Murdoch vs Google: Don Quixote Redux

April 5, 2009

Quite a thrill to read “

Murdoch Wants A Google Rebellion” by Dirk Smille in Forbes here. Forbes is the business magazine with the wacky Web site that befuddles me. This article has a subtitle that was almost a throwback to what made newspapers war fun to study. Either Mr. Smille or his editors wrote:

The media mogul says Google is stealing from publishers. It could be the call to arms that newsrooms need

I like the softening of the “newspaper war” metaphor to a “call to arms”. I waddled into this story with goose-like anticipation. Mr. Smille asserted:

Rupert Murdoch threw down the gauntlet to Google Thursday, accusing the search giant of poaching content it doesn’t own and urging media outlets to fight back. “Should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyrights?” asked the News Corp. chief at a cable industry confab in Washington, D.C., Thursday. The answer, said Murdoch, should be, ” ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ “

You will be hearing more about this challenge in my opinion. At one time, Mr. Smille upgrades a newspaper owner’s lament into a shotgun blast:

Barrel one: Google is stealing content. Keep in mind that the word “steal” means, according to my online and free dictionary

to take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, esp. secretly or by force: A pickpocket stole his watch.

The use of the word creates a nifty duality—right wrong, black white, up down.

Barrel two: the phrase “fight back”. Google is in my opinion is on the wrong side of truth, justice, and the newspaper way. I have joked that Google is Godzilla, but Mr. Murdoch is taking this viewpoint and apparently using it to defend the traditional media empire from the predations of the GOOG.

Mr. Smille wrote what I think is an interesting sentence:

For now, newspapers’ attempts at gaming Google remain “rogue efforts,” says Anthony Moor, deputy managing editor of the Dallas Morning News Online and a director of the Online News Association. “I wish newspapers could act together to negotiate better terms with companies like Google. Better yet, what would happen if we all turned our sites off to search engines for a week? By creating scarcity, we might finally get fair value for the work we do.” Sounds like an idea Murdoch would endorse.

In my opinion, Mr. Murdoch has embraced the spirit of Don Quixote. The problem is that Google can move and windmills cannot. Another goosely thought: young folks are not too keen on traditional media in my opinion. Perhaps Mr. Murdoch will go ?after those folks too

Stephen Arnold, April 5, 2009


3 Responses to “Murdoch vs Google: Don Quixote Redux”

  1. Rupert Murdoch comments on Google | Technovia on April 5th, 2009 5:54 am

    […] Murdoch vs Google: Don Quixote Redux ( […]

  2. Anthony Moor on April 5th, 2009 9:56 am

    Hi. I’m Anthony Moor, the second guy Dirk quoted. I can’t speak for Murdoch, of course, but your analysis is on point regarding my own thinking. Dirk and I talked for a while and I made it clear from the outset that I don’t begrudge Google for it’s search technology. Indeed, it is essential to navigating the Web, and it delivers a significant amount of traffic to my Web site. Without Google, finding what you want on the Web would be much more difficult.

    What I did try to explain to Dirk, however, is that I’m uncomfortable with the fact that Google is so dominant in this space and as a result, the content providers are forced to live by their secret algorithms. And I joked that late at night I wonder what would happen if news sites were ‘turned off’ — would it matter to the public? But I’m not so dumb that I think by refusing to allow Google to index our sites we somehow can fix our own business problems.

  3. Stephen E. Arnold on April 5th, 2009 10:58 am

    Anthony Moor,

    Thanks for your comment. I now think it may be too late for the traditional publishing companies. I had dinner last night with two former top journalists in Illinois. Single voices may not have much financial magnetism. Single news organizations may not have much pull either I fear.

    Stephen Arnold, April 5, 2009

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