It had seemed like perhaps The Guardian newspaper in the UK understood how the internet worked. After all, execs there had been saying that they hoped
the NYTimes would start charging, since it would just drive a lot more traffic their way. However, it seems like not everyone at The Guardian is on the same page. Similar to Feargal Sharkey's call demand that the UK government investigate Google
for not giving the recording industry money, The Guardian is now asking the UK government to investigate Google over its Google News product
, specifically claiming that Google gets too much benefit from its content. Of course, there's a simple solution to this: take your news off of Google News (or take it offline altogether). But The Guardian doesn't want to do that.
The reasoning is a bit convoluted, but, basically The Guardian says that since the online ad market is tough right now, it can't make enough money on the traffic that Google sends it. So stop accepting traffic from Google, right? No, it can't do that, because then competitors like the BBC would sweep up all of the traffic.
Is it just me, or does this reasoning suggest that The Guardian should be asking the government not to investigate Google News, but the BBC
for representing unfair competition? The Guardian's reasoning here is a bit tortured. It seems to be saying it can't compete with other sources due to Google News... even though those other sources have the exact same issue (getting traffic from Google News). It's only real complaint is that the BBC offers its content for free online -- and (though it doesn't appear to explicitly call this out), the BBC is publicly funded and doesn't have to focus on ad revenue like The Guardian does. So why isn't the complaint against the BBC instead of Google News?
The Guardian always struck me as a pretty good paper, but the logic here is hard to understand. If it doesn't want the traffic, fine, don't take it (though, most people recognize that would be a mistake). If the problem is that it can't monetize the content effectively, then that's a business model problem for The Guardian -- not Google News. Finally, if the problem is (as it appears) competition from the BBC, then take it up with the BBC or those who fund it, but don't misplace the blame on Google News.