Another Google Should: Buy the Associated Press

June 20, 2008

I enjoy “Google should” essays. Google has money, technology, the number one global band, and the ability to move like a ninja. Wired’s Web log carries Betsy Schiffman’s interesting essay “Forget the New York Times: Google Should Buy The AP”. You can read it here.

The idea is one way for the Associated Press to jump from the tracks and avoid the same fate as a coin placed on the railroad tracks so the wheels can flatten it. Playing on train tracks is fun; letting the wheels of the locomotive rework a penny is a sudden transformation.

The most interesting point in her essay for me is this statement: “The flip side of the equation is that web companies are picking up where the newspapers left off.”

That nails it.

The implications for enterprise search are significant. More and more organizations want to create a Folger’s blend for their Intranet or behind the firewall search users. For fee content has been available to organizations for many years. Now, why bother? Even the high value information such as financial data are becoming more findable. Stock traders need their fancy Bloomberg terminals and Reuters data. But for a snapshot of a competitor Google Finance works well for me. (Yahoo, I fear may be slipping off my radar due to organic issues at that company.)

In June 2007 I made the suggestion that the Associated Press should find a way to “surf on Google”. Perhaps the tie up between Google and AP should become more formal, as Ms. Schiffman suggests. She’s on the right insight vibe as I. The Google is more than Web search and advertising. I am more convinced than ever that my describing the company as a “supranational corporation” is an understatement. The GOOD is our own informational revolution. Instead of sitting in the Black Country in England we are in Data Country. News is one piece of raw material in this new world.

Stephen Arnold, June 20, 2008


One Response to “Another Google Should: Buy the Associated Press”

  1. Jess Bratcher on June 23rd, 2008 9:37 am

    This is an interesting idea. After 10 years in journalism, I’m familiar with the AP. It certainly has its weaknesses, and especially the past few years it’s struggled to keep up with the information explosion. While they try to stay on top of news, there’s only so much they can do with staff. Adding Google into the mix would not only guarantee the AP’s existence, it would catapult it far above any other independent news sources. Of course, being folded into a conglomerate could, alternatively, be a death blow for AP as it’s eaten by the Googlemonster. Hard to say.

    Hard copy newspapers, no matter what they say, are feeling the crunch of online encroachment and circulation is going down down down in a large percentage of papers. The only ones seeing consistent success and/or growth are the small weekly and multiweekly papers that are living on a total local news diet, something the AP, with Google or not, cannot duplicate.

    This also highlights the problem of newspapers, the web sites, and online feeds. Many papers want to charge for access to their web sites, and thus information is restricted and kept from the crawlers. I and many others are of the opinion that it’s the wrong move to charge for online access to news. The people who want to read online are reading the big stories, the state and national news for the most part. By blocking that access to something readers can easily find somewhere else, they’re losing the opportunity for lots of advertising dollars. If readers want that local flavor, then they go out and buy a single copy.

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