January 31, 2006
Newspaper Organization Ponders Move Against Search Giants
The Paris-based World Association of Newspapers (WAN) is considering various actions against news aggregators such as Yahoo, Google, MSN, and others. These search giants collect news and photos and make them available in their own sites without compensating the individual news sources. Newspapers on the whole have been suffering slides in circulation which have resulted in staff layoffs and and other cost cutting means. As more people get news from the Internet they are less likely to subscribe. News aggregators profit at the expense of these newspapers, says WAN.
True in one sense, but not in another. It is true that Google, Yahoo, and others collect stories from news sources around the world as a set of conveniently organized search links. Google's best chance of profiting from their collection of stories is to place their own ads around or in the story, but they don't do it. In fact, they link to the original source and direct traffic to where the local ads appear and theoretically the local paper get credit for the page view and any click-throughs. A majority of these papers give their content away to anyone who clicks on their web address. And of those papers who get a little squishy about giving away content, they make consumers jump through a non-monetary hoop by making them subscribe. Even small ones like the Dodge Globe of Dodge City, Kansas require a subscription to get past the tantalizing stories of high school sports ("Bluejays Beat Satanta Twice").
Many of these newspapers have a little box on their pages that say something like "Ads by Google." Perhaps the way to make money is to work with the search engines rather than trying to beat them up. Or maybe, if someone can figure out the micro-payments on the web, the papers should simply charge for their original content as opposed to the stories they get from places such as AP and Reuters. Stopping Google or Yahoo or MSN from collecting their stories is not going to shore up newspaper profits. Time for a new business model.
January 31, 2006 | Permalink
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