The print medium is not going to die and newspapers will continue to be a feature of the media landscape well into the future.
That’s the view of Google executive Santiago de la Mora who believes that just as VHS, and later DVD, didn’t kill cinema, websites and electronic readers won’t stop the printing presses.
However, newspaper publishers can’t ignore the Internet. “The challenge for newspapers is how they make content relevant for Internet users,” De la Mora says. “That means going further than they do in print, enhancing content and making it more relevant.”
De la Mora and his team at Google manage the Internet giant’s relationships with large and strategic players in the publishing industry in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
It’s a tough job. Google came under heavy fire from newspaper publishers last year, with News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch railing against the search giant, accusing it of stealing publishers’ content, and threatening to pull his company’s newspaper websites off Google News. (He didn’t carry out the threat.)
Locally, Trevor Ncube, the deputy chairman of Mail & Guardian publisher M&G Media, has come out in strong support of Murdoch, saying Google thinks it can “dictate to us what the business model should be” because of its “dominance on the Internet”. “Now publishers are saying, ‘no thank you, it is our content after all’.”
But De la Mora makes it clear that he thinks these critics have got it all wrong. Google doesn’t want to be the enemy of the newspaper industry. Rather, he says, it wants to help newspapers by driving traffic to their websites and helping them build online products that add value to readers and expand publishers’ audiences. “What we’re trying to do is highlight how we can contribute to the industry,” he says.
Google News sends more than 1bn clicks to publishers’ websites every month, he says. Ordinary Google Web search delivers another 3bn clicks a month. “Newspapers are getting users from all kinds of sources.”
Google’s intention, De la Mora says, is not to undermine publishers. He dismisses suggestions that the company is trying to usurp revenue from publishers. Besides, publishers have full control over how their content is indexed by Google, he says. Using Google’s webmaster tools, publishers can prevent Google from indexing their sites entirely, or they can prevent specific Google services, like Google News, from indexing their content.
However, De la Mora says he can’t think of a reason why publishers would not want to be indexed in Google News. “It’s generating traffic [for publishers],” he says. In today’s world, where you have so much information, it is helping quality content providers to surface and making sure they’re found [by readers].” — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral