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Newspapers, Google and the Future....

|Includes: AABA, GOOG, LookSmart Group, Inc. (LKST), MSFT, NWS, NYT

The problems newspapers have has been a passionate interest of mine for the past 5 years or, more. The transformation across to the web has not been easy.

I wrote many an E Mail to my Co (Looksmart) over the years and one that stands out in particular (back in Xmas 2005), had included the following:

..So, ATM, we could have a situation whereby Google is offering AOL 90% or, 95% of all search revenues generated, yet a "little birdie" called "Mr Softy" may be saying........... you could finish on your own, with them.

And nearly four years down the road from then (a helluva long time, in terms of the web), we almost have the realisation that this, was to be the case. From within this terrific story -"The Platform: What’s a Fair Share In the Age of Google?" - comes what I believe is the first "signal" of the change that's nearly upon us...

<...............................The buzz inside Google is overwhelmingly positive about what the company does and how we will all benefit from the results—including the embattled denizens of newspapers and magazines who increasingly see Google as an enabler of their demise.>

<...........Google is as important today as were Microsoft, IBM, and the original AT&T, linchpins of our culture and economy, in the development of modern computation and communications.

By contrast, the great twentieth-century print companies, such as Time Inc., Tribune, and The New York Times Company, are in a battle for survival, or at least reinvention, against considerable odds. Google has become a kind of metaphor for the link economy and the Internet’s immense power to organize content

Yet, there's still that degree of "Google massaging" going on, that has seen Google's share-price value being "sold" to the unsuspecting over the past 6 months or, so..[Google closed UP today - $438.17 -  $13.48 (+3.17%)]

<...Google maintains that it is actively working to make journalism and literature truly democratic and, functionally, easier to do. Google’s “Office of Content Partnerships” sent me a list of “free tools journalists could use today for nearly every aspect of their work,” including Blogger, a platform for publishing online; Google Analytics, for measuring Web traffic; Google Web site Optimizer; and other tools.

The publishers of newspapers, magazines, and books, recognize that Google and the link-referral service it represents have become inextricable from their audiences’ lives, and indispensable to reaching that audience in large numbers

..The author points out that in relation to the notion that "information wants to be free", is absurd and that only two months later, the Associated Press (clearly acting on behalf of the news organizations that own it) made a similar point and initiated a process that could end in lawsuits..............

......Addressing the Newspaper Association of America, the chairman of the AP’s board of directors, William Dean Singleton, CEO of MediaNews, said: "We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under misguided legal theories."

To me, it's all just a "warm-up" warning to what will be the inevitable change that's upon us...Change, (I feel) where MSN and Yahoo get together in a search deal, MSN then takes on the (ads) 'management' of it's properites and all those (850 odd) newspapers within the Yahoo, YPN.. And Yahoo (itself, then) becomes it's own, 'separate' and independent advertiser Exchange. To then independently participate in that much talked of (by myself, in particular - and what will be the) Global OPEN and RTB auction Marketplace, of advertisers and publishers. With MSN now, leading the charge.

And it's all well "documented", here......

So it's back to that splendid article, and......

The line "information wants to be free" comes from the futurist Stewart Brand, who first said it at a programmer’s convention in 1984 and elaborated in his book, "The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT", in 1987, where he wrote:

< Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine—too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, ‘intellectual property,’ the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better.>

Brand leaves out another factor—that valuable information is expensive to produce. But two decades later, the battles he foresaw are fully engaged.

An ecosystem in which all stakeholders in the content economy have a fair share. That is one media executive’s succinct summary of what is necessary to redress the growing imbalance of power and resources between traditional content creators and those who provide links to or aggregate that material.


It's a good (lengthy) story of the developing plight (or, actual demise, in some instances) of the newspaper industry and certainly, well worth the 'read'. And I love the final paragraph or, two...

< There is a message in history for Google’s leaders: nothing in the realms of business, information, entertainment, or technology remains as it is. Brin and Page stand on the shoulders of Gates and Jobs who followed Watson, Sarnoff, and Paley, who came after Luce and Disney and succeeded Hearst, Edison, and Bell. The next breakthrough innovators are doubtless at work somewhere. Will they help meet society’s fundamental demand for news that supports itself in a way that Google and the rest of the digital generation say they want to do, but have not yet done?

............Google is an extraordinary company with a nonpareil record of creativity. What a wondrous thing it would be for news gathering, in a time of mounting crisis,
if Google turned out to be as much a source of solutions as it is a part of the problem.>

They (Google) will be "contributing" all right, and in a huge way. As a part of the Google Advertiser/Publisher Exchange (with it's Pub Manager - DoubleClick), pushing "plenty" of dollars through that (more fairer), OPEN Marketplace....

Disclosure: I do (confidently) hold shares in Looksmart. (Private:LOOK)