×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Newspapers Face the Prisoner's Dilemma With Google

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the you-sneak-up-behind-the-guard-see dept.

The Media 290

Hugh Pickens writes "Nicholas Carr has an interesting analysis of Rupert Murdoch's threat to de-list News Corp's stories from Google and Microsoft's eager offer to make Bing Murdoch's exclusive search engine for its content. Carr writes that newspapers are caught in a classic Prisoner's Dilemma with Google because Google's search engine 'prevents them from making decent money online — by massively fragmenting traffic, by undermining brand power, and by turning news stories into fungible commodities.' If any single newspaper opts out of Google, their competitors will pick up the traffic they lose. There is only one way that newspapers can break out of the prison — if a critical mass of newspapers opt out of Google's search engine simultaneously, they would suddenly gain substantial market power. Murdoch may have been signaling to other newspapers that 'we'll opt out if you'll opt out,' positioning himself as the would-be ringleader of a massive jailbreak, without actually risking a jailbreak himself. There are signs that Murdoch's signal is working, with reports that the publishers of the Denver Post and the Dallas Morning News are now also considering blocking Google. In the meantime, Steve Ballmer is more than happy to play along with Murdoch because although a deal with News Corps would reduce the basic profitability of Microsoft's search business, it would inflict far more damage on Google than on Microsoft."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

290 comments

What? (4, Insightful)

haderytn (1232484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245252)

What is a newspaper?

Re:What? (1)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245304)

You joke, however, contrary to what you read on here, the print media industry is thriving. A lot of people prefer the newspaper format and brick-and-mortar companies prefer brick-and-mortar advertising (think supermarket chains et al., they have no reason to advertise on the internet) so they shell out thousands in advertising. As a geek working in the industry, I wish Rupert would throw himself under a bus as he's giving us a bad name.

Re:What? (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245394)

Yeah, and if you look at the demographics who like newspapers they are almost overwhelmingly older. Talk to a 20 something and ask them if they read the newspaper, most will just laugh at you. In about 80 years, just about anyone who likes reading a newspaper now will be dead. Mix that with the fact that even older people who like newspapers are finding out about the internet and getting more news from there means an accelerated death for print. Yeah, print advertising will probably stick around but the newspapers simply aren't the place to get information for national or world news anymore. Local newspapers in small towns will stick around for longer than national newspapers but there just needs to be a few good blogs about the area and soon the newspaper has free competition.

Re:What? (1)

otter42 (190544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245622)

Yeah, and if you look at the demographics who like newspapers they are almost overwhelmingly older. Talk to a 20 something and ask them if they read the newspaper, most will just laugh at you.

If you asked someone that 10 years ago, it was the same response. And they, for sure, weren't getting their news online.

Not saying you're wrong, just that your example could be better chosen.

Re:What? (1)

nanoflower (1077145) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245810)

I think the same could have been said 50 years ago or even 100 years ago. Most of the population isn't that interested in reading that much whether it be a newspaper or a book. The fact that the information is even easier to get now (on the computer) doesn't seem to be changing things as the general populace seems to be as clueless as ever. So newspapers will slowly fade away due to better mechanisms becoming available like online distribution where it's easier to update stories, or one day soon we may see electronic papers where you get a sheet of a plastic like material that displays the stories and is easily updated for a small fee. Something that combines the easy access to the news with the feel of holding the paper in your hand.

Re:What? (2, Insightful)

c_forq (924234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245872)

I don't think this is true. I am a twenty something, and I remember that 10 years ago most people I went to school with didn't have the internet. 14 years ago a vast majority of my class only used the internet from school, and school and the library were their only option. If you look at my school today I don't think there is a single household without internet, and a vast majority have high speed connections. Where I work I know of 3 people in the warehouse who didn't have an internet connection until this year and only got one for their kids but now are using it all the time themselves. The penetration rate is WAY higher than it was 10 years ago.

Re:What? (2, Interesting)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245814)

One of the fastest growing Dutch news papers is directly aimed at 25-35 year old men who get most of their news online. I love it. It's a format that works well.

Re:What? (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245886)

One of the fastest growing Dutch news papers is directly aimed at 25-35 year old men who get most of their news online. I love it. It's a format that works well.

I see. So. I think the general discussion is about newspapers. Not the thinly disguised escort service fliers that you pick up in most cities.

Re:What? (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245532)

I gotta tell you, the supermarket chain I frequent, Giant Eagle, is quite comfortable with presenting their weekly sale information in an electronic format, along with a variety of other services.

Re:What? (4, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245660)

Newspapers have several issues to deal with.
1. Craigslist is killing them. Classified ads had to be a huge income stream. I know that just a single help wanted ad in my market was well over $100 and we are not a big market.
2. Costs. They are expensive to print and deliver.
I have not gotten the paper in years. At best they are worth it for the coupons but a web based or even better yet a mobile based way to get them would be much better. Plus my local supermarkets are now using direct mail to send those to me.
I hate the format of a paper. It is too big to be easy to read. The pages are huge and most of it I just don't care about.
The one thing I have to say that I miss is local news but I get that from a website now.
Now here is what I wonder. How much news comes through Google? I tend to just go to CNN.com or tcpalm.com to get my news. I almost never search for news. I doubt that I will head to Bing anytime soon so yes I think this is all going to be a disaster. Will Microsoft be willing to pay everybody to jump to Bing? And will a few hold outs make some big money being the news source on Google and also being on Bing?
Seems to me that is the risk they news services that do this run.

Re:What? (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245742)

Craigslist is killing them.

To be precise, their costs are killing them, because they can't compete with superior alternatives like Craigslist and other online advertising services.

-jcr

Re:What? (2, Interesting)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245754)

The company I work for monitors and analysis the print ads that are published around the US. Most mid and large chains (Grocery, Drug, Mass) now publish their weekly circular online. Most also email the ads to customers or send notices when the website is updated.

Our company is making a significant investment in tracking these online ads and not for nothing.

P.S. If you shop at a large grocery chain its about 1 million dollars that changes hands each week for the items in ad.

Re:What? (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245340)

A newspaper is something that you pick up from the seat next to you on the subway so you can pass the time by doing the crossword.

Re:What? (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245452)

A newspaper is fire-lighters in sheet form.
Usually the paper is printed with troll articles, flame-bait articles and advertising.

Re:What? (1)

AniVisual (1373773) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245514)

A newspaper is several sheets of paper that have news printed on them. Compare television news, Google news, blogs and CMSs that provide news.

Re:What? (1)

fullgandoo (1188759) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245592)

What is a Google? How is it related to news?

But seriously, I've never used Google to search for news. I have a list of all my favorite newspapers (and news sites) bookmarked in my browser. Is this not what most people do? I would expect this to be the default behavior if you wanted to move from paper based newspapers to Internet based.

Re:What?Christmas gift,shoes,handbags ,ect.. (0, Offtopic)

coolforsale1214 (1688170) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245664)

http://www.coolforsale.com/ [coolforsale.com] Dear ladies and gentlemen Hello, In order to meet Christmas, Site launched Christmas spree, welcome new and old customers come to participate in the there are unexpected surprises, look forward to your arrival. Only this site have this treatmentOur goal is "Best quality, Best reputation , Best services". Your satisfaction is our main pursue. You can find the best products from us, meeting your different needs. Ladies and Gentlemen weicome to my coolforsale.com.Here,there are the most fashion products . Pass by but don't miss it.Select your favorite clothing! Welcome to come next time ! Thank you! http://www.coolforsale.com/productlist.asp?id=s76 [coolforsale.com] (Tracksuit w) ugg boot,POLO hoody,Jacket, Air jordan(1-24)shoes $33 Nike shox(R4,NZ,OZ,TL1,TL2,TL3) $35 Handbags(Coach lv fendi d&g) $35 Tshirts (Polo ,ed hardy,lacoste) $16 free shipping Thanks!!! Advance wish you a merry Christmas.

Re:What? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245706)

What is a newspaper?

It's an outdated information distribution technology, which is in its death throes as we speak. Collections of articles were printed on paper, and distributed from printing plants to a network of retail outlets, and also to children (paperboys) who would deliver them to customers' homes.

-jcr

Re:What? (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245836)

And why would I go buy one, if Google isn't listing them anymore? Are they going to be able to de-list ALL news stories, planet-wide?

Weren't those newspaper-guys the ones that used to complain how "we don't get it" and "our subscribers are too urbane to understand our coverage" and all that?

Let'em burn.

Re:What? (1)

remmelt (837671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245876)

...while Google's search engine 'prevents them from making decent money online... There is only one way that newspapers can break out of the prison...

Or they could find other ways to make money with news online in this new century. Looking at the Netherlands, nu.nl (Dutch online newspaper, started out as a news aggregator, employs its own journalists now) is doing fine. Bailing out of Google is bad for traffic, even if Bing would start to see more users. If there's something that newspapers do not want, it's less traffic to their sites. So, if they're not stupid, they'd find some other way to make money and just stay listed in the Google index (and with Bing and all the others).

That's a big "if", though.

I Don't See the Comparison, More Like MLB Strike (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245262)

When it comes to Google and other aggregators, newspapers face a sort of prisoners' dilemma. If one of them escapes, their competitors will pick up the traffic they lose. But if all of them stay, none of them will ever get enough traffic to make sufficient money. So they all stay in the prison, occasionally yelling insults at their jailer through the bars on the door.

So ... the original prisoner's dilemma [wikipedia.org] (if I recally my AI coursework) was basically comes down to two or more prisoner's arrested as suspects in a crime. They are immediately separated into different interrogation rooms. The police officers use every trick they can to get any of the prisoners to lay claim to committing the crime and receive a plea bargain if they testify against the other suspects. If no one caves, then everyone walks. Now, the important thing to note here is that if one suspect caves and the other n-1 suspects don't, then that suspect receives a sub-optimal reward of a lighter sentence while those that did not own up to the crime receive very harsh penalties. And so you have a dilemma ... did one of your crew rat you out already? Should you take the guaranteed three months in prison versus a potential ten years?

The important thing is that one rogue actor could ruin it for everyone.

So the analogy seems to imply that newspapers have taken a suboptimal goal (being in jail) ... but the most important problem is that no one knows if the current situation is a suboptimal goal or optimal goal. And no one's going to find out until they leave Google. If a single newspaper leaves Google, they ruin it for themselves (unlike the prisoner's dilemma) and no one else. In fact, the others might even benefit from that.

What this is a closer analogy to is the MLB strike you may (or may not care about) remember. Basically the baseball players didn't think they were making enough bank so they went on strike. If anyone of them said, "Screw it, I'm leaving the league, I'm going to literally take my bat and ball and go elsewhere," then they would have been broke. But the whole league went on strike, they could have formed a new league, they could have went to a different league, they could have entered talks with the European league to open leagues in the US, etc.

The newspapers should continue to court Microsoft and play the two search leaders off against each other. Also, I'm no robots.txt expert but I think there is a disallow from certain domains syntax they can use to block Google, Microsoft or white list one of the two. Another strategy might be to go on strike and have all newspapers request to be removed from Google for one week. Let the system break down and then enter negotiations with the giant.

One thing is pretty clear, they must unionize/unify and act as a single entity in either leaving or negotiating. And I don't really see that happening. They might be able to negotiate between Microsoft and Google on a case by case basis but Google is still too much larger than Bing to do that.

Re:I Don't See the Comparison, More Like MLB Strik (5, Interesting)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245320)

I don't think Google will care in the slightest if all the newspapers removed themselves from its index. There are still plenty of online only news sites, specialist media sites and so on that Google can point to. If people know they want to read one of Rupert Murdoch's offerings, they would go there direct, not via Google, and most Google customers aren't going to go to Yahoo or Bing to compare the search results they get.

never happen (5, Insightful)

Weezul (52464) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245344)

Will the BBC join? No! So international news is hopeless. Do people care about local news?

What if google endowed a nonprofit news organization? Or just bought wikinews the rights to use AP feeds?

Re:never happen (1)

saintsfan (1171797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245774)

Hard to say what companies will do when money is on the line, although I'd like to believe they wouldn't also.

I would think Google cares whether an industry is not coming up in their search results. That said, there surely is a way to get standard feeds like you said.

People around here and probably across the US care about local news A LOT. Old saying "all new is local". However, I don't think searching Google is the way for people to get a lot of this local news. I think they go to their city's news website and read the headlines or favorite sections. I think the contradiction is when there is breaking news, and people search key terms. But then again, most breaking news can be found by going directly to the front page of these websites. That said, it seems like a moot point. Besides, Bing can't pay everyone. On a side note, I've seen people search their wesite instead of using the address bar for whatever reason, but the top domain will still come up.

Google already licenses the AP feeds (5, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245808)

Google already licenses the AP feeds. Click any AP story and you go to the Google-hosted AP text.

This is why this scheme is NEVER going to work. Google already licenses AP, which creates 75% of the content in all these papers anyway. Also there are many major international players, like the NPR and BBC and CBC, that will never opt out of Google, as they are not-for-profits in the first place.

The end result is everyone will get their local news from NPR/CBC/BBC, and all these newspapers will just go under FASTER.

No one will pay for news online. Give it up.

Re:never happen (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245890)

Google News already pays the Associated Press for the right to post AP news stories on their (Google's) site. (Example picked at random: Climate debate heats up Caribbean summit http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hMngtnyb69v5U96jDSem6I5cT0vwD9C7TQPO0 [google.com] ) Of course, those articles appear *ON* Google.com instead of simply being a title/blurb pointing to another website. It really sounds whiny for Murdoch (and other newspaper execs) to say "Google is sending us millions of people but we don't know how to make money off those people so we want Google to stop sending us those people!"

They're too big (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245458)

If the biggest media players cooperate like this, they will be breaking anti-collution, anti-competition or somesuch laws.

They have simply become too big to be afforded that kind of flexibility from society.

IANAL And I don't pretend to be on /. ;-)

Re:I Don't See the Comparison, More Like MLB Strik (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245534)

No, you completely misstated the prisoner's dilemma, which is impressive, given you linked to a Wikipedia article for it which gets it right. Please go read that article and try again.

The ac tual Prisoners Dilemma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245626)

Not quite...

In the prisoner's dilemma both prisoners are facing short prison sentences for a minor crime. Each is offered a deal to go free for ratting the other out for a much more serious crime. However if both rat on each other, both go to prison for the serious crime but with a reduced sentence.

For example:
If neither talks, both get 1 year in prison.
If one rats on the other, the rat goes free, while the other gets 20 years in prison.
If both rat on each other, both get 10 years.

The dilemma is in determining the optimal answer. When iterated there is a clear answer that you should never talk because you will be punished for it. But when applied only to a single event the answer is unclear.

Still, as the parent points out, I fail to see how the situation described is in any way similar to the prisoner's dilemma. Just a bad headline by someone trying too hard to sound smart.

Re:I Don't See the Comparison, More Like MLB Strik (3, Informative)

jDeepbeep (913892) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245686)

Also, I'm no robots.txt expert but I think there is a disallow from certain domains syntax they can use to block Google, Microsoft or white list one of the two.

To block Google from all site pages:
User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /


To block Google indexing a certain page (exchange brackets for > / <):
[meta name="googlebot" content="noindex"]

To be less specific in the user-agent line of robots.txt:
User-agent: *

Re:I Don't See the Comparison, More Like MLB Strik (3, Insightful)

SmilingBoy (686281) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245824)

You forgot about the most important aspect of the prisoner's dilemma: Whatever the others do, you are better off to confess. Typically, the dilemma is presented with two prisoners: - If both keep silent -> both get one year jail based on weak evidence - If both confess -> both get three years jail - If one confesses, and the other keeps silent -> the one that confesses walks out free, the other one gets ten years jail Now what do you do if you are the prisoner. There are two possibilities what the other one has done: - If the other one has kept silent, you will get one year jail if you also keep silent, and walk out free if you confess -> Better to confess in this case - If the other one has confessed, you will get ten years jail if you keep silent, and three years if you confess -> Better to confess in this case So irrespective of what the other one is doing, you are better off confessing. So the only rational choice is to confess. Since both prisoners face the same incentives, both will confess and both get three years jail. There is no way for them to reach the clearly superior outcome of only one year of jail for both of them.

Re:I Don't See the Comparison, More Like MLB Strik (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245848)

Wouldn't it be easy for Google or anyone else to bypass a block and use a third party to mine that data? It seems to me that as long as their data is open to one it will sort of remain open to all.

Re:I Don't See the Comparison, More Like MLB Strik (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245878)

In the prisoner's dilemma [wikipedia.org] it is always in the suspect's interest to cooperate with the investigators regardless of what the other party does. However, if both suspects rat each other out, they will both be worse off than if they both stayed quiet.

No Dilemma (4, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245266)

There is no dilemma, there is only change. The Internet is a tsunami that is roaring over all aspects of our society. In the content industries it is clearing land for some while washing away the livelihoods of others. It is a force of its own. You can manage somewhat as you go but one thing is certain: it is now impossible to stop it, we have passed the tipping point. You might as well curse the wind, or you could adjust your sails to the best of your abilities.

I for one would welcome... (5, Interesting)

Smegly (1607157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245294)

...my mainstream media free google news search hits. Let me support some motivated, independent amateur investigative reporters... I have had waay enough of the corporate parrot news line for the self-proclaimed "professionals".

Hope (2, Funny)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245396)

There is reason for hope however. Like all complex systems we will find a new equilibrium until something like this happens again. We are in the transition period right now into the Information Age. A new order will establish itself but because of the stochastic nature of the process we do not know what it will be. Also, there will be a much higher frequency of bifurcation throughout our fabric as a whole. But overall the equilibrium should be stable. If you knew where to look these things are apparent. I'm not being snide, I've read stuff and I'm sharing it with you to explore. Research and prove you are right too.

Re:Hope (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245556)

One would hope that there might be equilibrium, as though this were an algebraic equation to be balanced. It might not be such an equation. What may turn out is something completely different.

Any of the search engines is likely to 'respect' robots.txt. Not doing so has a grey area of possible penalties. The newspapers have had a formula that's been around for centuries. It boils down to global, regional, and local news, coupled to features and driven by copy sales and ads. Classified ads are now eaten by Craigslist and others. Display ads and special sections/'custom media" are what remain for many newspapers. That's dwindling, too.

So is there an added value beyond comics and coupons? Perhaps not very much. Not enough to fund traditional printing presses. The equilibrium you cite may be that electronic sources dominate, with their funding ecosystems-- primitive as they are. Excluding one's publication from search engines might be fatal. There is no equilibrium with fatality.

... and Fear (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245748)

You are correct. The equilibrium may not be stable. It may be a form of perpetual chaos. That would be very bad. I tend to focus on the positive. I have faith that no matter what we can work through our challenges. Even if that means returning to an agrarian society. Incidentally, I do believe completely electronic will be where it settles: it is simply the most efficient use of resources to ignore.

Re:No Dilemma (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245454)

WTF are you talking about? Where is the car?

Re:No Dilemma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245508)

A sailboat is sort of like a car, only without wheels.

Neo... (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245538)

The matrix surrounds us, it penetrates us.... But it is not there, it is an illusion. The car is our society and we are but passengers. There are only atoms everything beyond that is an abstraction and therefore relative to everything else. When comparing abstractions you can establish equivalence. My brain causes my mind. My mind is in an abstract reality of its own. So is yours. They are examples of systems. So other systems also being abstract share a reality that is as valid as yours or mine but may be of a different degree of complexity. There is only dust, we, they, and it are metaphysical.

Re:Neo... (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245698)

Thats one way to look at Zen anyway, Japan realized it first but right now they also have a 99% conviction rate in their courts so they still have their own problems to work out... Anyway! Back on topic.

Forgive me while I stare at a shiny.

This is similar to the RIAA (1)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245276)

Unfortunately, it seems the newspapers can't make money. (I know I haven't bought one in years.) As such, they're turning to desperate measures in their death throws. It is sad, since future generations may or may not be able to look up information as readily in newspapers which are not sufficiently archived.

Re:This is similar to the RIAA (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245468)

Critically wounded animals are the most dangerous. Stand back or get clawed and bitten.

Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245278)

Does this mean all those stupid sensationalist entries will disappear from my Google news page! Great - can't wait!

Inflict Damage? (4, Interesting)

The Yuckinator (898499) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245284)

Really? Losing links to the various News Corp sites will "inflict damage" on Google's business?

Really?

Re:Inflict Damage? (1)

Walzmyn (913748) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245448)

Exactly. When I look up a news story on Google, I don't give a damn who is reporting on it as long as it's not the onion or something site.

If any of these news papers opt out of Google, we'll all be opting out too. I'll just go to whatever newservice is still there on google.

Re:Inflict Damage? (3, Insightful)

digitalgiblet (530309) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245624)

I think the "inflict damage" comment meant if a MAJORITY of news sources pulled out of Google, not just News Corp.

I didn't wriite it, I'm just trying to interpret...

The point of the article is that unless virtually ALL of the news sources leave at once, the result will really just be that those who are left will profit by the others voluntarily removing themselves from the competition.

Personally I think it is a gutsy but stupid move...

Not Quite... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245286)

If a critical mass of newspapers opt out of Google's search engine simultaneously, then a critical mass of newspapers will all see their traffic drop significantly. Newspapers are FAR from the only source of news on the internet. Delisting on Google will just allow others to gain more marketshare.

Last gasp of the newspaper (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245290)

If newspapers opt out of google, they will opt out of existence - already few people want to use them for news anyway, making them harder to ever read or find will just destroy readership further.

Re:Last gasp of the newspaper (5, Interesting)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245368)

This is the key issue, "few people want to use them for news". The way for newspapers to survive is to stop trying to provide up-to-the-minute news and concentrate on in-depth, reliable reporting. Newspapers are idea for covering local issues that do not get the attention of big media. They are also ideal for sports news and providing a forum for informed debate. The big strength of a newspaper is that there is a gate-keeper to prevent rubbish from being published. If newspapers can take advantage of that they can not only survive, but prosper. If newspapers simply try to out-internet the internet they are doomed.

Re:Last gasp of the newspaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245764)

So the should become magazines? It was not long ago that Gourmet failed. The rest of the industry is on life support. This is a temporary solution at best.

Re:Last gasp of the newspaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245818)

The big strength of a newspaper is that there is a gate-keeper to prevent rubbish from being published.

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be true in practice, which might explain the decline in readership ...

Re:Last gasp of the newspaper (1)

tixxit (1107127) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245450)

few people want to use them for news anyway

I'm sorry, but where else would you go for news (especially local)? Yeah, some blogs are fairly informative, but many cite newspapers. Most blogs are run as spare-time projects by people with day jobs. Newspapers are run by people who do it for 8+ hours a day. I think the readership decline has much more to do with apathy then the internet.

NPR, BBC anyone? (5, Insightful)

onionman (975962) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245298)

Maybe, just maybe, consumers who value actual news over sensationalized claptrap are finding that the opinion pieces and "human interest" stories which dominate Murdoch's offerings are fungible commodities.

Good bye Wall Street Journal. You were a reputable publication at one time.

Re:NPR, BBC anyone? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245432)

The Wall Street Journal has a lot more credibility than NPR or the BBC ever had. Then again if you like the idea of ultra biased and govt funded propaganda machines then these orginizations might be your cup of tea.

Re:NPR, BBC anyone? (4, Interesting)

Nexus7 (2919) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245636)

Firstly, the WSJ editorial pages are propaganda tools, so I assume you mean the news and analysis pages. As far as those go, I have come across people who will name drop it during discussions, but I work in finance, and these are probably people who decided early on they were going into finance and read it religiously since 4th grade or something. Anyhow, they are a minority of the people I know. In general however, nobody goes around quoting WSJ, if they can quote the BBC ad (although less so), NPR. I know NPR is affected by cutbacks, and is quite shoddy compared to the BBC; but to say that the WSJ has more credibility than the BBC? Not in my world. Do they even have correspondents in 25% of the places the BBC does? Do people in far off countries gather around a radio and tune in to the WSJ?

Re:NPR, BBC anyone? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245650)

NPR may be biased but it will at least give me a nice bulk of information. They will give you enough information so that you can cut through the hype yourself an make your own decision. Given enough depth, the bias of the reporter doesn't really matter. This was the great thing about Buckley.

The quality of content should nullify the bias of the author. If it doesn't, then it's just superficial yellow journalism actually intended to increase ad revenue rather than inform.

Re:NPR, BBC anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245696)

The Wall Street Journal has a lot more credibility than NPR or the BBC ever had.

Only to nazi fuckwads like you, Rupert!

Re:NPR, BBC anyone? (2, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245500)

This is why the viewpoint in the summary is flawed. I do not believe for example that the BBC would be allowed to delist from Google due to laws governing it because it's publicly funded and can't show competition bias.

I doubt the BBC is unique in this situation either, and the reality is for every thousand companies that delist from Google and follow Murdoch, there'll still be a BBC picking up the search results.

Users wont stop using Google, they'll just pick whatever the first result is on a search whether that's Fox, or the BBC and again, there'll always be the BBCs of the world there.

Re:NPR, BBC anyone? (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245894)

Well, for one the majority of people do not pay the corresponding license tax for the BBC.

People from outside the UK cannot legally use the iPlayer to watch BBC shows. So, in a same way the BBC news could cut their supply of free news to people outside the UK

Re:NPR, BBC anyone? (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245572)

I must be one hell of a liberal, because I actually do get most of my news from NPR, BBC World Service, NYT, and slashdot.

The Newspapers Have it All Wrong (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245312)

When the newspaper corporations continue to spout how the visitors brought in by the search engines are worthless because those people are drive-by visitors, I have to wonder about their content. If someone is brought in by a search engine they should be considered an opportunity. If you are not taking the time to ensure your design and content are meant to draw those opportunities into a goal, well, I think you're looking at this from the wrong way.

This is yet another reason why the newspaper industry just doesn't get it. Google gets it and so do the consumers. Microsoft doesn't get anything more than the bone they are being thrown.

I wish people would stop reporting on this story as, honestly, it's just a lame attempt at getting attention.

Relevancy (4, Interesting)

Erich (151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245342)

Isn't Google an AP licensee?

So even if Google doesn't index, say, the Wall Street Journal, can't Google still get the same news contributions form the AP newswire?

Or is there something special about AP license terms or something?

Re:Relevancy (2, Insightful)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245512)

I think I recall seeing something about that.

I don't know about most people, but I stopped reading the major newspapers (even online) late last year when they became nothing but AP parrots with weird spin jobs.

I mean, I know they were always AP parrots before, but it got *really* bad with the economy. The obsession with very specific stories is completely out of hand.

I'll stick with just the direct AP feeds, thank you.

Re:Relevancy (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245570)

So, like, Google could just let Murdock stuff himself and report the news themselves? Or they could buy a news reporting agency like they bought youtube and deliver a rival service and then eliminate all the other news reporting sites from searches.

That would be fun

Please To Explain... (1)

Shuh (13578) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245360)

In the meantime, Steve Ballmer is more than happy to play along with Murdoch because although a deal with News Corps would reduce the basic profitability of Microsoft's search business, it would inflict far more damage on Google than on Microsoft."

So how would a deal with News Corps reduce the basic profitability of Microsoft's search business?

Re:Please To Explain... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245518)

In several previous stories Murdoch apparently wanted money from search engine for the "privilege" of directing internet users to his stories.

"Reverse Adsense", if you will...

They are a commodity (5, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245398)

Newspapers and the news have become a commodity, they just don't realize it yet. When I can read 8 different newspapers with the exact same AP story, the differential between the newspapers becomes the experience. Newspapers are victims of their own business tactics. By removing local reporting resources, and getting most stories from the Reuters or AP, there is very little to differentiate one news source from another. Newspapers have two choices:
  1. Create more original content (ie create content by hiring reporters)
  2. Create a better experience for the reader (is your website pleasant to use)

Neither one of these has anything to do with Google, however surviving Google (or it's replacement) requires doing one and or the other. The fact that Google is the delivery mechanism for much of their traffic is moot. Changing the delivery mechanism won't change the fundamentals behind the issue. What newspapers need to do is learn how to keep the traffic they get once visitors find their site.

Re:They are a commodity (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245544)

This needs to be modded up. The problem is much more systemic than where the traffic comes from. It's like a small group of clueless idiots trying to figure out which garden hose to use to try and stop a nuclear meltdown.

Re:They are a commodity (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245606)

One wonders why the AP and Reuters allow newspapers to put their stuff online. AP and Reuters have websites of their own.

Re:They are a commodity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245744)

One wonders why the AP and Reuters allow newspapers to put their stuff online. AP and Reuters have websites of their own.

Because AP and Reuters are the newspapers. AP stands for "Associated Press." Emphasis on the associated.

Where did you think the newswires get all those stories from? Their vast in-house reporting staff? Newswires are a clearing house, not (generally) the producer.

Re:They are a commodity (1)

BESTouff (531293) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245612)

+1 Insightful.

That's one thing the Interweb told us, by easy browsing of different online versions of various newspapers: they now just display the same news as everyone else they just bought from a common source. In fact they're just glorified RSS readers for the AP/Reuters feed.

And then they wonder why their business model fails.

Re:They are a commodity (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245662)

yet. When I can read 8 different newspapers with the exact same AP story, the differential between the newspapers becomes the experience.

Sigh. I don't know why I bother with reading any article on Slashdot that involves newspapers.

Your opinion, like your perspective, is embarrassingly narrow. If you think a paper like the NY Times or the Washington post is a collection of AP stories, you obviously haven't read either, and are blissfully unaware of why it is they are read.

As for "8 different newspapers with the exact same AP story", that's a bit redundant given the nature of AP, doncha think? If you're trying to make the point that "lesser" newspapers increasingly do little reporting or offer anything unique or otherwise original, well, that's another "duh". Fewer readers (for whatever the reason) means fewer people to paying for it.

Re:They are a commodity (1)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245856)

Actually, I do happen to read those particular papers and the WSJ on a routine basis because they have more than canned AP stories. If something important is happening in the news, I like to get different takes on it, even routinely reading news sites outside the US. So yes, I can go through 8 sites trying to find a second article on something. Your baseless generalization doesn't change my point though.

My point stands, most major papers anymore offer very little to differentiate themselves from other papers. My point has nothing to do with lesser papers, it applies just as easily to the large papers as well. My own local paper has laid off dozens of reporters over the last year alone, and it is one of the biggest ones in the country.

News sites just don't get it, they are a commodity. If they want to stand out, they have to have something to stand out with. Wither you stand out with original reporting and or a better experience is up to the news source. Until news sites do that, they need to realize that the public is now well aware that one news site is typically just the same as another.

Re:They are a commodity (1)

locallyunscene (1000523) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245862)

When I can read 8 different newspapers with the exact same AP story, the differential between the newspapers becomes the experience ... Create more original content (ie create content by hiring reporters)

The problem is the cost of real journalism and the same duplicability you cite. If someone can summarize your well researched article and cite you as the source(which they should be able to do) then you don't have "original content" anymore. The internet has greatly reduced that time window of originality and the cost to republish.

Focusing on local news helps a bit, but you still need paying journalism for the major stories everyone's covering.

It Still Won't Work (4, Insightful)

segedunum (883035) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245408)

Even if what seems like a critical mass ouf publishers start delisting from Google, Google's search engine and advertising power and weight is such that other publishers and smaller news sites would simply move in and fill the void. Google might also be more than happy to get less hassle. It certainly won't work if publishers who want to delist start wanting to charge for news, and Microsoft will simply be pouring money down a drain if they pick up that slack and pay the publishers themselves.

It's a horse that won't run and the only reason why Murdoch is banging on about it is because News Corp is making some sizeable losses with no end in sight.

Re:It Still Won't Work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245584)

Even if what seems like a critical mass ouf publishers start delisting from Google, Google's search engine and advertising power and weight is such that other publishers and smaller news sites would simply move in and fill the void. Google might also be more than happy to get less hassle. It certainly won't work if publishers who want to delist start wanting to charge for news, and Microsoft will simply be pouring money down a drain if they pick up that slack and pay the publishers themselves.

It's a horse that won't run and the only reason why Murdoch is banging on about it is because News Corp is making some sizeable losses with no end in sight.

Microsoft pouring money down a drain, and Murdoch making sizeable losses. Almost in the same paragraph. And I thought today might turn out bad.

DUPE - but not Slashdot's (4, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245410)

Carr has railed about this problem before, and he's still just as wrong as he ever was.

Here's his analysis of Murdoch's first pronouncements [roughtype.com] on the topic back in April. And here's why he's just as wrong now [imagicity.com] as he was then.

(I later turned that post into a newspaper column [imagicity.com] in the country where I live. It's longer and slightly more polished, but more focused on our particular issues, which aren't necessarily germane to the larger debate.)

All Newspapers Having This (1)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245412)

We get the Philadelphia Inquirer and they give us the weekly paper basically for free. My wife wanted just the weekend paper for the fliers for shopping, and I don't feel like going to the end of the driveway to just pick up the paper and throw it out, but they were so enthusiastic about giving us the weekly paper for free we said ok. With that in mind, I can see how papers may feel the need to try and take some control back, however I don't see how this works unless they are hoping to just use it as a bargaining chip with Google.

When I want to look up some news tidbit, I don't want to have to go to each individual news site I'm aware of just to see if 'oh hey, maybe the Denver paper is covering this'. And even though I don't use Bing in general, I can't see people really thinking 'well, maybe I'll research this news topic on three different search engines and make sure I get a comprehensive point of view'. All I really see is this giving everyone who opts out a substantial hit in eyes on their site.

Maybe I am dumb... (2, Interesting)

space_jake (687452) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245528)

How does moving off of Google to Bing make them more money? I know Microsoft is paying them but I still don't see how this beneficial. If they kill Google and Bing fills in the void marketshare wise won't they just have the same problem?

Craig Newmark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245566)

Actually, trading Google for Bing would be trading one evil for another. The newspapers would be screwed either way. And Google's motto, "Don't do evil" doesn't apply to Bing.

Craig ate the newspapers lunch (their classified ads) with his list. He could atone for this by setting up a news search engine that shares the profits with the newspapers.

I was searching the internet recently for some breaking news (on a Congressional Act that was due to pass that day). Google, with all of it's billions of pages, was almost useless. I wasn't interested in all of the blog posts that had been yakking about the issue for months, or the newspapers saying that a vote was coming up. A very limited search engine (invited news media only) that avoided all of the search engine optimization crap that puts useless information at the top of the list would be a boon to the internet. Craig Newmark, with his non-greedy approach to the issue would be ideal.

Of course, Rupert Murdoch wouldn't be able to understand him.

Don't let the door... (2, Interesting)

snwod (721177) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245578)

So, let me get this straight, Fox News is threatening to remove their "news stories" from showing up in the feeds I see at Google News? That's it? I see no problem here.

good please do it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245618)

This is great. I can't stand Fox fake news so if they voluntarily remove themselves from my searches I never have to worry about supporting them accidently by using google news. Makes it easier for me to avoid every seeing their awful content and supporting them in any way. So please do!

The folks at WSJ seem to be dumb! (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245628)

You may wonder why...

If the content they provide can ONLY be gotten from the Wall Street Journal, then Murdoch is onto something here. if not, then I am sorry they are in trouble.

Just answer me: What can I get from the WSJ that I cannot get from anywhere else?

I wish Murdoch and gang would get to it already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245640)

Murdoch and supporters are assuming that everything will remain the same after he takes his news and go home. It won't. If news organizations decide to remove their news from public view, rest assured that someone will fill the void in no time.

In fact, this stupid move may become the biggest boost ever for citizen journalism, NPR, bloggers, and everyone else that cares to do good reporting. Things will improve quickly.

Any publicity is good publicity (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245646)

Murdoch is a master salesman, he'll continue to milk this to generate interest for as long as he can.

A more interesting scenario would be if Google started paying for the wire feeds instead of linking to the biased rewrites of them from CNN, Fox, NYT, MSNBC, etc. But I doubt we'll see that either because the newspapers know it would hurt them even more than Google aggregating the stories.

Create their own news organisation. (1)

Derblet (897683) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245676)

I'm sure Google's now big enough to get into the news business for itself. This could be a good opportunity for them.

No problemo (2, Insightful)

otter42 (190544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245712)

Alright, so some American newspapers put up walled gardens. No problem, I'll just read the foreign press. BBC does a good job, and so do many others.

Epic fail (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245752)

Newspapers seem to be doing everything possible to fail. News becoming a commodity - no problem, let's get all our news from wire services and the NYT / Wash. Post. Free opinion / analysis readily available on the web - lets move opinion journalism to page one. Readership falling - put our product behind a pay wall and raise prices.

Here's what they SHOULD be doing:

1) National / international news is a commodity. Good state and local news is harder to obtain - report IN DEPTH on state and local stories. Report real news, not opinion, not agenda driven, not drivel (hint: if your "articles" appear regularly in Fark, you're doing it wrong).

2) Lose the dead trees - ELIMINATE print and distribution costs, go entirely on-line. Support not just the Web, but mobile devices and e-reader distribution.

3) Learn from Google, make the site searchable by keywords, topics, time, and geography. Especially advertising, let me find a store selling a particular product / service at a particular time near my home.

4) Leave the "print mentality" behind - use graphics, audio, and video on news sites (without looking like someone's myspace page).

5) Community - interact with your readers - particularly on local stories / issues. Tie in with web 2.0 sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, etc.

How should Google respond? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245784)

Rupert and Newscorp threatens Google that they will stop Google from indexing their websites.

Google's response should be?

CNN NEWS HEADLINE: Google stops indexing Newscorp, traffic drops 50%. Shares off sharply. Film of Rupert crapping himself at 11.

Murdoch learns what HTML is (1)

Sleen (73855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245802)

If the interviewer asked Mr. Murdoch, so what do you think HTML stands for; what would he say? Does he know what HTML stands for? The reason I ask is that I suspect he does not know the words the acronym represents. In fact based on this, I am not sure he understands what the internet is and the fact that not only are there pages, but there are links. In fact the links and relationships between information is to be considered just as 'valuable' as the information itself. Without those relationships, without the fragmentation all you have left is propaganda. Switching to Bing won't be any different, just an older asshole that yells into his speakerphone.

Fundamentally I think older people see the internet as a communication channel like a pipe, instead of a shared network. I think older people imagine something like a PSTN but with fancier features, Murdoch included. Although Google is mentioned here as some kind of adversary and drain of revenue, the rationale to block any search engine from content, is fundamentally an act to block people from content. Murdoch is against the internet.

From a thanksgiving discussion I described the continuing decline of M$ coming down to hubris, and a simple choice they made a long time ago; to be in business or to help people. Murdoch is simply in business and could give a shit about helping people. The things happening around you whether near or far is bait for advertising for the newscorp. The middlemen are indifferent and occassionally haphazard with the content so long as revenue is coming in. Rather than change, or improve the quality of their delivery there is a chance to scapegoat and rally some shared hate amongst all those who share the same folly. Its kind of like looking across a population of mixed ethnicity in a political race and asking yourself, which ones can we massacre that would make everyone else happy? Of course this only works if everyone is ignorant of your efforts to single out the 'demon', so they don't see who the real demon is.

This is a last ditch effort and they see and feel the decline coming. If they take their content off search engines, it violates fundamentally the mission of a news agency which is to reflect the world in a timely fashion without bias. Maybe they would rather setup their own prodigy or compuserve or AOL network that they own and can control.

The future of media is with individuals and aggregators and the internet is the nervous system that connects them.

China is not fond of, and is also very opportunistic with the internet. Their reasons for blocking and filtering the internet are the same as Murdoch's. Murdoch made the choice a long time ago to be in business first and help people second. That obviously came with some profit.

The news is not his any more than the world is. If Murdoch pulls his agencies from the google index, it will be a perfect expression of bias that has existed in his content all along. Others that follow suit are propagandists who would rather hiss in a closet than speak in the world.

What Dilamma? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245812)

There's no dilemma here! There's only dinosaur newspaper management who mistake Google as an enemy. Why would google be an enemy? What basis is there for the quote that it 'prevents them from making decent money online — by massively fragmenting traffic, by undermining brand power, and by turning news stories into fungible commodities.'
1) What money? What does Google do that prevents them from making money? List other possible sources of news? That's like saying the yellow pages prevent you from making decent money because it lists competitors that might be cheaper
2) Undermining brand power? If your brand is preserved by the fact that customers don't know the value of the competitors products, you're doing something wrong. Isn't brand power based on a quality product and service? I don't see how Google linking to you or others has anything to do with that.
3) Fungible commodities? See 1 and 2, but besides that, welcome to the world of the 21st century. We've got the internet now, and copying is punished here. Back when people had no choice, they read their favorite paper to get the news. News was a fungible commodity back then as well, but there was no sense in buying multiple papers. The internet just helped people realize how fungible news really is. If you want people to come back to your site, you have to have your own style, your own news, something that differentiates from all the other papers.

Newspapers "grew up" in a time when they had to be alike to be read. They all had to report on everything in order to compete, otherwise people would buy another paper which had "more" news. They made themselves "fungible". If you look around on the internet, there are lots of sites/blogs reporting news from really small "niches". Think of a sport, hobby or interest, and you'll be bound to find (using Google!) a website reporting exclusively on that subject. Yet despite their niche appeal these sites thrive and flourish, and the bigger blogs even generate nice profits for the owners. Why? Because they're unique, either in style or in content. Newspapers should learn from that, instead of misguidedly bashing Google.

not going to work (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245880)

If there were only a few newspaper providers, this might work. But there's too many for cooperation in my opinion. And sooner or later (assuming generously it hasn't happened years ago) someone is going to figure out how to make money from that Google traffic. That means you'll have news providers who won't block Google traffic because it would lose them money. At that point, you no longer have the Prisoner's dilemma. Cooperation is no longer the best long term strategy.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...