Google News in Trouble

By mike_danhofmike_danhof (1261366865|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

In an interesting series of events, Google may be soon running into problems for its extremely popular and widely-used News search.

Google is Wrong, Microsoft is Right

These two articles from the Motley Fool give two very different perspectives about Google News search and where they get there content. In the first, Rich Smith slams Google for their contiuned use and indexing of content from newspapers, like The Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, and more. The common thread in these sources is one man - Rupert Murdoch. He is the media-mogul owner of these news outlets, as well as Fox Network. Mr. Smith states that Rupert Murdoch's recent threat to pull his content from Google's index, because these sites and newspapers are not paid for using their content for free on Google, equates to this:

Check your calendars, Fools. Note the date. On Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009, Rupert Murdoch saved journalism as we know it. And wouldn't you know it — he saved it from Google.

A pretty heavy statement. Interestingly, he states in his article that although Google doesn't pay for WSJ.com content, more than 26% of internet traffic to WSJ comes from Google searches. To test this, I did a search of General Motors, and as you can see below, the top two links are to WSJ content:


gmgoogle.jpg

On one hand, Mr. Smith makes some good points about paying WSJ and other news sources. He says in his article:

Our generation has grown up thinking that everything on the internet should be free - information, music, games, and more. This may be good for us, but it is a terrible business model for the providers. They are forced to rely on shady advertising and click-through's on sites like Google and Yahoo! to generate all their revenue. And as Mr. Smith says, why would you want to wait for your news to be printed and delivered (for $2 a day, mind you), when you can get online and get it for free instantly? Mr. Smith says Microsoft has taken the first, right step in creating a partnership with content providers (read: Microsoft and Murdoch together). To bring home his point, Mr. Smith leaves us with this dandy of a quote in his article:

That's why today, we should all be rooting for Murdoch. Strange as it sounds to hear myself saying this: This time, Rupert Murdoch fights on the side of the angels, and Google is the devil.

Google is doing nothing wrong

The counter-argument to this comes from the Motley Fool's own Tim Beyers. In his article, he agrees with Mr. Smith that "original reporting never should be free, digital or otherwise." However, his main argument is about the nature of links:

But we absolutely should not be calling links content. They never were, they aren't today, and they never will be. Google News indexes links. So would Bing, were Microsoft and News Corp. to reach an accord.

Google does already host some content (which is the basis of the debate) - they have an agreement with the Associated Press to host their content. But, this doesn't mean that Google should have to pay for any and all content they provide in their searches. They don't have full text articles most of the time, so they just have snippets and a link to the actual content, which is on the content providers website, not Google.

Takeaways

With Microsoft making the first move in this battle for content, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. There will be a large contingent of users who will fight for everything to stay free, saying that Google just provides links, and not content. However, as Mr. Smith said, if we don't ante up something for content, traditional media like the NYT and WSJ will have nothing to make revenue from, and will fail. This will leave us with free content only, which could seriously damage the credibility of news outlets even further.

Personally, I hope that a majority of the content will stay free. However, I already subscribe to the WSJ (receiving the paper and getting online content), so I don't feel so bad using and seeing the content for free. However, if all sources go to pay-to-view, then I would seriously be hampered in my search for daily news and research. I guess its a matter of time before we have to pay more, but we shall see…

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