USA Today May Be A Bit More Social, But It Doesn't Want Google To Know What The Riff Raff Have To Say

from the not-really-letting-them-in dept

USA Today has definitely been a lot more innovative than some other newspapers in trying to figure out how to thrive online. While other newspapers have tried to shrink their audience or shrink their relevance by putting up hurdles that take them out of the greater conversation, USA Today has stepped forward with experiments to embrace citizen journalism and embrace social media tools. None of these experiments are guaranteed to succeed, but it does seem like a good sign that the newspaper is trying and seeing what happens. However, it appears that while USA Today has embraced some aspects of breaking down the barrier between the newspapers and the people it serves, they're still pretty scared of having those people associated with USA Today's brand. The new social features are designed such that the information that people put into them is hidden from search engines like Google.

Matt Marshall over at VentureBeat contacted USA Today to find out why, and was basically told that the newspaper is worried that the general public will give its brand a bad name. A company representative told Marshall that the newspaper is worried "about what content is associated with the brand...." That seems silly however. The comments here on Techdirt are wide open and indexed by search engines -- and while there may be a few people who somehow think that a random commenter represents the views of Techdirt, most people recognize that they're the views of someone else, but posted here. The USA Today representative followed up his statement by saying: "We're still a newspaper." But, that's just the thing. They're no longer really a "newspaper," but a business that's delivering news and information in a useful way to a community of people. Devaluing that community by suggesting they're not worthy of being included in Google isn't a particularly friendly "welcome" gesture.

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  1. identicon
    Kilroy, 7 Mar 2007 @ 10:36am

    #3 and #6 I agree with. In addition, this site (techdirt) is designed as a conversation with some pretty advanced topics that are written as opinion and invite conversation both negative and positive.

    USA Today, however, will continue to do articles that are straight up journalism and will be marketed towards a much much wider audience, some of whose opinion may be, shall we say, very uninformed?

    USA Today is merely looking out for the QUALITY and INTEGRITY of their product.

    Imagine a scenario:

    A homosexual nightclub burns down in New York City. USA Today writes a whole article about it. Some readers post comments on topic and others use it as a platform to post about their hatred for homosexuals, thus spurning an all out flame war. Googlers do a search on some anti-homosexual rhetoric and up pops the USA Today article.

    Now, the article, along with USA Today has been associated with homophobia/hatred.

    This is an extreme example and chances are it may be moderated to the point that such an incident will never occur, but, at least it points out a very real concern.

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