A new Columbia Journalism Review opinion piece argues persuasively (in my view) that Google “owes” something to traditional journalism and news organizations. Google, typically, is a stand-in for “the internet” in these discussions. However the notion of “responsibility” to publishers is unpopular among bloggers and Internet denizens more generally.
I tend to fault news organizations for not being faster, smarter and more creative in their online efforts. It’s also the case that the Internet as a publishing and distribution platform has disrupted traditional media models across the board. And pointing the finger at others, such as Google, tends to obscure the fault or responsibility that publishers should accept for their own missteps, failures and omissions.
Having said all that, I found this discussion in the article pretty compelling:
On Saturday afternoon, February 7, 2009, SI.com, the Web site of Sports Illustrated, broke a huge story: Alex Rodriguez, the mega-rich Yankees star, had taken performance-enhancing drugs while playing for the Texas Rangers. Sports Illustrated released the story on its Web site rather than in the magazine, according to the editors involved, in an effort to enhance SI.com’s standing as a destination for fans increasingly conditioned to getting sports news online. Within hours the story was everywhere, but if you went through Google to find it, what you likely got instead were the pickups that appeared elsewhere, summaries or even rewrites, with attribution. Most galling was that The Huffington Post’s use of an Associated Press version of SI’s report was initially tops on Google, which meant that it, and not SI.com, tended to be the place readers clicking through to get the gist of the breaking scandal would land.
The rest of this post is at SEL.