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. identicon
    anymouse, 16 Apr 2009 @ 1:10pm

    AC hasn't read many actual newspapers apparently.....

    "The benefits of internet search engines is manifesly clear, though I would be remiss if I did not note that many of the results are merely a website repeating almost verbatim the contents of another website that in turn engages in the same activity. It is particularly frustrating to try and locate both sides of a story, only to discover that diversity of opinion is oftentimes missing in the repetive regurgiation of the same information." - this quote was regarding trying to find both sides of a story on the internet.

    When was the last time that anyone read a newspaper article that actually covered both sides of the story and including a 'diversity of opinion' that the authors didn't agree with? Most of the 'crap' (ie. Constantly Regurgitated Associated Press) I've read in newspapers lately includes multiple biases: the newspapers bias, the editors bias, and the writers bias at least (which can be interesting if they aren't all leaning the same way).

    I have a hard time understanding how one would think that a static printed article is somehow better at providing a 'diversity of opinion' than a topic search on the internet. Sure there's lots of crap out there on the internet to sort through, but most of the time you can find various points of view, from the right wing conservative GWB good old boy mentality, to the tinfoil wearing conspiracy theory touting nut jobs who continually spout their repetitive theories/lies hoping someone somewhere will believe them (where is Wierd Harold lately anyway? Just kidding, even he doesn't deserve that). He's a perfect example of the 'other point of view' in many of these articles (it's the view sponsored by the **AA's, but it is 'their' point of view, and without him reminding us of where they stand and why, we would all be much worse off).

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