from the seriously-delusional dept
In fact, the whole idea that Google News is unfair for sending traffic is undermined by the other complaint from the newspapers: that Google doesn't reveal how it ranks stories:
Because Google does not disclose the criteria for ranking news articles or search results, he said, newspapers are unable to hone their content to try to earn more revenue from online advertising.Of course, that's silly. First, plenty of people have figured out how to optimize for Google -- there's a whole industry called SEO that does that. That doesn't mean that Google needs to reveal the secret sauce. But the best response to the demand for Google to reveal how it ranks stories comes from Danny Sullivan, who turns the story around, and wonders how newspaper would feel in the other direction:
No newspaper editor of any quality would allow an external interest to walk into their newsroom and demand to know exactly how to guarantee a front page article about whatever they want. But that's what the Italian papers seem to desire. Google has an editorial process for producing rankings, one that's done using automation -- but the papers seem to want to bypass those editorial decisions.Exactly. The newspapers are basically demanding that their stories get ranked higher, but how would newspaper editors feel about the subjects of stories in the paper demanding that their stories be on the front page. After all, being on the front page would get the subject of a story more attention, and the newspaper isn't paying those subjects -- so the newspaper is "getting all the value." -- at least according to newspaper logic.
Sullivan also does a good job highlighting how useless it would be if the newspapers did get the details on how Google ranks stuff, because then everyone would just start writing stories to get to the top of the list, and any "advantage" would be lost. Separate from that, shouldn't we be just a bit troubled to find out that the newspapers are interested in figuring out how to write stories that top Google, rather than writing stories to better inform the populace?