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
    Zaphod (profile), 16 Apr 2009 @ 12:02am

    Papers & The Net

    Odd, my local newspaper, trib.com , was the first decent local ISP in town. Of course, this is when Howard Publications ran the show.

    Then Lee Publishing bought our paper, saw no future in being having an ISP that operated also as their crack in-house IT department... so that was the end of that relationship, the ISP was spun off into it's own outfit tribcsp.com ...

    And is now going gangbusters, meanwhile the paper that gave them birth, is shrinking both in content, quality, and physical size! The paper's website, instead of being informative and useful, for a time became what could best be described as an ad-whore. Now they have toned down the 75% adspace on their site, but put in a fairly LOUD (audio compression) video ad unit... just what I want when I am in the office, checking my news at lunch (NOT!).

    I bemoan the demise of Howard Publications, but as far as the ISP, which I am still with, I couldn't be happier.

    This just goes to show that certian people are prone to thinking emotionally and sensationally, and don't belong and can't compete in the realm of critcal thinking. So, as the balloon of hot air runs out, it makes the most noise and moves wildly. Expect alot more of this hyperbole and illogic, as we move out of the era of the printed word, and into the era of the photonic word.

    Keeping in mind what I have said, it should be fun for those who can rise above the noise, and watch this. The dying flails of a beast spoiled rotten by isolation, can be fun and educational, in the light of justice and fairness.

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