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
    The Italian Opinionist, 16 Apr 2009 @ 1:59pm

    Newspapers' crisis

    Is the newspapers'crisis a consequence of economic ever worsening situation or can just be attributed to the new ways of circulating news offered by internet?
    Thanks to the diffusion of more and more fast connections and the wide spread of internet all web users can access instantly every kind of news and informations. And moreover this can be done for free, at least from the user’s point of view. The real market is behind the scenes: the huge and intricated world of advertising which is migrating from paper press to its web equivalent. The reader can get informations without paying anything and, at least apparently, the choice and availability of news is much greater. Moreover internet offers an interactive approach not available through standard newspaper.
    The advantages seem many….which are the drawbacks?
    One possible drawback could be found in the web organization itself maybe, intrinsic in all internet facilities. While reading an article the reader finds (almost stubs its toe on) a great amount of links one after the other. This is the web with its hypertext structure. It offers new hints and open one’s own point of view but can also divert from a complete, relaxing and focused reading.
    The new freedom offered by the web always depends on our own intelligent usage. For the standard reader the kind of fruition offered by the web is more difficult than the one offered earlier on the traditional papers. Maybe…
    The interactiveness may indicate more freedom of expression but also more ways to be deceived.
    Who is now the warrantor of the news?
    The users can’t make directly the questions to all degrees of people at all levels. This is the task of professional journalists and reporters and this is the reason why I hope a way of cohabitation of classical and new media will be reached.

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