SF Chronicle's Stages Of Google Grief Lead To Suggestion For Google To Just Buy Newspapers

from the follow-the-discussion dept

First off, before someone brings it up in the comments, I'll point out that the following post refers to the views of various columnists at the SF Chronicle, rather than any sort of discussion among those who have any real impact on the SF Chronicle's strategy. However, it is quite amusing to see the "stages of Google grief" showing up on the editorial pages of the struggling San Francisco newspaper who has had to rid itself of hundreds of reporters lately. Back in March, columnist David Lazarus (who apparently is no longer at the paper) vented his frustration about the internet by suggesting that newspapers get rid of free content entirely, with the goal of blocking off so-called moochers like Google News (despite the fact that, yes, Google News actually sends the Chronicle more readers). Then, in May came the bizarre suggestion on the SF Chron editorial pages that Google had a social or moral obligation to simply hand money over to newspapers. That got lots of people laughing, so now, yet another columnist at the Chron has adjusted the thinking to suggest that rather than just hand over money, Google should buy some newspapers, but then just leave them alone, noting that Google would probably make for a better newspaper boss than Rupert Murdoch. This seems to be sort of the full circle Google of thinking here. First, denial that Google is an opportunity to actually drive more business to newspapers. Then, anger at Google and a plan to block it off. Then there's the bargaining/begging phase where they suggest Google simply owes them money. Next comes depression (represented by all the layoffs) and finally acceptance that Google as a buyer could be the savior for newspapers.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: newspapers, search engines
Companies: google, sf chronicle

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Lucretious, 17 Aug 2007 @ 2:08am

    The ultra liberal Chronicle can't seem to exist in a free market economy and all that term implies.

    "Google is part of this whole Globilization MAAANNN"

    Socialist douchebags.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Mike F.M, 17 Aug 2007 @ 3:12am


    Seriously Mike.

    "Fist off"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Mike (profile), 17 Aug 2007 @ 3:32am

    Re: Spelling

    Oops. Fixed. Thanks for pointing it out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    GaBoy, 17 Aug 2007 @ 5:39am

    SF Chronicle's Problem

    It is interesting how newspapers want to have the best of both worlds. They want to sell subscriptions to offset the cost of the print and distribution of the paper product that advertisers pay to be included in. Then they want to make money on-line where printing costs are almost nil and distribution is done at very low cost (free?). Of course, they get upset when search engines make it easy to find specific articles so you don't have to read through the entire paper.

    Make up your mind newspapers. Remember, those same reporters you pay to provide articles could easily put their own articles on-line themselves with their own ads and bypass you completely. Content is worth something, but it may not be the price you put on it. Google has given us a whole new way of thinking about the price of advertising......

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    matt m, 17 Aug 2007 @ 6:44am

    Nought to do with Google

    Why do newspapers assume Google is somehow taking readers from them online? The real issue is that once they go online, they are competing against the whole world to report on a story.

    When they throw some dead trees into your driveway there is very little competition for getting advertising in front of people that they will actually pick up and look at. But I can read 90% of the national and world coverage they offer elsewhere- at places like CNN that have video of what they can only tell me about secondhand. However, the Chronicle is probably the best paper focusing on their region, better than any national news source, so they should focus on being the leaders for any story that pops up in that area, and when that story is of national or international interest, they should be the ones using news aggregators to get that content out there.

    What local newspapers need to do is become more local. How many national newspapers do we need? It's an economic inefficiency that is rightly being reduced. They are trying to be an aggregator and a local news source. That seems like a confused business model for a web site, even though it happens to make sense for dropping a physical paper at your door.

    Anyway, relating this Google is just because they are the easiest example to point to of people making money off of internet advertising, but I don't think a significant percentage of that comes from google news. There aren't even any ads on that page!! The real story here is that the content you need for a physical paper is not equivalent to what you need for a website.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    George Parsons, 17 Aug 2007 @ 7:03am

    Google is evil all around

    As a reality check...most local papers sell ads LOCALLY. That means they do not want everyone and their mother from all over the world looking at their site. Local advertisers pay rates appropriate for local ad run rates. So handling the extra bandwidth and traffic makes no sense for most local papers. Daily national papers are a different set, but those are only like 30 total. Also having more users that are guaranteed not to solicit from local advertisers actually DECREASES ad rates since the % of viewers to click throughs or sales is lower.

    Google, to be fair, has mooched or cheated everyone equally. They have their own mass transit system (why use and help grow public transit that ALREADY exists)? They have defaulted on their video service (you BOUGHT that video--oh that is Google speak for rent) -- here is some funny money to buy more crap from us. Oh healthcare industry has a problem -- just take MORE ads out with Google to state your case (remember that blog fiasco). Oh your Gmail account got hacked -- and that is our problem how exactly? And we are still in beta (forever).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Thomas, 17 Aug 2007 @ 7:18am

    Google is an Insane Asylum

    I know a few people that work for and with Google. The descriptions of how that place works inside are not pretty. Google may not realize that they are destroying a valuable source of content, but they may be too stupid to care.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Palmyra, 17 Aug 2007 @ 7:21am

    Re: Google is an Insane Asylum

    Care to fill us in or we just to take your word for it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Josh Bernoff, 17 Aug 2007 @ 7:29am

    I wrote this stages of grief report

    Several years ago I identified this cycle for all media companies, based on what had happened with music. The report is called "Music lessons." Here it is (unfortunately unless you're a Forrester subscriber you can only see the abstract).


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, 17 Aug 2007 @ 7:48am

    Re: Google is evil all around

    Permanent beta does allow some legal escapes, since they would be at least partially exempt from any obligations to monitor or filter content for child protection, counter-terrorism or general censorship purposes, which is both expensive and difficult, and has different requirements in different countries. This way, they simply say that their product is a beta and not ready for general use, and hope they get away without their product being banned.

    Anyway, Gmail does have a good security record.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Gary Ansorge, 17 Aug 2007 @ 8:43am

    Music and the web

    One thing to note: when it comes to recorded versions of music, depending on the complexity of the music and the particular ambiance of the concert venue, there is no way to retrieve the actual concert experience via a recording. No matter how good that recording is, it cannot recapture the live experience because of contrapuntal music delay and reflection peculiar to each venue. Even a live venue recording will not capture the exact experience of each individuals particular head size(which moderates the perception of music as it arrives at each ear in a unique and slightly delayed fashion) and the individual neural response to the environment. Which is why it has been truthfully said, "There's nothing like a Grateful Dead concert,,," and there never will be,,,

    Ergo, for really complex music there is still the money generating concert experience that will likely never go away.

    Gary 7

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Nick, 17 Aug 2007 @ 10:42am

    Re: Google is evil all around

    Google has a way for papers to avoid indexing through robots.txt. Some papers have already opted out of the news index.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Maychic.com/wealthology, 17 Aug 2007 @ 5:16pm

    SF Chronicle's Stages Of Google Grief

    When a company preaches "Don't Be Evil", so as to use it as a smokescreen to do evil with reckless abandon, ofcourse the end result would be that it would attract more evil to itself and would eventually be buried in evil. This company has no content of its own and yet makes billions every year from other peoples' contents, including the mass media. Someday soon, the world would wake up to stench of the evils by this cocky company and happily banish them into obscurity to Siberia where they belong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Rover, 17 Aug 2007 @ 10:36pm

    What about an alternative to Google News

    Here's what I don't understand - why don't newspapers band together and create a valid alternative to Google News? How hard can it be - picking the stories that are most mentioned among member publications? Goddamit - do it with a live human editor if you can't manage the algorithm!

    Or is it that the only thing that unites newspapers is their hatred for Google and they can't work out anything among themselves?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Aug 2007 @ 11:17pm

    Re: Google is evil all around

    If you don't like it being "beta", then don't use it...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)


Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.