corporate suicide)
        or
        2) To force Google to both aggregate AND to pay them for it.

        Unfortunately for them, 2) pretty much requires legislative action. Even if they were to get the courts to declare aggregation to be copyright infringement, Google could just cut a deal with the smarter and/or more hungry papers to aggregate their stuff for free, leaving the whiners out in the cold with neither direct revenue nor eyeballs.

      • Indeed. Sounds like a sound plan. Force Google to remove your content, and stop spidering it again, then watch as - like your paper readership - your online readership slowly drops to zero.

        IMHO, probably just a sad ploy to try and stongarm Google into sharing some of their ad. revenue aka YouTube...

        As per the MAAFIA: Failing Business Model + Lack of talent & imagination = Sue somebody

        Sell their shares...

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Force Google to remove your content, and stop spidering it again, then watch as your online readership instantly drops to zero.

          Fixed.

      • by Thaelon (250687)

        Money.

      • by Absolut187 (816431) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:51AM (#27502649) Homepage

        >> What's the real motive here?

        They don't want Google to stop.

        They want Google to pay them royalties.

        Google should terminate its indexing of any newspaper that threatens to sue them.

        • by coryking (104614) * on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @09:13AM (#27502983) Homepage Journal

          Google should terminate its indexing of any newspaper that threatens to sue them.

          Google needs them just as much as they need Google. Google can be an arrogant bunch at times, and they are a bit green in the ears when it comes to politics. The AP is threatening to sue because aside from legislation, it is one a point of leverage in negotiation.

          I was going to say that Slashdot isn't a good example, but even this very story links to at least two major newspapers who I would guess are part of the NAA. What would Slashdot link to if they pulled the plug on aggregation?

          Bottom line is, in the digital age how can you keep the people who write the stories that you and I are discussing employed?

          Nothing is as easy as it first appears, and if it seems easy, you are probably forgetting something.

      • by coryking (104614) *

        If you think it is robots.txt that is the answer, you are incorrect. This is politics and Google doesn't have much experience with political plays plus they are highly arrogant.

        Google has all the power in this business relationship and the Newspaper industry has very little. Threatening to sue is about the only realistic leverage they have. Going nuclear (aka robots.txt) isn't an option for either party.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mea37 (1201159)

      And remember folks, he is Google's lawyer

      Fixed.

      Sure he's a lawyer, and so we can assume he's qualified to talk about the law. But as Google's lawyer, it's his job to present a view of the law that agrees with Google. It doesn't mean he's right or wrong; but I wouldn't just take his word as gospel.

      IANAL, though I've studied copyright a few times in my life and am certainly an opinionated layman. I generally like what he has to say, but fair use is a risky place to play. The law gives some guidance on wh

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by russotto (537200)

        And I suspect that comes down in pretty good agreement with what Google's lawyer is saying; but I always do worry when people throw non-sequiturs into their copyright arguments, like "I'm really helping the copyright owner"... maybe; so what?

        That goes to one of the four factors of the fair use test -- the effect upon the work's value in the marketplace. So it's actually not irrelevant. If my use of your work makes your work MORE valuable to you rather than less, that's a good argument that my use is fair

        • by mea37 (1201159)

          That's one interpretation. I don't know if it's ever been successfully argued, and actually I hope not.

          As I see it, the intent ot the "impact on value" criteria has to do with whether there's negative impact -- if there is, it's an argument against fair use (though no criteria in isolation is conclusive either way).

          Saying that positive impact is an argument for fair use (any more than 'no impact') implies that I can ignore your rights as long as its for your own good. Is it ok for your broker to trade you

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by xouumalperxe (815707)

            As I see it, the intent ot the "impact on value" criteria has to do with whether there's negative impact (...)

            Saying that positive impact is an argument for fair use (any more than 'no impact') implies that I can ignore your rights as long as its for your own good

            Actually "not negative" is the same as "equals, or is greater than, zero". So if I say that it's positive, I'm stating I fulfil a qualified version of the requirement.

            Plus, the OP said, "If my use of your work makes your work MORE valuable to you rather than less, that's a good argument that my use is fair (assuming enough of the other factors are satisfied).".

    • by bobdinkel (530885)

      I'd say Macgillivray is right

      He makes a pretty common argument that Google News actually helps every news service as opposed to the AP's claims of hurting them (maybe even stealing from them).

      I work for a struggling national newspaper. It isn't the New York Times, but you've certainly heard of it. And for our editorial staff, getting one of our stories picked up by Google news is about the best thing that can happen. We love it.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:00AM (#27501977) Journal

    First they discontinued my evening paper & replaced it with the morning paper, which I don't like. Then the idiot delivery woman keeps throwing papers in the middle of the street, where they get squashed by passing cars (or disappear completely). I've complained but the news executives have done naught to fix the problem. What's this have to do with the article? It all comes-back to the same root problem:

    - They care more about the almighty $$$ then they do about keeping the customer happy, and that is why they will ultimately fail.

    • by GrahamCox (741991)
      Then the idiot delivery woman keeps throwing papers in the middle of the street, where they get squashed by passing cars (or disappear completely). I've complained but the news executives have done naught to fix the problem

      Maybe you should just complain to the newsagent that employs her instead? Sometimes going all the way to the top isn't as effective...
      • I did. He did nothing, so I asked for the boss's boss who IS an executive manager.

        • If you do not like the level of service you get from them, cancel your paper subscription and start getting all of your news from google news. Make sure that when you cancel you tell them that you are canceling your subscription because you do not get a decent enough level of service and as such you are going to get your news from google news instead.
    • I met Rupert in Melbourne once at some kind of technology convention, naturally he had no time for anyone before he was shuffled off in a luxury car to other more worthy members of the human race. He didn't strike me as having a single shred of decency, a man that has enough money in liquid cash to support the next 36 generations of his offspring in a lavish life of hookers and beer. Is it any wonder that these people at the top of the pyramid are not sympathetic to your messed up newspaper? After all, they

      • by tpgp (48001) *

        a man that has enough money in liquid cash to support the next 36 generations of his offspring in a lavish life of hookers and beer.

        Well, of course - he's trying to save enough cash to keep the next 36 generations of his offspring in a lavish life of hookers and cocaine.

        Frankly, what else would you expect from a conservative?

      • by tuxgeek (872962) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:23AM (#27502237)

        He didn't strike me as having a single shred of decency

        Sometime tune into Fox News just for the hell of it
        < 5 minutes will verify this statement

    • by JerkBoB (7130) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:51AM (#27502651)

      Then the idiot delivery woman keeps throwing papers in the middle of the street, where they get squashed by passing cars (or disappear completely).

      Remember paperboys? Sigh. I'm old enough that I can claim to have been one of the last of that breed.

      From what I heard, they phased them out in the years after I stopped doing it (late 80s, early 90s) because kids just weren't reliable about managing themselves. It wasn't that complicated, but it did require commitment to doing the same thing at the same time(s) every day.

      The pay was peanuts, but it felt good at 11 to have some income on my own other than my allowance. And having an endless supply of rubber bands meant that I became a deadly shot with them (against assorted flying insects, anyhow).

      Sigh... zzzwha? Gerroff mah lawn you damn kids!

      • >>>Remember paperboys?

        Yes mine delivered the paper to my porch, where it was nice-and-safe. He got laid-off when the evening paper stopped.

    • by Noexit (107629) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:52AM (#27502659) Homepage

      One thing to remember about the newspaper business: The home delivery subscriber is *not* the customer. The advertiser is. Find a misprint in a graphic ad with color that you've placed and you'll get an entirely different type of response.

  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:02AM (#27502017)

    "Being as this is Google, the most powerful media aggregator in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"

      Eric Schmidt's

    • Re:Dirty Schmidt (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MartinSchou (1360093) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @09:24AM (#27503135)

      I'd go with a quote from "The Dark Knight" instead:

      Let me get this straight: You think that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands. And your plan is to blackmail this person? Good luck.

  • This Just In... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jawn98685 (687784) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:03AM (#27502023)

    When it comes to what news "consumers" want, Google CEO "gets it". Old media CEO's don't. Film at eleven.

    OK, so this ain't exactly news, but jeezuz, how hard is it to grasp the fact that a large number of the eyeballs viewing your "news" arrive at your web site via a link on Google news?

    Hey, Eric. Cut one or two of them off for a week. Given them a heads up first, and suggest that they pay attention to their traffic numbers. Then let's all ask their board of directors what they think of how things are going when no one "steals" their content.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      " large number of the eyeballs viewing your "news""

      Guess what, even more people get the chance to see the ads that Google serv.

      I think its a tricky question. But face it, Google is using others work to make money, its not a favor to newspapers, thats just a side effect.

      • by multisync (218450)

        But face it, Google is using others work to make money, its not a favor to newspapers, thats just a side effect.

        You could say the same thing of any site Google indexes. And there's a really simple solution if you don't like it: use a robots.txt file.

        The same goes for the Associated Press [slashdot.org]. These news organizations have it within their control to "opt out" of having Google provide one or two sentence snippets of their articles and a link to their site. But they won't do that, because they want Google to index

    • What is news is that in 2009, this is still being discussed. The problem is the old guard running news sites don't know how or don't want to adapt.

      Come on. Creating relevant content on a daily basis is hard and takes money. I read or watch the news and a dozen questions pop into my mind about the story, but finding the answers is work and the news cycle is so quick, that those answers can't be had in time.
    • Re:This Just In... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jacksinn (1136829) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:43AM (#27502499)

      but jeezuz, how hard is it to grasp the fact that a large number of the eyeballs viewing your "news" arrive at your web site via a link on Google news?

      The president of the internet division of the newspaper conglomerate I work for actually said this in response to a manager suggesting working more closely with Google to improve SEO: "We don't want users to search for our site. We need to focus on the users who are on our site and make it easier for them to find the content they want via our internal search." Yeah. We don't want silly new readers. And we don't want readers to be able to find us on search engines. They should just know to come here and when they're here, they'll then learn how to use a search engine - our search engine. I bet our search algorithms are totally better than google's.

      • Re:This Just In... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by coryking (104614) * on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @09:35AM (#27503301) Homepage Journal

        How about instead of laughing, you think about what he actually means. Instead of thinking "OMG, stupid suits LOL", think "this guy knows more about business and marketing than I do, but doesn't know tech, what does he really mean".

        We don't want users to search for our site. We need to focus on the users who are on our site and make it easier for them to find the content they want via our internal search

        Translation:

        We want people who hit our site to stick around. If people come in via Google search, I'm afraid they aren't going to browse our site and look at other bits of content. I think that by encouraging people to use our own search, they might stay for a while.

        And he is right. People who come into a site via Google Search are the "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" kind. They hit the page, and go away. The only way to make money on this kind of traffic is to plaster your stories with advertising in hopes they exit via an ad rather than the back button. Is this what you want?

        If you really want to be helpful, you should think about what the person means and help solve that. How can you make inbound Google traffic "sticky"? If you can't how can you maximize your ad revenue from that traffic? Is there a way to do both? Can you offer user-registration and when you visit when you are logged-in, strip out most of the ads (registered users never click on ads)? Can you somehow alter the layout of the page to offer additional content that might lure search engine traffic into reading more than just one page?

        Think like a business person, not a nerd. Your president makes perfect sense.

    • *THAT'LL SHOW 'EM!*

      Oh wait, then Google News wouldn't have any content and no one would end up going to Google News anymore. Hrm...

    • It is not (only) about money. It's about control. They don't want Google sending visitors to them, they don't want people comparing different sources in a news aggregator, they don't want their asses exposed without them knowing when a bad piece of news slips by. This all takes control from them. It gets much harder to manipulate people this way, and their business model fails without tight control.
  • by dcm684 (1281754) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:09AM (#27502081)
    The behavior of the newspapers in regards to services like Google News has always surprised me. Google is providing the papers another means of distributing content, and its at no cost to the paper. Personally, if I see a snippet of news on something that interests me, I will click the link and go straight to the news source's website. I have always assumed that that is a desirable outcome for the news sources.

    The only thing that Google does is provide the consumer with more options. Since I use Google News I am more likely to use multiple sources for my national and global news. I guess this scares the newspapers a little bit.
  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:09AM (#27502083) Journal

    I'd be willing to bet that there's a growing chunk of the online population who, like my self, may read content from newspapers, but only do so through online aggregators.

    I never check the NYT, Washington Post, NY Post, etc. directly - either the paper or online versions. If I read an article at any of their sites, it's because it's been linked to on a blog or came through in an RSS feed from an aggregator.

    They're assuming that people use their websites the way people use their newspapers, and that's probably not the case anymore, and surely won't be in the future.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573)

      They're assuming that people use their websites the way people use their newspapers, and that's probably not the case anymore, and surely won't be in the future.

      It hasn't been the case for years and it will continue to not be the case in the future. They are doing exactly the same thing that the RIAA and in many ways the MPAA has failed to do...get users to view their content on their terms instead of their customers' terms.

      I do not want to go to an advertisement filled website that takes 100 seconds to loa

  • by AdmiralXyz (1378985) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:13AM (#27502143)

    Can someone please explain to me what exactly is these newspapers are complaining about? I just don't get it. If Google stripped all the content off the websites of these newspapers and attached their own ads to it, then I would see the problem, but that's not what they're doing.

    Google News directs you to the newspaper's website. If I get to a nytimes.com article through Google News, it's the exact same website as I would be served if I typed nytimes.com into my browser and navigated to the website. Same content, same ads. Google is giving them traffic, so I fail to see what the problem is.

    Is it that there are also ads on the Google News page itself?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Brahmastra (685988)
      Their problem is, right below their article on google news, there is another perspective from some other source, right in front of you for you to compare and contrast. That is definitely harmful to toilet paper publications like the ones Rupert Murdoch owns.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by corbettw (214229)

      I think the problem is that you didn't go to the NYT homepage (and see the ads there) before going to the article page (to see the ads there). So while Google is sending you to a page full of ads, you're still bypassing a different page full of ads. If Google (and other aggregators) weren't bypassing the homepages of newspapers, they would (theoretically, at least) get twice the revenue from each visitor.

      The problem with this thinking is that the newspapers are failing to realize they are getting visits fro

    • I just don't get it. If Google stripped all the content off the websites of these newspapers and attached their own ads to it, then I would see the problem, but that's not what they're doing. Google News directs you to the newspaper's website.

      Not me! I'm perfectly content reading just the snippets Google steals. Who could want more than these complete stories?

      BBC News-34 minutes ago
      Italy is preparing to hold the first funerals for victims of the powerful earthquake which struck the country's central Abruzz

  • Maybe papers should stop alienating readers by printing endless, shallow ideological bullshit. See the Los Angeles Times for a prime example of editors living in reality distortion bubbles, and an editorial page that has expanded to encompass the entire paper.
  • I use google news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:19AM (#27502195)

    I use it because I can set up email alerts that let me scan a multitude of newspapers for certain keywords related to my business. The newspaper conglomerates themselves COULD have gotten together and put together a similar service, but they DIDN'T. Now google news is the only service that offers this. It's not google's fault that they have dragged their heals and clung desperately to the old model of doing things for so long.

    I'll say to them what I would say to the movie and music industry: Adapt to the new way of doing things or don't complain when you suffer for your stubbornness.

  • by VShael (62735) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:19AM (#27502199) Journal

    'These are ultimately consumer businesses and if you piss off enough of them, you will not have any more.'

    He may be a lawyer, but he doesn't understand who the consumers are in the newspaper model.

    Newspapers, like much of modern media, sell audiences to advertisers.
    So asking the news media to think of their readers, is meaningless. They never do, except as a product to sell to the advertisers.

    This is ultimately an Advertiser business.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DeweyQ (1247570)
      I can't see your sarcasm or irony flag, but I'll respond as if you truly meant it.

      "Ultimately" is the key word that seems to be in contention. As you point out, you need to sell readers to advertisers. Therefore, annoying your readers and driving them away (which the newspaper business is doing with aplomb these days), will hit your advertiser-based business model pretty hard in the end.

      I will absolutely agree that asking the news media to think of readers is usually meaningless, but that's because many
    • by scubamage (727538)
      Are you kidding me? That's completely wrong. My housemate is a graphic designer/programmer for Tribune Media, aka the Tribune newspapers. 99% of their revenue does come from advertising, but hardcopy sales have been dropping for years, and with them, hardcopy advertising prices. At this point almost all of their advertising revenue comes from online advertising. Yes news aggregators show a short blurb, but to read the full article you are sent to the original website. Check Google News [google.com] yourself and click a
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wowbagger (69688)

      He may be a lawyer, but he doesn't understand who the consumers are in the newspaper model.

      Newspapers, like much of modern media, sell audiences to advertisers.

      I agree with what you are trying to say 100%, but there is a bit of a tweak I'd make to how you are saying it:

      For any product, there are the consumers of the product, and there are the customers who buy it. Those two sets may have zero overlap.

      The consumers of a product are the actual users.

      The customers of a producer are the ones who actually pay fo

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Actually, both advertisers and readers are consumers. Both readers and the paper itself are products. This equation works from both ends.

    • And what do you think those papers are worth without the readers?

      It IS a consumer based business. The product that the papers deliver to their customers is the consumer, just as Google's customers are the advertisers and their product is the consumer.

      Just like on the web, without the subscriber count and page views, the medium is worthless (from a revenue stand point). Something tells me Google gets it. Even (especially) their lawyers.

      In fact, the only difference between Google and old News Corporations i

    • by dfdashh (1060546)
      This is ultimately an Advertiser business.

      And what is it, exactly, that you think draws advertisers to the news outlet in the first place?
  • The Guardian Media Group has asked the Government to examine Google News and other content aggregators [today.com], claiming they contribute insufficiently to their income.

    "The newspapers put their content up on the web for free and then Google, the freeloading bastards, tell people where to find it. We told them to pay up or stop using our stuff, and they said OK, they'd stop using our stuff! Not giving us free money is a clear abuse of Google's power.

    "We need the Government to bring back balance, 'balance' defined as being able to make them give us money because we want it. You'd think the Internet wasn't invented to give newspapers and record companies free money!"

    The newspaper group argues that traffic from search engines does not make up the cost of producing the content. "Ad revenue has collapsed, so search engine traffic doesn't bring in enough views to pay for itself. Our inability to sell ads is clearly Google's problem. It's also the BBC's problem, so we should get some of the TV licencing fee too."

    The Guardian suggests the exploration of new models that "require fair acknowledgement of the value that our content creates, both on our own site through advertising and 'at the edges' in the world of search and aggregation. Basically, they should just give us money because we want it. And the music industry too. How about a bailout? Go on, gi's it."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:26AM (#27502267)

    The big media companies had over 8 years to start throwing hardball questions at ol W, their failure to do so has rendered them useless in my eyes & in the eyes of many Americans.

    Nowadays, it is pretty much assumed that if you want the full story on any given news article you need to go to at least 3 different sources (with at least 2 of them being non-mainstream.)

    I dont even bother with newspapers anymore, just like teevee news, theyre nothing but fear and fluff. You dont get anything in-depth stories except about the kitty-cat who found his way home over 1000 miles.

    You guys made this bed, you lie in it.

  • That's like telling a TV network to care what their viewer wants.

    Nobody cares about readers or viewers. What counts is the ads. Basically, the content is the necessary evil around the ads.

  • by hyades1 (1149581)

    The average person wants everything for nothing. As long as they have the illusion that they're getting it, they're happy. That's the current situation.

    Schmidt is a leech happily feeding on content provided by the newspapers. Their ad revenue is tanking because it's so easy to get news free (and that's exactly what people are doing), but the papers still have to pay their reporters and editors. Anybody who believes bloggers and those overpaid drones on cable news can do the job a decent investigative

    • by svendsen (1029716)
      You can't be serious? it costs money to actually do good research? You mean reporters who want to go into war zones to let us know what is going on would actually like a support structure in place and compensation for putting their lives in grave danger?

      Maybe once all these people who want money to do reporting go away we can go to a free model where the state supplies all our news for nothing! No worries there...
    • by DeweyQ (1247570)

      Meanwhile, the access to real information, which helps keep society free, dies off.

      The Internet has done more for freedom in society than any other single force.

      Newspapers are indeed the only people employing reporters currently. Although journalism will not die, newspapers certainly will if they continue to willfully avert their eyes from the writing on the wall. We don't know what the outcome of this upheaval will be. But I'm pretty sure blaming Google and calling Schmidt names isn't a way to resolve it. I will once again point to Clay Shirky's article on the subject: http://www.sh [shirky.com]

    • by peragrin (659227)

      Do you know what a news aggrestor does? From your response I would say no.
      Googles news searches news articles puts the headline and the first sentence or two foryou to view. They include a link to the source in question. If you want to know more you go to the source and their own ads.

      News aggerrator only increase views for a source. While google gets some ad revenue while your on their site, when your reading the main article they get the ad revenue.

      If AP was smart they would create their own aggerator. Ho

  • if newspaper organizations do not have viable model. In essence good quality news requires presence of high quality tools and personnel that can be deployed rapidly across the globe to cover a wide range of events. If they cannot generate sufficient money from their effort and go down who will do this job ?

    News aggregators need news for aggregation. I havent heard anyone in slashdot help address this fundamental challenge.

    this is not a tirade against google or argument in favor of newspapers but just wonder

  • I strongly believe news and search go hand-in-hand, and news outlets can only gain from this pairing of services. If I'm searching for a tidbit of news I'll often get my answer on a non-local news website that I'd never have visited otherwise. For instance, in recent memory I've read some impressive technology journalism in a Salt Lake City publication, and other interesting pieces in the Christian Science Monitor and Al Jazeera, so I'm compelled to trust these outlets again in the future.

    I trust Google e

  • I've totally given up ABC news because it redirects so many times it thwacks my back button. Not on my PC, that's fine, but I typically read the news during down time the rest of the day, ex: waiting for food, before class, at the coffee shop, etc...

    ABCNews is already gone, I wish google had an option to remove a news source. NYTimes killed my WM5 phone(as in crashed iexplorer.exe, not that difficult of a task) but I think they fixed it before I switched to the 'droid.

  • This is Madness. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreakNO@SPAMeircom.net> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:48AM (#27502591) Homepage Journal

    I wrote a comment yesterday [slashdot.org] about how the newspaper industry has lost most of an entire generation of readers due to the declining quality of their product. Now they are standing to lose all of that generation, and the next one coming, by making their content effectively inaccessible.

    Like it or not, most people under 30 get their news from the internet. Some will read the occasional newspaper, or watch the TV, or listen to the radio, but the bottom line is that they are spending more time online than all three put together. They're going to look for information and news online before they look for it elsewhere.

    People want one click news. Google news, while it isn't perfect, is providing them what they want. An easy way to get the latest headlines, and to search for news topics that interest them and that may not have recieved general coverage. Think about what the service is doing. It's combining the strengths of online, national and local news sources, all in one feed. As a reader of news online, I can safely say that well over 95% of the news stories I have read online were come by via the Google news service.

    Newspapers, for some obscure reason, don't seem to like this. Instead they would prefer to make it harder to find their content, and ultimately harder to read it. Imagine an online business that demanded that Google and every other search engine stop indexing their content. It would be lunacy, yet that's exactly what these newspapers are doing.

    There is a fundamental law to Internet business, if I may:

    If you put barriers between users and your online content, your site will die.

    It doesn't matter how high quality your site's content is. If people cannot get past the barriers between them and it, they will turn to your competitors, one of whom will have information they can access quickly and conveniently. Time and again it has been shown that the more open and accessible a site is, the more traffic it will accumulate. True, there may not be much quality control on the traffic (Myspace, Gamespot, etc), but if your site is advertisement based, this will not matter a fiddlers to you.

    So here is Google, doing newspapers a favour, by making their online content easier to acess and read, ultimately drawing more eyeballs to the ads on their story pages. And what do they do? They spit in Googles face and demand cold hard cash for every ten word story excerpt. It's lunacy. The product of minds either deranged or deluded. These people seem unable to grasp the consequences of their actions, unlike Google, who has understood the mechanics of all this from day one.

    If the The Guardian manages to get its content delisted from Google news and other feeds, then the only effect will be that I, and millions of others, will no longer click into The Guardian website. It will be almost as if their site did not exist. And because people are moving to online over print news, these newspapers will lose an entire generation of not just online readers, but readers period. They are asking to drink hemlock, nay, demanding to do so.

    I don't know who is running these newspapers. But whoever they are, they clearly do not actually understand how the newspaper industry actually work anymore. They seem to be like the bankers and economists in the financial industry, who knew so little about their businesses that they, against all reason, rationality and common sense, threw all their money, reputations and futures away for nothing. There is no logic to the decisions of management at these newspapers, yet they persist in this folly.

    This probably points to some underlying pathology in the way western companies in general are run. They seem to be quite happy to lose every last one of their customers as long as they retain complete control over the dregs that remain.

    • Newspaper quality has gone down because of two main factors: unwillingness of users to pay for information, and dependence on advertising. What gave you the idea that an advertiser is the best decider of what you learn? Because that's what you're getting.

      Google is destroying the independence of newspapers by reducing the value of their content below what it costs to generate it. This opens the field to special interests - the "news" promoted by Rupert Murdoch, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, th

      • by motek (179836)

        I can only support what you wrote. I feel that a certain type of looking at world and world's affairs, best embodied by a persistent, even if sometimes slightly dodgy, newspaper reporter, seems to be going away. A lofty name for that: investigative journalism. Google offers to replace it by, as you put it, a combination of press releases and dog show reports. When it comes to getting to the bottom of things, well meaning bloggers will not even stand a chance against a desk sergeant of Wichita police, let al

  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @08:55AM (#27502705)

    long ago. It has been at least a decade, possibly longer, since American newspapers decided to stop reporting and become repackagers of AP feeds. If you saw Google News when it first started, that fact was so glaringly, embarrassingly obvious that they took it down. That is, every single paper they were pulling from had the exact same articles, pulled from the AP, with perhaps a minor title change or slight change to the wording. The San Jose Mercury looked almost identical to the Boston Globe.

    Then you have the abject failure of newspapers to investigate and confront at least two of the biggest disasters to occur in the past decade, the thin fabric of lies the Bush administration peddled to take the country into Iraq, and the financial collapse that we're currently suffering through. They merrily went along with the charade. The Grey Lady, the New York Times, for instance stood four-square behind its shill Judith Miller then, and still employs the hack Adam Nagourney whose spintastic gibberish would have gotten his ass insta-fired at the New York Times of 20 years ago.

    And the final vestiges of editorial spine are snapping. George Will published blatant, factually incorrect statements in an op-ed of his last month that the Washington Post has yet to even address, much less issue a retraction for.

    Newspapers therefore abandoned their core value proposition, to be sources of useful information, a long time ago because it was cheaper. It's just taken a while for citizens and readers to realize that and act accordingly.

    So really, the Internet is only killing what was already dead. But increasingly major investigative style news is being broken by bloggers and citizen journalists, so there is a hope that online real reporting will live again.

  • If people are reading your content at Google News instead of at your site, what does it matter if you're pissing off readers ?

    Sometimes it's better to just step out and cut your loses than to worry about whether you're pissing anyone off.
  • 1,500 newspapers all want to sue Google because it is now painfully obvious that all 1,500 papers in the country bought the same story from AP/UPI?
  • For anyone that hasn't read it, here is a great indictment of the idiocy of the newspapers, written by the lead writer for SearchEngineLand: http://daggle.com/090406-225638.html [daggle.com]
  • They're Both Wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hanksims (957929) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @09:36AM (#27503311)

    I'm a small-town newspaper editor. I'm feeling the pain, though not nearly as bad as most papers are. We're independent, so we actually have to run as a business and not as an overleveraged financial con game, the way so many large news chains are these days. This turns out to mean that we weather the storm far better than the big guys.

    The Associated Press' recent saber-rattling in Google's direction is, I believe, nothing more than some moguls' desperate attempt to wring some cash out of some successful Internet companies on their way out the door. The fact is that there was always a five-minute remedy to the supposed wrongs done to them -- robots.txt -- will probably devastate their case. But who knows? Maybe they figure they can get some go-away money. The legal system doesn't always go the way you might expect it to.

    That said, Schmidt's idea that newspapers should live in fear of "pissing off" readers is fatuous and lame, and exactly wrong. Sure, this should be the case when it comes to usability -- by all means, get the info in front of eyeballs any way you can, and with the absolute minimum amount of pain on the user's end. That should be everyone's goal.

    But then there's content, and here it is absolutely essential to risk pissing off your readers with every issue. The news people need to hear -- the news that it's important for them to hear -- is bad news. The fact that you print bad news is going to inevitably piss people off. Maybe a lot of people. You want news that pisses no one off? You're asking for a Chamber of Commerce newsletter, not a newspaper. And look how well read those are.

  • Call Their Bluff (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CritterNYC (190163) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:01AM (#27503687) Homepage

    The newspapers here are obviously being given a choice between:

    A) Google aggregates/indexes their content, shows snippets and images and links to them

    B) They opt-out using robots.txt or metatags and no longer appear in Google News

    What the whiners really want is:

    C) Google aggregates/indexes their content, shows snippets and images and links to them AND PAYS THEM

    But since they don't want to come right out and say that, they bitch and moan about copyright and monopolies and aliens and whatever else they can think of.

    I think this could easily be solved if Google called their bluff. When each entity gets whiny and preachy and targets Google with these types of stories, Google should ask them if they'd like to be removed... Yes or No. If they refuse to choose yes or no, Google dumps them. Within a week, their traffic will drop so much that they'll be begging Google to be back in.

What the world *really* needs is a good Automatic Bicycle Sharpener.

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