Pop Attention Span

Trying to keep up with the zeitgeist

Does Microsoft hoping to buy away Google News users

Rupert Murdoch has complained in the past about Google “stealing” News Corp’s content in public before and Murdoch’s online detractors have typically had two reactions — 1) “You’ve heard of the concept of ‘Fair Use’ right?” and 2) “You know Google makes it easy for you to block them from finding your articles, you could stop this theft pretty quickly.

News Corp might have found a new way to monetize their content, as the Financial Times (a Murdoch paper) is reporting that Microsoft is negotiating with News Corp to block its content from Google. Presumably, Microsoft is hoping to attract web surfers to use its search engine Bing by spending money to make Google’s searches make fewer hits.

Oliver Willis is right when he says a lot of people will like Google better if it were free of News Corp content. I know I would be happier if I could have gone through the past two seasons of Doctor Who without seeing The Sun report again and again that Tennant and/or Davis was about to quit the show until they finally did. (Keep saying it’s about to happen, eventually you’ll be right.)

But, if Microsoft goes through with the deal, it’ll put out a very bad message. Microsoft generally has a reputation for succeeding more by knowing how to use its resources to make up for what their product lacks in quality. After initially trying to pitch Bing as a better search engine, Microsoft would be spending money to try to make its top competitor worse. The best case scenario for Bing is new users who aren’t there because they like the service or feel loyal to it, but a feeling that Microsoft took away their alternative options. (Which is how many people feel about other Microsoft offerings.)

And, in the end, here’s the thing newspapers have to understand about the internet — somebody will always be willing to put the news out there for free because they’re willing to accept less or a profit (or, rather, a business model doesn’t involve as many expensive upper management), even if its a blogger summarizing what was just reported on the news. More likely, however, it’ll be sites that mix advocacy with original reporting like Talking Points Memo or Fire Dog Lake. Newspapers that offer something unique like the Wall Street Journal can put their content behind a subscriber wall but the papers that spent the last couple decades by cutting corners and filling their pages with the wire articles found in nearly every other paper are paying the price for not offering their readers much value.


November 23, 2009 - Posted by | web

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