Murdoch and Google: Temperature Rising

April 8, 2010

I read “Rupert Murdoch defiant: ‘I’ll Stop Google Taking Our News for Nothing’” and realized that Google may find the business temperature rising. The period between 2006 and 2008 was a period of relative calm. Since 2009, Google finds itself in the same situation that was going to plague Gulliver. Folks who seemed “small” to Gulliver found ways to tie down Swift’s big boy.

The write up reported that the news industry has to charge for content. For me the most interesting comment in the article was:

“We are going to stop people like Google or Microsoft or whoever from taking stories for nothing … there is a law of copyright and they recognize it,” Murdoch told a packed audience of students, journalists and other media professionals. He said search engines had tapped into a “river of gold” by aggregating content but that the days of free news had to come to an end. “They take [news content] for nothing. They have got this very clever business model,” he said.

Interesting to see if this is the shot that escalates the tension among the Googley and non Googley by an order of magnitude.

I thought that newspapers sold advertising. The news was an important part of the mix, but ads carried the freight. Google moved into advertising and now the newspapers have to find something to sell. Content seems to be it. In my experience, the value of content in an online environment is devilishly hard to make pay at the levels associated with the traditional newspaper method in a pre digital era. I worked at a pretty good newspaper, and I have to say that the newspaper’s ability to create original content has deteriorated over the years. Now with the costs of innovating in software added to existing costs, the executives like Mr. Murdoch have their work cut out for them.

Google is a target, but I don’t think Google is the problem. Google is at a tipping point itself. Innovation won’t do the job. Complicated factors are now operating, and I think the next surprise may be an emergent one. Tough to predict too.


Stephen E Arnold, April 8, 2010

A freebie.


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