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.

Filed Under: blame, journalism, maureen dowd, newspapers
Companies: google

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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 15 Apr 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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