Newspaper News & Controversy Roundup

There are lots of pieces today on newspapers in the wake of Eric Schmidt’s address to the NAA and the AP’s (partly irrational) anti-piracy rampage.

Here’s a roundup with some comments:

From CNet: Techmeme’s Gabe Rivera calls out the NYTimes and WSJ on being “news aggregators.” The Times owns Blogrunner, which is clearly a Techmeme-like news aggregator. It shows links to third-party content on its site. And Dow Jones’ AllThingsD is reportedly excerpting  healthy chunks of blogs without permission.

At the NY Times, Miguel Helft discusses whether Yahoo is a “better friend” to newspapers than Google. The answer is: yes. He also cites a very long and thoughtful post from analyst Ken Doctor about moving from “fair use” to “fair share” at Google News. The essence of the argument is that Google is getting more value from newspaper content — especially now that it has ads on Google News — than it’s returning in the form of links to the various news sites it aggregates.


Doctor suggests a rev share with the newspapers and an algorithm to determine what that rev share should be. He’s got a great idea — and a fair one. I would add as a suggestion that 60% to 80% of the revenue generated by clicks on Google News should go to the included publications and, in turn, paid to individual publishers based on CTRs to their sites. The sites that are most visited get the biggest chunk of the money generated by News.

Kate Kaye at ClickZ also writes about Google, Yahoo and newspapers — and about newspapers starting to sell search/Local SEM. The latter has been going on here and there for some time but will pick up steam. As I said in my conversation with her yesterday, the key will be to educate and differentiate these products. They’re all sounding the same and when five different companies, including two YP publishers and an independent channel (e.g., Reach, Yodle) are selling them too, it all gets very confusing and noisy.

Another idea: newspapers join forces to allow multiple online subscriptions from a single entry point. In other words, if some or all of them start to reintroduce subscription pricing, why not manage all that from a centralized portal/aggregation location. Allow me to pay one price to access multiple publications or have tiered pricing according to the number of online sites I want to subscribe to. Because that would require lots of coordination, it’s unlikely to happen.

Even thought I’m fatigued by it, I’m glad all this public discussion is happening. Something will emerge on the other side that will hopefully be sustainable and help support journalism, online or offline. Journalists and editors serve democracy and help support a healthy political system. They have to be able to make a living, buy homes, send their kids to college, etc. That’s what this is ultimately about: sustaining journalists and journalism — regardless of the platform or delivery mechanism.


Related (from the WSJ): True/Slant launches in an effort to create a new journalism-centric site with a slightly different model.

From MediaPost: Video Surges On Newspaper Sites and USA Today Bows Online Auto Community. The latter is about Gannett creating an auto community (looks a lot like AOL’s blog sites). Gannett has been one of the most interesting of the traditional newspaper publishers and has experimented with many different kinds of sites and content destinations. The company also owns PointRoll and ShopLocal.

Allan Mutter discusses what happened behind the scenes at the NAA event in private discussions among publishers:

The under-the-radar discussions include a sit-down among several CEOs – held quite separately from the convention under the guidance of a lawyer to ensure the talks don’t stray into inappropriate territory – that would be similar to a confab where many of the same leaders discussed the industry’s challenges in January, 2007. Despite the deterioration of the newspaper business in the intervening time, no similar session has been held since then.


4 Responses to “Newspaper News & Controversy Roundup”

  1. GloballyMinded Says:

    I checked out True/Slant and I don’t really see the usefulness of it. There are enough aggregators out there already. These sites add nothing to the conversation and simply just rely on content published by others. If someone wants to watch a video, why not just go straight to the source. Sites like in my mind are in a much better position for the future, because they are not simply aggregating stories and videos. Their videos analyze the stories adding another dimension to the story, giving the user a reason to watch.

  2. joemescher Says:

    Will competing newspapers band together to form a single point of entry for paid subscribers?

    Is it enough to bring the major media companies together?

    I guess the Internet really is still in its infancy.

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