Google’s Eric Schmidt Chronicles Newspapers’ Decline As He Offers To Help

Newspaper reader Eric Schmidt, who happens to be Google’s CEO, has spoken frequently about his reverence for news journalism and the important role it plays in society. He and his organization have worked with and reached out to publishers to find ways to promote and expose their content online. Yet despite these overtures many newspaper publishers, most notably the good folks in the C-suite at the Wall Street Journal, have called Google a “thief,” “parasite” (and worse), blaming Google for practically all the evils in the world save global warming.

Today, Schmidt writes an editorial that appears in that very same Wall Street Journal, which seeks to provide more historical context for the current predicament of newspapers. You can see his remarks as self serving but I think they’re accurate:

It was the arrival of radio and television that started the decline of newspaper circulation. Afternoon newspapers were the first casualties. Then the advent of 24-hour news transformed what was in the morning papers literally into old news.

Now the Internet has broken down the entire news package with articles read individually, reached from a blog or search engine, and abandoned if there is no good reason to hang around once the story is finished. It’s what we have come to call internally the atomic unit of consumption.

He also points about the ways in which Google can and wants to help:

Meeting that challenge will mean using technology to develop new ways to reach readers and keep them engaged for longer, as well as new ways to raise revenue combining free and paid access. I believe it also requires a change of tone in the debate, a recognition that we all have to work together to fulfill the promise of journalism in the digital age.

Google is serious about playing its part. We are already testing, with more than three dozen major partners from the news industry, a service called Google Fast Flip. The theory—which seems to work in practice—is that if we make it easier to read articles, people will read more of them. Our news partners will receive the majority of the revenue generated by the display ads shown beside stories.

Nor is there a choice, as some newspapers seem to think, between charging for access to their online content or keeping links to their articles in Google News and Google Search. They can do both.

He appeals to the industry to set a different “tone in the debate.” Cutting to the chase, I would agree that newspaper publishers are better off working with Google (and other search engines) than shunning them. Danny wrote previously about the pitfalls of withdrawing content and/or forming an “OPEC” of publishers.

The Internet, as Schmidt contends, as well as third party content aggregation have been disruptive for newspapers. Traditional media companies no longer control distribution as they once exclusively did. And Google is for most newspapers the most visible stand-in for the Internet and these developments as a whole.

Google is a self-interested company with its own agenda — to be sure — but, on balance, it’s better to find ways to work with Google or take advantage of Google technology than it is to completely stonewall and shun the company. News and traditional content publishers must work with search engines as well as find alternative distribution channels and platforms (e.g., mobile) for their publications.

Related stories:

More on Techmeme.

Related Topics: Channel: Content | Google: Critics | Google: News | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.

Comments are closed.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide