Feeds

Google: Make newspapers more like Wikipedia

Wire creator: No, don't

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Google, the nemesis of newspapers, was at the Congress yesterday, to turn a blonde deaf ear to their troubles. The company's pin-up VP of products Marissa Meyer described quite a bright future to the Senate's commerce committee - but it's a bright future for Google, and people with a lot of time fiddling with their computers. Also testifying was creator of The Wire David Simon. Let's contrast how each of them addressed the crisis.

Meyer said Google's policy "first and foremost" was to respect the wishes of content producers, but offered nothing in the way of new business partnerships. Instead, she gave them a short but haughty lecture on how they should present their stories - they should become more like Wikipedia:

"Consider instead how the authoritativeness of news articles might grow if an evolving story were published under a permanent, single URL as a living, changing, updating entity," she said in her statement. "We see this practice today in Wikipedia's entries and in the topic pages at NYTimes.com. The result is a single authoritative page with a consistent reference point that gains clout and a following of users over time."

Marissa Meyer

Google's Meyer: Mash-ups, living stories, Wikipedia, etc.

So instead of publishing 50 stories a day, the implication is that publications should only publish 50 a year - tweaking those 50 constantly, in the hope they wriggle up through the Google search results. Yes, that'll fix things.

She also said they should offer more scope for mash-ups. At both ends of the news chain, then, you have people fiddling - instead of writing (at one end) and reading (at the other). That's very Web 2.0, and you couldn't get a clearer statement that Google doesn't really understand what news is for. (It's merely the stuff that goes between the BODY tags, silly.)

The creator of The Wire and former reporter David Simon said he found the phrase "citizen journalism" Orwellian. He added:

"A neighbor who is a good listener and cares about people is a good neighbor - he is not in any sense a citizen social worker. Just as a neighbor with a garden hose and good intentions is not a citizen firefighter. To say so is a heedless insult to social workers and firefighters."

Simon also lambasted the newspaper industry's cry of "it's not our fault". Newspapers had gone from privately-owned family firms to publicly-traded stocks, he said, and many of the cuts in the 1990s were against the background of bumper (35 per cent) profits. Families were content with 10 to 15 per cent annual profit.

David Simon, creator of The Corner and The Wire

"The R&D funding that might have anticipated and planned for the internet revolution all went back to Wall Street, to CEO salaries and to big-money investors."

He also blamed them for giving away the crown jewels on the web for free.

"How anyone can believe that industry can fund [editors and investigative reporters] by giving away its product away online to aggregators and bloggers is a source of endless fascination to me."

The solution proposed in some US cities, and backed by the editor of the UK Guardian newspaper (which has never turned a profit), is public funding. Simon said he was dead against this.

"High-end journalism can and should bite any hand that tries to feed it, and it should bite a government hand most viciously," he said.

His solution? "An industry-wide transition to a paid, online subscriber base", allied to relaxing anti-trust laws and help with enforcing copyright. Which sounds like a blanket licence, of sorts, to me: one likely to be carved up between the New York Times and the Washington Post. But it was more of a plan than Google's Meyer had to offer.

The gossip blog Valleywag used to wonder if Marissa Meyer was an android, or merely a remote hologram projection - the gag being that she's merely a local representation of the Google Hive Mind. Well, judge for yourself by reading her fantastically inappropriate testimony, and Simon's statement too - here.

Andrew warmly welcomes your comments.®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.