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No, Google Won't Buy the NYT. But Google.Org Could

By - January 23, 2008

I’ve argued in the past that we need new models for quality journalism, and that it’s the responsibility of companies like Google and Yahoo to help our culture get there. One might be to run our best journalistic enterprises as trusts, the way they do in the UK and elsewhere. There’s been a lot of speculation over the years (including a piece in RealClearMarkets yesterday) that Google might buy the Times. I don’t think that’s a good idea. But if Google.org did, and then ran the paper as a trust, well, that’d buy a lot of brand burnish amongst a very important set of influential folks, just as massive privacy and monopoly issues are rearing their heads…

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5 thoughts on “No, Google Won't Buy the NYT. But Google.Org Could

  1. konzern.info says:

    Now I’m confused: does Google have an organizational chart? Hmm… I checked the dropdown list on http://www.cjr.org/resources — but neither Google nor Google.ORG (nor youtube.COM nor blogger.COM [or whatever]) were listed. However, both the New York Times and also AOL/Time Warner are listed — and AFAIK Google already owns ca. 5% of AOL/Time Warner. The WSJ wasn’t listed — neither separately nor as part of NewsCorp.

    Hmmm… maybe this “resource” needs updating? Do you have some suggestions about other resources where I could educate myself about whether Google.ORG is or isn’t part of Google, Inc. (and/or how Google.ORG receives funds?)

    Thanks!

    :) nmw

  2. Sal Cangeloso says:

    I wasn’t impressed with the RealClear piece yesterday. Obviously some aspects of the deal make sense, but I don’t buy it. Google.org would be a better fit, but even that is a stretch.

    I don’t think:
    -
    Second, Google is embarking on an ambitious mobile platform. It is buying wireless spectrum and will soon introduce Google Mobile. In so doing, it is entering into an arena where the established players have hired (almost) every lobbyist and (almost) every law firm with expertise in telecommunications in Washington, DC and in virtually every state capital. Owning the New York Times would level that playing field in one fell swoop.
    -
    is in line with most people’s jounralistic ideals anyway.

    I miss the days when Google was not a content company…

  3. crossmedia.org says:

    Every company with website is a content company — including Google.

    It used to be that Google’s content (which used to be only the search algorithms) was better than the rest. Now Google is getting more into other things, like streaming video (YouTube.COM) and data mining personal data (GMail.COM) — and perhaps also Marketing & Advertising (though it’s still unclear whether the traditional agencies will cooperate with Google, Google.ORG or whatever — I certainly would think twice about hopping onto that bandwagon).

    I think the point is that Google lost track of it’s core competency — or maybe Steve Ballmer is right, maybe Google is indeed just a “one trick pony” (and now it is simply finding out that it is mediocre at best when attempting some other tricks).

    But in any case I agree that it seems strange to think that 15000 software engineers should be running the New York Times.

    :) nmw

  4. steve says:

    >> But if Google.org did, and then ran the paper as a trust, well, that’d buy a lot of brand burnish amongst a very important set of influential folks, just as massive privacy and monopoly issues are rearing their heads

    Google’s “brand” involves *not* being the genesis of most types of content; only objectively scouring it and linking to it. Buying an influential provider of oft-times left-leaning content would tarnish the brand.

    I read your post on “responsibilities of companies” and you seem to argue that the objective linker to content has a responsibility to take responsibility for the quality of that content. I don’t think this follows. It would change the entire nature of the Google brand — the company would not be the objective linker to content, and thus a different company all together. I think you might be just lamenting the death of “old school” journalism… I do too, but I don’t think journalism (good or otherwise) is dying, just changing.

    Also, by your logic, why stop @ journalism? While they’re at it maybe they can also take responsibility for everything else that ails society (yet is important to it’s well-being): health care, immigration… by your logic what’s the difference? All are important to the functioning of our society!

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