Not getting it

Ali Rahnema, managing director of the World Association of Newspapers, is pitching the OPA on WAN’s initiative to go after Google News and the aggregators. He acknowledges that some comments he has gotten are positive and some are angry that they are just a dead-tree industry trying to protect themselves. I vote with the latter. They don’t get it. Rahnema asks, could Google News exist if this content were not created by those papers?

That is so much the wrong question. The real question is: Will news organizations in the future exist if they are not found on Google and company?

If you want to boycott search and links, then you will die on paper.

: Rich Karlgaard of Forbes asks the OPA audience whether they agree with Rahnema about Google. Very few raise their hands. He asks who disagrees A vast majority of hands go up. Thank goodness for good sense.

: Obnoxious blogger that I am, I get up to challenge the protectionist panel and said that with their attitude, I fear for the future of the industry and of journalism because the distribution of today is about being found in search and links and aggregation and if you are not there you are not found.

Zach Leonard of said that aggregators are like newsstands and they are a place to be found.

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  • The key question is not how to stop google but how to make money from traffic generated from google- if, like us, you publish free access news there is no way round the fact that people are going to access that news..err for free. If however you pay for that free news with related advertising, or can use an exchange of free information for demographics to enrich the old database, or surround the article with with money generating added value to the reader then you are quids (or dollar or yen) in. Coz the simple fact is that Google News is free advertising for publishers not a threat. Where we are threatened by google is the fact that in a google world of perfect information then branding and marks (well apart from Google’s own of course) doesn’t have value. It is the branding elments of advertising than generate the majority of revenue for publishers, if everything is just based on cost per click, cost per enquiry, cost per call then in effect the direct marketeers have risen up from below the line to dam the flow of content.
    However certainly in the online business to business publishing sector where I am we have opportunities to take the idea of search orientated users and provide services way in excess of Google’s one size fits all B2C approach- by adding much more targetted content and advertising round very precise technical content and search we can give much higher value to the reader than Google would ever do.
    For example take a site like – we publish this), an industry buyer looking for products around antioxidants can see all the latest news at or use the search engine and see in either case we exchange the free content(Free to the user not to us) for highy targetted banners and text adverts ONLY around the highly specific category.
    A similar google search tries to sell me mangosteen juice- not very helpful to a business user.
    So my answer to WAN think more for yourselves about how to improve your services- in the long run its cheaper than legal action and franckly more profitable

  • This probably qualifies as but a minor sub-category of this topic, but some months ago I decided to “just say no” to registration-required online newspaper content.

    I currently have a list of over 30 user name/password combinations that I have to keep handy in order to get through my day without getting locked out of something I need. It’s ridiculous, and I now refuse to add any more if I can possibly help it.

    I understand that newspapers want to leverage my visits in order to build mailing lists and/or understand the demographics of their online audience, but forcing registration is an annoyance that this reader, at least, will no longer tolerate. After all, most news stories are carried by multiple sources, so if I can’t access it one place, I just move to the next . . .

  • Jeff:
    Sounds like you are channelling the ideas in my little essay on the dangers of monopoly control by search engines:

    Google Monopoly

    Not only does a site effectively not exist if the search engines chose not to index it, but it also is invisible if they index it incorrectly. This is in addition to the government sponsored actions of deliberately blocking access to search results.

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  • This is exactly what I expected to find out after reading the title Not getting it. Thanks for informative article