For the last couple weeks, CEO of News Corp. Rupert Murdoch has been at odds publicly with news aggregator websites “that collect and link to news content from other providers” (WSJ). According to Brent Kendall and Thomas Catan at the WSJ, Murdoch claims that these sites — he mainly means Google, but doesn’t actually name the search giant — are “reusing news articles published by others without bearing the costs.”
However, as Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Huffington Post editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington and other free search proponents argue, search aggregators actually help (not hurt) online news publishers like Fox News and WSJ (both owned by Murdoch’s News Corp.), becuase they help drive traffic to their sites. And traffic levels have a direct impact on ad revenues.
In his WSJ op-ed piece How Google Can Help Newspapers, Schmidt writes:
Google is a great source of promotion. We send online news publishers a billion clicks a month from Google News and more than three billion extra visits from our other services, such as Web Search and iGoogle. That is 100,000 opportunities a minute to win loyal readers and generate revenue—for free.
The issue Mudoch and others have is not necessarily that these news sharing sites exist; it’s that they distribute articles that aren’t always free. If a site wants to be indexed at all by Google, it has to allow Google’s crawlers to index every page within it. But for publishers who want to charge for content, there’s a challenge. As posted on the Google News blog: “Our crawlers can’t fill out a registration or payment form to see what’s behind a site’s paywall, but they need access to the information in order to index it.”
So, is Google posting all content on any news site they index, no matter what, even if it’s behind a registration form or paywall? Well, not exactly. In the same announcement on the Google News Blog, google offers publishers two solutions to this issue: a program called First Click Free, as well as the option to display “preview pages” of for-pay articles. You can learn about both these options here.
While this debate is far from over, as David Carr of the NYTimes’ Media Decoder blog reports, Google has appeared willing to compromise. Consequently, “the days when surfers could roam the Web in the belief that any and all information was theirs for the clicking may be numbered.”
SOURCE: “FTC to Examine Possible Support of News Organizations ” 12/02/09
SOURCE: “How Google Can Help Newspapers” 12/01/09
SOURCE: “Google and paid content” 12/01/09
photo courtesy of TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³, used under its Creative Commons license
David Reich is co-founder and CEO of SixEstate, blending a background in traditional marketing and public relations with over 5 years of experience managing hundreds of online marketing campaigns for all kinds of organizations — from small businesses and nonprofits to public companies. David is responsible for keeping SixEstate and its clients at the forefront of the rapidly evolving search and content marketing landscape. Connect with David on Twitter, Google+ or via email.