Want To Know Why Newspapers Are Dying? Maureen Dowd Shows Us

from the physician-heal-thyself dept

In her recent New York Times op-ed, Maureen Dowd takes aim at Google, blaming it for the sorry state of the newspaper industry. Perhaps in hopes of winning people over to the newspapers' side in the argument over how much Google should be profiting from their content, Dowd spends a lot of the article attempting to make the reader fear Google, trying to paint the company as anti-privacy and bent on "world domination."
But there is a vaguely ominous Big Brother wall in the lobby of the headquarters here that scrolls real-time Google searches -- porn queries are edited out -- from people around the world. You could probably see your own name if you stayed long enough. In one minute of watching, I saw the Washington association where my sister works, the Delaware beach town where my brother vacations, some Dave Matthews lyrics, calories Panera, females feet, soaps in depth and Douglas Mangum, whoever he is.
The uselessness of this statement is hard to overstate. If you stayed long enough you'd see your name? She saw the names of places where her sister works and her brother vacations? Ever look at a phone book or a map, Maureen? All she was seeing was evidence that people are looking for information.

And that is where Google adds value: it helps to connect people with the information they want. If Dowd would just pause the dramatics long enough, maybe she would recognize that this concept sounds very familiar. Just like newspapers have always done, Google tries to find information that its users want, and deliver it to them in a way that is useful -- and news stories are just one example of what people want Google to find for them. Dowd quotes Rupert Murdoch calling what Google does "stealing." But, Google is no more "stealing" the information to which it links than newspapers steal the events on which they report. It does not take much thinking to see the parallels. But hey, why take time to think when you can engage in some juicy fear-mongering and hyperbole?

Like many others, Dowd also makes the mistake of equating the decline of newspapers with the end of journalism, ignoring the evidence that says this is simply not true. We've already pointed out examples of how journalism can not only survive but thrive apart from physical newspapers. Newspapers were valuable when they were the most convenient, useful way to deliver the news. The content itself was always practically free. But the value of the content was used draw eyeballs to ads -- to give advertisers paid access to the community of readers. With the newspaper format now dying, entrepreneurs will find new ways to leverage the still-existent value of the free content to sell something scarce.

Fear-mongering, making misleading statements, ignoring evidence, not understanding your own business -- it's ironic that, while attempting to blame others for the woes of her own industry, Dowd makes so many of the mistakes that are really contributing to its decline.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 4:03pm

    excellent writeup! amen!

     

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    R. Miles, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 4:10pm

    I'm still baffled.

    Why in the world is Techdirt spouting anything the NYT has to say?

    Techdirt will never, ever convince these ignorant fools at the NYT they're at fault.

    So why continue trying?

    On topic: It's clearly evident Dowd is the one with fear. It shows in her write-up.

    Pathetic.

    Readers of this garbage should demand their subscription money back if this is what they're paying for.

     

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    trollificus, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 4:44pm

    Well, I don't know about everyone else...

    ...but smug, smarmy, glib, shallow blatherskates like Dowd (and Krugman and Friedman, and etc...) are the reason I hate newpapers.

    They are not mourning the death of journalism...that's a classic 4th Estate-type of lie...they are mourning the death of their status as an elite, and their role as gatekeepers and dictators of opinion, and specially privileged interpreters of The Truth.

    Good riddance, sez I.

    ps) Dowd is greatly overrated, except as an anti-Coulter. Not as overrated as Naomi Wolfe, but still...

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 9:06pm

      Re: Well, I don't know about everyone else...

      Well put; I'm in your camp and think journalists who have acted like they deserved to be the elite amongst us are the ones bitching the loudest over the decline in their prominence.

      Google didn't kill newspapers... they have killed themselves.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 4:45pm

    The End

    Like many others, Dowd also makes the mistake of equating the decline of newspapers with the end of journalism, ignoring the evidence that says this is simply not true.

    No, but it might be the end of people listening to her sorry butt. That's what she's really worried about.

     

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    another mike, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 4:46pm

    If this came from someone other than Ms Dowd, maybe someone with a firm grasp of irony, I'd be rolling on the floor sharing the joke. But this is just getting pathetic. Just another newspaper incumbent complaining about the death of their industry and then exemplifying the very things making them obsolete. It's like watching two snails crash into each other. There won't be anything interesting to see at the end and it takes forever to get there.

    /And you just googled "Douglas Mangum".

     

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    Petréa Mitchell, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 4:46pm

    It's the "ick" factor

    The point of the paragraph you quoted is to tell the reader-- the one with a typical level of technical knowledge, not you-- "You know that stuff you type into your computer in the privacy of your own home when you're alone? Google's telling the entire world about it!"

    I certainly hope the query strings are the only information being scrolled. If they're including, say, the origin of the query, there probably *is* an actionable privacy issue.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 1:40pm

      Re: It's the "ick" factor

      If they're including, say, the origin of the query, there probably *is* an actionable privacy issue.

      If Google is killing people then they should definitely be held accountable.

      There, see? I can build straw men too.

       

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    Alex, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 4:48pm

    i can haz relavints?

    NYT - markit resrch and analisis: ur doin it rong. Srsly.

     

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      nasch, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 9:09am

      Re: i can haz relavints?

      lol, I would mod this funny if there were such a thing on this site. And I'm not ashamed of it.

       

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    trollificus, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 4:54pm

    Well, Petrea...

    ...maybe you should stop using Google,

    Maybe you should get all your information from the Times...and pay a pretty penny for it, too.

    Lord knows they need the money...bribing politicians to use emminent domain to oust a bunch of "not our kind of people" so they could build a palatial office building befitting their grand self-appointed status was pretty expensive.

    Or so I heard on the internet.

     

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      Petréa Mitchell, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 9:08am

      Re: Well, Petrea...

      "...maybe you should stop using Google,"

      No thanks-- I'd have to start again first! Clusty has been giving me way better search results for years.

       

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    joe, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 4:55pm

    poor Maureen

    I read the NYT for free on my iPod touch. There might be a sliver-sized ad (usually a house ad), but nothing to cover the true cost of the content.

    And if I go to Google News, I go off to some site like Upper Michigan news and read an AP story. Maybe Google News should sniff my approximate location and present headlines that come from papers in my area.

    I'll bet anything that more news is read and passed along than ever before. It's just not on dead trees and soy ink.

    That said, I do get the LA Times every day, sucka that I am.

     

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    trollificus, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 4:56pm

    ps@petrea

    It takes a split second to determine: Why, no. They do NOT also scroll query origins. So...easily available evidence or groundless speculation. You chose the latter.

    You sure you're not actually a Times reporter??

     

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      Petréa Mitchell, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 9:12am

      Re: ps@petrea

      "It takes a split second to determine: Why, no. They do NOT also scroll query origins."

      Okay, I'll bite: how? The column doesn't say anything about whether or not there's other information on that screen, just that the columnist saw queries. IP addresses and suchlike would just be so much digital white noise to her.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 1:43pm

        Re: Re: ps@petrea

        The column doesn't say anything about whether or not there's other information on that screen, just that the columnist saw queries.

        It also doesn't say whether or not they're killing people but that's no excuse to speculate that perhaps they are.

         

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    mEscape, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 5:34pm

    News or information?

    So.... if I'm looking for say, the date the Constitution was signed, I'm supposed to search the NYTimes? Is this fight really about how people aren't using newspapers to do research anymore? If so, then Encyclopedia Britannica should be hollering and screaming. The NYtimes is a news service... and the only times I read from NYT is when google points me there.

    Oh, and as far as privacy issues goes, Google told the US Gov to stick it when asked to access user files and websearches in the name of hunting terrorism.

     

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    Charles W - T Consaul, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 5:47pm

    I guess quality of service has nothing to do with it then?

    Our local paper went smaller, started using thinner paper so the words bleed into each other from one side to the other, raised the prices at places like Walgreens (75 cents) but left it the same at most locations. (50 cents except Sundays)

    I used to love to use it as a proofreading tool for my students. It has more than enough mistakes on any given day, to keep a student busy and fulfilled. Our local paper also tends to get the news a day to three later than the internet, the local news, and even our local PBS stations! I used to read the news for depth and perspective, but we really have to go out of town for that anymore. There are three basic truths. 1. When a paper buys it's competition out, it is usually next. 2. You cannot convince a monopoly it has to try harder. If you want to stay in business, the least effective model is to alienate your customer base and go cheap! Going cheap is like waving the white flag of surrender.

    We can't get the Dallas paper locally, which is a bummer because the coupons were a lot better. Most of the out of town papers that get delivered to our little slice of heaven, don't include the coupons ( a major buying factor for us ) I genuinely enjoy a good paper and took a subscription service for almost fifteen years. When I had to buy Thursday through Sunday papers papers to get an extra Sunday paper, and the delivery person never seemed to get the extra paper in the box (or got the paper in the box but without the coupons) I decided that I could go up to the corner just as easily on the rare occasion that I still wanted one.

    It's all about service, reliability, quality, and respect. But like I said, you cannot convince a monopoly that it has to try harder. Just ask the Useless Postal service!

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 15th, 2009 @ 6:24pm

    The Papers Are Abusing Their Soapbox

    In terms of propaganda, and unfairly biasing public opinion, these journalists seem quite proficient. When will these journalists do the job they were actually TRAINED to do - that is, report both sides of an issue.

    Please enjoy the irony of them failing at their mission of fair, unbiased reporting - even as they complain that they are the only ones qualified to do so.

    What we are reading and seeing on talk shows is repeated editorializing against Google, but also articles, and "news" about the downfall of Journalism, and Google's supposed role. This is blatant propaganda. They are painting an ugly picture of Google, and posting it on every wall even though it is a Big Lie (is it Godwin's Law if I invoke the memory of Goebbels instead of Hitler or Nazis?) Controlling the press is a nice way of demonizing the opposition.

    OK, it's obvious they're not evil like the Nazis. They are just people who are threatened by the influx of some new competition in the arena. The new entrants have a different way of doing business, and a different culture. The papers are suffering some upsetting defeats, and forces outside their control have invoked some tough situations on them. They aren't comfortable with the rapid pace of change, and the tough economic times they are facing, and so they are picking scapegoats out of whatever group seems to be doing well in these troubled times. "Surely if they are doing well, it is at our expense!" But as I said, nothing like the Nazis...but a little like Goebbels.

    Really, though, control of the press is power. Power corrupts, and they are abusing that tool to the limit. Shame on them.

    In all of this self-aggrandizing whining, there is no rebuttal. The users of content aren't given our chance to sing the praises of the tool that helps us find gems in the Internet dogpile; but most lacking from the discussion is Google. In what edition of the NYT should I look for the space that the editors have offered to Google to state their case? I mean, since the journalists are so clearly unable to offer an unbiased PoV, shouldn't good journalism allow the opposition to reply?

    Google, for its part, remains surprisingly silent in this debate. I guess they are busy serving their customers, inventing new tools to improve their offerings, and giving them away for free with advertising to support the business. Bastards!

    I know a lot of great journalists, and I wish I could state my opinion without pissing them off. They will surely continue to find a market for their work, because it is of a quality that can compete in an open market. Techdirt writers, for example, can earn money without working for a paper. I can't tell each journalist how they will get paid, or what the model will be. But I can tell you that the journalists that are whining the loudest are fighting the times, the trends, the progress of technology, basic economics, and the will of the people. It won't be a pleasant decade for them.

     

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      Frank, May 14th, 2009 @ 11:44am

      Re: The Papers Are Abusing Their Soapbox

      If you want to take power from the behemoth search engines taking the newspapaer world over - Search on Dogpile.com!!!


      Too be honest - I'm a bigger fan of Dogpile than Google. They support charitable causes and work with all independent search providers to give a good mix of results.

      People are too lazy when it comes to search and want it all to be laid out for them in one engine. Problem is, Google, MSN and Yahoo all pick what shows up where.

      Research is meant to be RESEARCH - so look around for solid results.

      BTW - Dogpile.com just launched a new site called http://www.DoGreatGood.com - and their donating a portion of there revenue to Petfinder and the ASPCA.

      Great that theres a way we can help dog adoption programs at no cost.

       

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    Tom, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 7:30pm

    Google is indeed Evil

    Look, I'm not fan of the old guard media industry comprising newspapers and TV networks; however, they do make a good point. Google and many other Web pioneers have leveraged the content of these old guard fossils in building their own brands and, consequently, they should PAY for the privilege. Google claims that Fair Use exceptions in U.S. Copyright law give them the right to extract "snippets" of information; however, anyone with an IQ over 90 should realize that this is a grossly inaccurate distortion of Fair Use. Fair Use was intended for primarily non-commercial applications such as education. Google is a commercial enterprise. They're using the snippets to drive traffic to their search portal.

    And there's the rub. Google wants all information to be free for purely selfish reasons. They don't care who else gets hurt in the process. You may not like the Associated Press or New York Times or whoever. But it takes real money to pay the reporters who collect information that you see in the news. No, and before you make the argument, the blogosphere is NOT NEWS. It is primarily about COMMENTARY. The little reporting that does take place is generally done by geekish people who will only go as far as their computers will let them go. If you want to know about Dan Rather's fudging of the purported National Guard papers that claim that Bush went AWOL, the geek bloggers are all over the the scans in Photoshop or MSPaint. Because looking at data that somebody else collected is the easy part. But, if you want them to report the details of a random murder or city hall corruption or police brutality or what's happening in Iraq, that's not going to come from the geek bloggers. They don't leave the comfort of their computer coccoons. That's what real reporters do.

    Google is trying to leverage supposedly philanthropic language ("the news should be free") to force the actual providers of content to give them a free ride. I'm sorry, but that's wrong. That's evil. Google can't whine and complain that the media needs to be "more innovative" while they're stealing the media's content. They need to either go get the information themselves -- or pay the content providers.

    But, no, that's not what Google wants to do. They'll put a battalion of lawyers on the case to fight off any attempt to get them to pay their fair share. And, along the way, they'll try to leverage every possible source of information -- credit reports, Web browsing metrics, medical records, books, magazines, Web content -- under the guise that the "information should be free." That's what Dowd is complaining about. There's a LOT of information that should NEVER be free. But, with Google, the company is getting so large and so powerful that we are going to have a tough time corking the bottle once the genie has left it...

    Wake up, people. Google really is evil. They don't care about you or me. They're simply in it for the buck. Anybody who thinks they're looking out for the greater good is kidding themselves.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 9:12pm

      Re: Google is indeed Evil

      This is a pathetic argument. The snippets of 'Fair Use' information drive people TO THE SOURCE of the information, THROUGH the search portal.

      I would not arrive at a newspaper's site if not directed there to acquire information on a topic of interest THROUGH A SEARCH.

      It is beyond ignorant to argue that Google's use of content snippets is not boosting the possible revenue of the information source. You cannot have it both ways... if Google was posting the complete news article and not directing people to the source there could be an argument against that practice, but they are not doing that.

      Search hits increase page loads on content creators own websites. This is fact; to argue otherwise is ignorant.

       

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      Mike (profile), Apr 15th, 2009 @ 10:53pm

      Re: Google is indeed Evil

      Google and many other Web pioneers have leveraged the content of these old guard fossils in building their own brands and, consequently, they should PAY for the privilege

      Pay for the privilege of what? Of making it EASIER to find news sites? Of driving traffic to news sites? Of organizing the info in a way to make it more useful?

      Should mapmakers pay points of interest for sending them traffic? Because that appears to be your argument.

      Google claims that Fair Use exceptions in U.S. Copyright law give them the right to extract "snippets" of information; however, anyone with an IQ over 90 should realize that this is a grossly inaccurate distortion of Fair Use. Fair Use was intended for primarily non-commercial applications such as education. Google is a commercial enterprise. They're using the snippets to drive traffic to their search portal.

      I would think that anyone with an IQ over 90 would actually take the time to understand fair use before claiming what fair use "is intended for." Fair use can absolutely exist within commercial efforts and the courts have said exactly that.

      But... why talk about what's true, when you can talk about what you "feel"?

      Google wants all information to be free for purely selfish reasons.

      No, not for purely selfish reasons. Google knows that if it does a good job providing a service people want it will make money... but people will also get a service they want.

      You would prefer everyone be worse off but old business models stick around? Why?

      They don't care who else gets hurt in the process.

      That's like saying, Ford only builds cars for selfish reasons. They don't care if buggy whip makers get hurt in the process.

      Do you see how silly that sounds?

      But it takes real money to pay the reporters who collect information that you see in the news. No, and before you make the argument, the blogosphere is NOT NEWS.

      Um, you must be new here. Try learning a little before spewing. We've pointed to many different examples of journalism businesses that are making plenty of money. It's got nothing to do with Google and everything to do with good business models.

      Google is trying to leverage supposedly philanthropic language ("the news should be free") to force the actual providers of content to give them a free ride. I'm sorry, but that's wrong

      Wow. You are so wrong, it's almost funny. Google has never said the news should be free. It was the newspapers who put the news up for free. All Google did was figure out a good way TO SEND THEM MORE TRAFFIC.

      How can you possibly claim that Google is doing any damage at all to newspapers?

      Google can't whine and complain that the media needs to be "more innovative" while they're stealing the media's content.

      Uh. Please explain how sending traffic to newspaper websites, which they put up themselves, is "Stealing the media's content." Think carefully about the answer.

      Wake up, people. Google really is evil. They don't care about you or me. They're simply in it for the buck. Anybody who thinks they're looking out for the greater good is kidding themselves.

      Can you point to where, in this post, we said anything about Google being in it for the greater good. No one has said that. But that doesn't mean they're evil.

      Is the NY Times in it "for the greater good"? I can assure you, they're in it to make money. Just like every other for-profit company. That doesn't make them evil.

       

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      OneDisciple, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 4:13am

      Re: Google is indeed Evil

      Did anyone else read this "Look, I'm a fan of the old guard media industry comprising newspapers and TV networks"
      Seriously Tom, are you really trying to say that I have an IQ below 90 because I see Google point to the "old guard's" own web pages as fair use? Hell the "old guard should thank Google because without it almost no one would stumble to lame crap ridden web sites. This a classic case of biting the hand that is feeding you. The "old guard" offers content, Google brings people to that content, Google makes money off ads on their own page, the "old guard" actually gets eyes on its content. Who is losing here?

       

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      Matt, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 7:10am

      Re: Google is indeed Evil

      The problem is not that Google is sharing others' work; it is that these old guard institutions have not figured out how to adjust their business models to profit in this new environment.

      News investigation and critical analysis has vanished; as a result the value these "content creators" receive for the work produced has declined, as evidenced by the shrinking industry. When the industry returns to a business model that is based on content that is of value and a distribution scheme that enables it to recognize the value, the industry will be rewarded.

      There are a number of services that distribute information for fees to their customers. The reason they can do so is that their work is distinguished as being worthy of those fees. The fact that most newspapers can not command sufficient fees for the work that they produce is an indication of the lack of perceived value from the customers’ perspective.

      Google, AOL, MSN, etc. are not being paid for content; they are being paid for their delivery systems. These delivery systems assemble content efficiently and enable their customers to do the analysis and critical thinking that is sadly absent from the old guard’s reporting.

       

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      nasch, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 9:23am

      Re: Google is indeed Evil

      If you're correct, Tom, there is an extremely simple solution for the newspapers: tell Google not to index their site. Google will no longer "take" their content without compensation, Google users will go elsewhere for their news, and the newspaper can live (or die) in peace, knowing they're not getting ripped off.

      The fact that no newspapers (that I've heard of) are doing this is a tacit acknowledgment that they gain value from Google. They're not willing to give up Google's services, but they're also not willing to accept Google's price (zero) and want to dictate their own price. Fortunately, that is not how a market system operates. They can play ball, or take their ball and go home. I doubt very many people care which one they choose, and that is really where their problem lies.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:20pm

      Re: Google is indeed Evil

      Google is trying to leverage supposedly philanthropic language ("the news should be free") to force the actual providers of content to give them a free ride. I'm sorry, but that's wrong.

      How about the newspapers compensating the actual creators then? You know, the people who actually make the news. All the papers do is write it up after somebody else has created it. "I'm sorry, but that's wrong."

      So, before a newspaper can publish a news article about some event it should have to compensate everyone involved in creating the event first. For example, if the paper wants to publish an article about the gathering of a large crowd somewhere, they should first have to work out compensation deals with the organizers and everyone in the crowd. After all, those were the people who "created" the event in the first place.

      And if the story is about something that didn't involve any people, then it should be considered an "act of God". In that case there needs to be some umbrella organization that collects royalties from papers on these kinds of stories and distributes the money (what's left of it after taking their cut) to all the various churches. Kind of like other licensing organizations.

      Yep, it's about time that papers quit "stealing" from the news "creators" and started paying up. They shouldn't force the actual providers of content to give them a free ride.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:33pm

      Re: Google is indeed Evil

      What do you want to bet that this was written by someone from a newspaper? With this kind of lame-brain thinking, is it any wonder then that more and more people have little use for newspapers?

       

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    Dave Newton, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 8:08pm

    Geeks don't get it.

    This post is a classic case of gearhead with agenda trying to process humor and irony. Ms. Dowd has treated this subject with the solemnity it deserves, and you, Mr. Geek, didn't pick up on it. Admit it and lighten up alla youse.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:01pm

      Re: Geeks don't get it.

      Yeah, she was just kidding. Uh huh.

      You better check your meds.

       

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      Michael Costanza (profile), Apr 17th, 2009 @ 11:02am

      Re: Geeks don't get it.

      Dave - Funny how, after reading one post I've written, you're able to put me in a "classic case," "geek" box. Of course I saw all of the "humor and irony" Dowd was attempting in her article. My problem with her "humor and irony" is that she tries to be too clever (as she usually does), telling us with humor how scary Google is, so that it doesn't really sound like she's accusing Google of being evil -- and then using "Google is evil" as the backdrop for her argument that Google should be compensating the (by inference, not evil) newspapers. As I'm sure you know, that's what people do when their case is weak: diminish the opponent, while deemphasizing the facts of argument.

       

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    sam bolger, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 8:15pm

    dowd

    ohmygosh, you must be the most humorless dick ever! what an empty headed rant. dowd is brilliant and you're an enormous dolt. jeesh, why don't you just apply for the official post of google butt boy and make it official already. any criticism of google, no matter how minor, gets treated by your site with stalinist venom. you guys really are too much.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:26pm

      Re: dowd

      ohmygosh, you must be the most humorless dick ever! what an empty headed rant.

      Oh, little sammy. Michael Costanza was just kidding! What, you didn't get the joke? Well then, you must be the most humorless dick ever!

       

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    austin, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 8:46pm

    Honestly, are there privacy issues for a wall of search queries stripped of all information? How many people how many times a day must search for something like "Mattel" or "Rehoboth Beach"? (No idea what the queries actually were, but the latter is where I've vacationed in Delaware, and it's hardly a secret) Is it any different than overhearing snippets of conversation in a noisy restaurant? Plus, the Search Wall sounds damn cool.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 10:36pm

    I find the tone and tenor of this article concerning Ms. Dowd's comments to be downright arrogant and condescending; a cherry-picking, if you will, of snipets that present her comments in a deliberately unflattering light and wholly out of context.

    She does make some quite valid points that do deserve thoughtful consideration, something that is oftentimes missing in techdirt articles and the posted comments to the articles.

    The benefits of internet search engines is manifesly clear, though I would be remiss if I did not note that many of the results are merely a website repeating almost verbatim the contents of another website that in turn engages in the same activity. It is particularly frustrating to try and locate both sides of a story, only to discover that diversity of opinion is oftentimes missing in the repetive regurgiation of the same information.

    People decry the NYT, calling it a dinosaur, and yet its news reporting is far more varied than what can be found on subject specific websites, more professionally presented, and much more insightful...if only one takes the time to read it and not use much of the tripe appearing on internet sites that somehow believe a very short summary is more than sufficient to timely, comprehensive, and highly informative news. Candidly, I find most of these sites to provide little more than what I consider to be largely useless information.

    Now, I am not prepared to call Google a leach. I believe this would be unfair. However, it is not at all difficult to understand why so many of what I term "professional journalists" feel as they do. At the same time, however, I do believe that Google does serve up information to true leeches...sites that do little more than copy news articles for their own economic gain.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:56pm

      Re:

      I find the tone and tenor of this article concerning Ms. Dowd's comments to be downright arrogant and condescending; ... blah blah blah

      I find the tone and tenor of the rest of your comment to be downright arrogant and condescending.

      Now, I am not prepared to call Google a leach. I believe this would be unfair. However, it is not at all difficult to understand why so many of what I term "professional journalists" feel as they do. At the same time, however, I do believe that Google does serve up information to true leeches...sites that do little more than copy news articles for their own economic gain.

      It sounds to me like what you and your "professional journalists" buddies really want is to become censors to determine what sites Google can and can't link to. You just can't stand the thought of not being gatekeepers of some kind, can you?

      You and your kind are a good example of what's wrong with the newspaper industry. It's rotting from the inside out. Sometimes I wonder if we'd be better off just taking the lot of you and dumping you on some remote island. And then maybe nuking the whole thing.

       

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    Zaphod (profile), Apr 16th, 2009 @ 12:02am

    Papers & The Net

    Odd, my local newspaper, trib.com , was the first decent local ISP in town. Of course, this is when Howard Publications ran the show.

    Then Lee Publishing bought our paper, saw no future in being having an ISP that operated also as their crack in-house IT department... so that was the end of that relationship, the ISP was spun off into it's own outfit tribcsp.com ...

    And is now going gangbusters, meanwhile the paper that gave them birth, is shrinking both in content, quality, and physical size! The paper's website, instead of being informative and useful, for a time became what could best be described as an ad-whore. Now they have toned down the 75% adspace on their site, but put in a fairly LOUD (audio compression) video ad unit... just what I want when I am in the office, checking my news at lunch (NOT!).

    I bemoan the demise of Howard Publications, but as far as the ISP, which I am still with, I couldn't be happier.

    This just goes to show that certian people are prone to thinking emotionally and sensationally, and don't belong and can't compete in the realm of critcal thinking. So, as the balloon of hot air runs out, it makes the most noise and moves wildly. Expect alot more of this hyperbole and illogic, as we move out of the era of the printed word, and into the era of the photonic word.

    Keeping in mind what I have said, it should be fun for those who can rise above the noise, and watch this. The dying flails of a beast spoiled rotten by isolation, can be fun and educational, in the light of justice and fairness.

     

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      David Muir, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 10:54am

      Re: Papers & The Net

      Zaphod... great comment. But I don't think the executives who chose to spin off the ISP were thinking emotionally necessarily. They fell victim to the business adage: focus on your core business. While that may work when your business model is still relevant, your anecdote points out how a newspaper's "core business" (if interpreted as printing a paper) can be a poor thing to focus on. Read more at Yelvington's recent article: http://www.yelvington.com/looking-outside-new-core -- where he points out that even a NEW core is a dangerous thing to focus on.

       

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    Dan, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 1:11am

    Sorry, I only pay for value!

    I used to get a daily paper, but after 26 missed deliverys in a year I dropped it. Then I would pick up a Sunday paper at the grocery store until they decided to quit publishing a weekly TV schedule, that was the last thing of any value in the paper, now I have a bookmark for TitanTV to replace the last bit of value my paper provided. Just a bit of info: my paper got their TV schedules from TitanTV two full weeks before publication, you can guess how accurate they were. Now I read a half dozen blogs, daily, and news feeds from my ISP's front page. The print "news" is history by the time it hits the paper, carries an editors slant and often misses my interests entirely. So now I read current news for my interests, when I want, get multiple perspectives and occasionally use Google to search for more obscure subjects, all from the comfort of my office chair and at no cost. So Ms Doud there is your challenge, top that, don't just whine about it. Find a business model with some value and you will find customers. You lost the value of scarcity when your customers found the web.

     

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    Not me, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:43am

    recommend this to Murdoch

    HI Maureen,
    if you and Robert Murdoch feel so strongly about Google stealing your work, why don't you simply stop them from indexing your sites? I'm sure your competitors would love to have more traffic coming to them, and Google will continue to provide traffic to their websites.

    Good luck with that business model and see you in the unemployment lines.

     

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      David Muir, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 11:00am

      Re: recommend this to Murdoch

      I would think that a wildcard in the old robots.txt file would prevent ANY search engine from indexing the site. I saw a comment on /. recently that said the people would rather spend money on lawyers than pay a webmaster for the ten minutes of their time to modify the robots.txt file and keep out the search engines.

       

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    BBBBB, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 6:49am

    nobody want's free papers either

    In my town, the local paper is occasionally sponsored by the CAA for basketball, or NASCAR. The organization pays for a full distribution to every house, regardless of subscription status.

    Care to guess how many people just leave it in the driveway until trash day, and toss it on the can on their way to the curb?

    Pretty much all of us...

     

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    Bruce Kasanoff, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 6:57am

    One way to save newspapers

    Just published this article:
    http://nowpossible.com/blog1/2009/04/16/one-way-to-save-newspapers/

    Mass media is dead. Long live personal media. Basic elements of personalization strategy have the potential to save the newspaper industry, despite first-quarter revenue declines expected to be in the 20 to 30 percent range...

     

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      David Muir, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 11:18am

      Re: One way to save newspapers

      Nice article Bruce. I love the thought about modes and true personalization, with win-win targeting of high value readers. Your assertion that you would gladly pay for such a well-crafted, intelligently personalized news delivery system... unfortunately that's just you. Studies show that most people (especially teenagers) would NOT be willing to pay, even for an excellent service. However, with the intelligence you describe and the volume of high-quality, highly-qualified readers the site would garner, it could be 100 percent ad-supported.

       

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    Dave Small, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 7:33am

    Maureen Dowd is a far left extremist

    One of the major reasons that newspapers are failing is that they have lost credibility with their readers. So many of them (NY Times especially) appear to be little more than cheerleaders for the Democrats. Maureen Dowd is one of the best examples of that. Maureen should be pointing her finger at herself and not at Google.

     

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    anymouse, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 1:10pm

    AC hasn't read many actual newspapers apparently.....

    "The benefits of internet search engines is manifesly clear, though I would be remiss if I did not note that many of the results are merely a website repeating almost verbatim the contents of another website that in turn engages in the same activity. It is particularly frustrating to try and locate both sides of a story, only to discover that diversity of opinion is oftentimes missing in the repetive regurgiation of the same information." - this quote was regarding trying to find both sides of a story on the internet.

    When was the last time that anyone read a newspaper article that actually covered both sides of the story and including a 'diversity of opinion' that the authors didn't agree with? Most of the 'crap' (ie. Constantly Regurgitated Associated Press) I've read in newspapers lately includes multiple biases: the newspapers bias, the editors bias, and the writers bias at least (which can be interesting if they aren't all leaning the same way).

    I have a hard time understanding how one would think that a static printed article is somehow better at providing a 'diversity of opinion' than a topic search on the internet. Sure there's lots of crap out there on the internet to sort through, but most of the time you can find various points of view, from the right wing conservative GWB good old boy mentality, to the tinfoil wearing conspiracy theory touting nut jobs who continually spout their repetitive theories/lies hoping someone somewhere will believe them (where is Wierd Harold lately anyway? Just kidding, even he doesn't deserve that). He's a perfect example of the 'other point of view' in many of these articles (it's the view sponsored by the **AA's, but it is 'their' point of view, and without him reminding us of where they stand and why, we would all be much worse off).

     

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    JEDIDIAH, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 1:18pm

    Kill the Scoop.

    The problem here is that quality of journalism has
    gone down dramatically as bean counters have taken
    over newspapers. This has occurred concurrently
    with a revolution in communications technology.

    Nevermind "Google stealing their content". What they
    have to worry about is every gossip on the planet
    being empowered by Google Search making their content
    completely pointless.

    Old media's problem is not "search" or "piracy", it's
    the sudden influx of 300M+ new competitors.

     

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    The Italian Opinionist, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 1:59pm

    Newspapers' crisis

    Is the newspapers'crisis a consequence of economic ever worsening situation or can just be attributed to the new ways of circulating news offered by internet?
    Thanks to the diffusion of more and more fast connections and the wide spread of internet all web users can access instantly every kind of news and informations. And moreover this can be done for free, at least from the user’s point of view. The real market is behind the scenes: the huge and intricated world of advertising which is migrating from paper press to its web equivalent. The reader can get informations without paying anything and, at least apparently, the choice and availability of news is much greater. Moreover internet offers an interactive approach not available through standard newspaper.
    The advantages seem many….which are the drawbacks?
    One possible drawback could be found in the web organization itself maybe, intrinsic in all internet facilities. While reading an article the reader finds (almost stubs its toe on) a great amount of links one after the other. This is the web with its hypertext structure. It offers new hints and open one’s own point of view but can also divert from a complete, relaxing and focused reading.
    The new freedom offered by the web always depends on our own intelligent usage. For the standard reader the kind of fruition offered by the web is more difficult than the one offered earlier on the traditional papers. Maybe…
    The interactiveness may indicate more freedom of expression but also more ways to be deceived.
    Who is now the warrantor of the news?
    The users can’t make directly the questions to all degrees of people at all levels. This is the task of professional journalists and reporters and this is the reason why I hope a way of cohabitation of classical and new media will be reached.

     

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    Lenny, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 6:30pm

    Misses the point. . .

    Well, print media has always been critical of their nearest competitors. Before the internet, it was TV.
    What google is doing is making broadcast distribution of news, either print or electronic, obsolete. Yet, it does so slowly without effectively replacing it completely. Google's Schmidt frankly admits that they cannot replace the editorial function with clever algorithms. Packaging the news, or compiling a newslist, to target audiences is an art form. This is right brain stuff. Computer searches are left brain. What the Dowds of the world have not yet figured out is that the target audiences are no longer the general masses, but now niche groupings. Niche members now go to places like googlenews and package together for themselves the news they seek ala carte. Word and phrase searches, while having more robust results than scanning a newspaper, are still too stupid, and get by on their novelty. The signal to noise ratio is still far too high. One still has to sort through far too much extraneous, repetitive junk to get to the good stuff. So there is still a crying need for trusted editorial news packaging function. The fading mass media so far is failing to adapt to the new media, the internet and user, to pick up where the nerd gods of Google cannot tread. There is a need, and a growing vacuum waiting to be filled. (hint: the business model is niche publishing -- it works for me.)

     

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    Reg, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 11:56pm

    The Real Reasons

    Newspapers are dying because 1) they didn't go web quickly or effectively enough, and 2) because most of them have become liberal propaganda rags for the new global socialism movement (their "last gasp" was going all out to get Obama elected, no holds barred) - the good news for these liberal lavatory wipes? The dems will probably bail them out since they perceive they have partisan political value. Just wait and see.

     

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    Scott Moe, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 9:06am

    media crybabys

    The only time I see a newspaper's website is when Google or another aggregator links to them. If they don't want to be found just set robots.txt and no one will ever visit your site again.

    But that's not the problem they don't want to be ignored by Google they want to be paid by Google. There are a million sites that create content and would pay Google for the attention they give to the newspaper sites.

    You shouldn't get subsidized for falling behind. It's a new world and the giant news corporations are not going to control it.

     

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    No paper for me, Apr 22nd, 2009 @ 7:38pm

    Misplaced blame

    Others have noted that readers don't just take the headlines and snippets and learn anything about the day's news. When I want to see a story I click through to the paper itself, or the paper/TV site that actually is stealing your story, and read the whole thing there.

    I never click to the NYT, however, as I used to see a registration page. If other people see value in that brand, then more power to 'em - apparently that is not usually the case. I'd prefer if they'd just opt-out though. You won't be seen, all your hard earned news can be private. See if anybody notices. What they do instead is show up in Google and have a barrier to entry when you get there (if you're not the googlebot). So, who is really using whom?

    She makes one mention of the real thing that is burying newspapers: craigslist. No point in that. They're not stealing anything. You can't even attribute an evil motive to them. Who are we going to blame now?!

     

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