Google: Being Evil?

April 15th, 2009

Certainly people in the newspaper industry think so.

Despite the search engine giant’s slogan “Don’t Be Evil,” journalists and old-fashioned newspaper devotees are pointing the finger at Google for, in essence, stealing their content. Maureen Dowd is concerned for her job and Wall Street Journal editor Robert Thompson compared Google and other media aggregators to life-sapping parasites that will ultimately kill of journalism. And for folks who believe journalism plays an important role in society, killing off newspapers definitely qualifies as evil. (Of course, the newspapers themselves have played just a small role in their impending demise).

Google vs. the newspaper industry (an unfair fight) is a story that has gotten traction over the last week, since Google CEO Eric Schmidt delivered a keynote address to the Newspaper Association of America. Among other things, Schmidt told the newspaper editors that Google plans to begin generating revenue through advertising through Google News, something it hasn’t done to date. That left journos up in arms – Google will soon be generating revenue off newspaper’s content. In the face of their complaints, Schmidt told them they can opt out and they won’t be included in Google rankings. Will anyone call his bluff?

Associated Press has launched what it calls a “news content protection” initiative, an attempt to re-set the rules of engagement, which is to say, put the genie back in the bottle.

Newspapers certainly qualify as “the little guy” but they certainly are the underdog; it’s hard to imagine them winning. Especially, when Big Bad Google seems to be shifting its moral compass – they’ve dropped the “Don’t Be Evil” motto.

Posted Under: Media & Journalism
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