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Google Is Commercializing Google News. Sh*tstorm to Follow?

By - February 26, 2009

Trust me on this one, this one will kick up some dust. Am on an airplane, will write more soon.

Here’s the Google post announcing the move….nothing at all mentioned about sharing revenues with the news orgs who provide Google News its content. I cannot believe that this issue was not proactively dealt with. It must have been. Right? Readers in the news industry, speak up – any insight?

My prior coverage of this is here and here among many other places.


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14 thoughts on “Google Is Commercializing Google News. Sh*tstorm to Follow?

  1. Dan says:

    This is straight out of the EPIC 2014 script.

  2. Totally agree with you John, Google are twisting the knife here. Surely the news orgs will go ape if they’re not getting a cut.

  3. There may be some fear in digital newsrooms today, but as you called in prior posts, this was on the horizon.

    Right now, Google News is still a switchboard. They monetize search results; they show a buffet of articles, using our titles and snippets. If we stand out, we get the traffic, which we can monetize.

    At the moment, Google News is a small (though significant) traffic contributor to most news sites. The last time I checked a panel tool, it was about 5% of nytimes.com visits, for example. Google News itself is a relatively small aggregator in the news space.

    Of course, that could change very quickly if they start hosting content. But they’ll have the same decisions to make as every other content aggregator, and that will mean having to reach agreements with content providers in order to host and monetize their content. Snippets and excerpts are one thing. Full articles is another.

    Anyone can get wire content — if they pay for it. Likewise, media organizations are extending the way they distribute content. NPR has an open API and our content is free to use (with some caveats) for non-commercial users. Other organizations are cutting content deals that are monetized along fees or revenue sharing deals.

    The recent Gatehouse/Boston Globe settlement is still shaking out, but signs point to a precedent that aggregators cannot use copyrighted content without permission http://www.boston.com/business/ticker/2009/01/nyt_gatehouse_r.html . In other words, aggregators who want to host proprietary content are going to have to structure some sort of deals just the way they have to pay for wire content.

    I wish Google News success. Competition and innovation can hurt our traditional models, but I believe if media companies embrace it (while protecting their copyrights) all newcomers are another potential source for distribution.

    Disclosure: I work with Search at NPR and have in the past spoken with Josh Cohen.

  4. Ken Chan says:

    Good for Google. Instead of getting all bent out of shape, the news media should be praying that Google succeeds and finds a way to monetize the news. Then, the rest of the news media can jump aboard the Google bandwagon cause they haven’t found a way to make money online by themselves.

  5. Mike Bunnell says:

    I think they are just taking advantage of the current situation newspapers are in; they are struggling for their lives right now and can’t really afford a costly legal battle with Google.

  6. Ian Hamilton says:

    Very interesting development. I read your other posts on the subject and hadn’t realized the Associated Press was being paid for its content on Google.

    I think that’s important because a titanic news operation like the Associated Press would be one of the few organizations in a position to demand a cut of AdSense. Unless I’m misunderstanding the way Google News works, news organizations have the option of denying Google’s crawlers access to their news. Individually, news organizations have no leverage to demand a cut of revenue generated by their content.

    I’ve wondered what would happen if 90% of news organizations disallowed Google crawler access overnight – call it the Google Strike – and demanded a cut of AdSense.

    It’d be a hail mary. But the risk to possible reward might be there.

  7. Matt Terenzio says:

    No one is forced to participate in Google News.

    Just opt out.

    Or are we going to start regulating what people and companies can do on their own sites?

    Unless there is some copyright infringement here, god bless them.

  8. Matt Terenzio says:

    Furthermore,

    What does this have to do with Newspaper economic troubles, really?

    The print industry is dwindling down. They won’t accept that online revenue will not save their PRINT products.

    But most local newspapers already make enough online to staff five or six people.

    Why is that not good enough?

    It’s enough for the size of most popular blogs.

  9. Rob says:

    If you dont want to be included in Google News then get yourself removed from the list.

    Surely, the knowledge that Google potentially has of their businesses is more worrying for publishers.

  10. JG says:

    Last November, we announced plans to begin experimenting with ads on a number of Google properties, including news query refinements within Google search.

    Uh, since at least January I’ve been seeing ads next to my Google News initial queries, and not just next to my query refinements.

    Why can Google never just tell a straight story?

  11. Acharya says:

    And why should they not? For some time now google has been providing most of these providers with gazillions of clicks. I do not think that they should mind anything that benefits google itself for according to most of your philosophy of thinking in the long run, the content providers are continuing to benefit from google and anything good for it is good for them too.

  12. Jere says:

    How is this really any different than serving ads along side web search results – they don’t own or pay for any of the content they index anywhere.

    I agree – sharing revenue with the content providers is a good idea – equally good for web results, whether or not it would be realistic – but I don’t see the big difference.

  13. Robb Lewis says:

    Maybe I’m not seeing something all of you are but when I search the news I see the teasers to news stories but not the full article (both in web and google reader) and the links take me to the site with the story. Are you guys seeing the full story on Google? If so that’s a big news story. But if not then so what. In fact I’m frankly surprised they didn’t already do this.

    -Robb
    twitter: robblewis

  14. dewey says:

    Just as Hearst has decided to cut back on free content, they will opt out of the Google feudal system. This recession will be very rough on Google.