Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It's Time to Stop Blaming Google

Since the very start of the 'commercial' Internet, there has been wholesale changes in almost every business on the planet.

It seems, only now, that we're hearing ongoing complaints about Google and their aggregation of content.

The reason?

Most of us read the news, and more of us every day are doing it on the Internet.

Newspapers (and entire news organizations) are being threatened and downsized ... but it's not Google.  It's not Google at all.  It's MILLIONS of blogs and websites with good (or great) writers delivering quality content.

It's the Internet and the hyper change the platform continues to deliver to every business.

Newspapers on the Internet are nothing new.  They too can be traced back to the very early days of the web.  The difference now is that there are of thousands of them where back then, when we all found it pretty amazing, there were only a few.

Local web-only news sites spring up and were immediately popular.  Very popular. People wanted to know what was going on in their own backyard.  Like today, they found it difficult, if not impossible, to monetize.  Citizen Journalism was born way back then and in some cases created (successfully) citizen activism.  

In the late 1990's, I launched one of those local sites .. and then another.  They were both incredibly popular. Covering local news became a passion.  Neither site made money online .. one survived in print .... and I bailed (late) on both attempts despite the fact that I couldn't even keep up with the e-mail.

There was no Google Adsense and trying to sell web ads in those days was VERY premature.

Now we have news organizations blaming Google for the erosion of their bottom line.

It's simply ridiculous.

There are 10 of millions of blogs and websites delivering relevant content.

It's getting more difficult for even Google to index them as many don't embrace SEO (which is crazy?!).

While companies like, well CNN (who recently broke ties with the AP), AOL and Yahoo are trying to be content providers, it IS Google and to some extent Microsoft's Bing that are delivering the news websites to the Internet with the exception of the few holdouts that find it difficult to change and read the same 'paper' each morning ... more likely now, on the Internet.

Journalists have joined Internet companies.  It's a trend that continues in it's very early stages.

People like Mathew Ingram, and as recently as today, Peter Vidani are exiting 'classic' newspapers and magazines and joining Internet-based companies.

Aggregators are HUGE.  As noted many times in the early days of this blog (when it was 'easy' to be picked up by Reuters and others).

The trend continues.

Google News (despite the new, somewhat horrid 'new look'?!) is one of those aggregators.

One can only wonder where half of the news organizations would be today without Google and niche aggregators such as the recently-sold PopUrls, AllTop, Techmeme (and their new sister aggregator Mediagazer) and others.

The NY Times did a piece on Techmeme yesterday.  I tweeted it:

Tonight it's a news story:

The chance for most blogs like this to be syndicated still exists, but in new ways.  The days of 'major names' picking up stories from here are over for now as the 'big Internet names' in Tech have negotiated multi-media deals with big name newspaper, TV, and other branded outlets.  Smart.

Change is what the Internet is about but Google, the Huffington Post, or anyone else pointing to others in a direct and/or hybrid way is not the problem.  For now, it's part of the solution.

Think of it this way.

The early days of cable brought us new and unique channels.  Cable systems today (and satellite) deliver not only several hundreds of channels but 'pay-per-view' as well.  Nothing on tonight?  I doubt it BUT if your neighbor or co-worker plays aggregator and tells you about a cool new show ... you may just watch it.  More importantly, you may go back again.  You might even buy an episode .... electronically or otherwise??

To the AP, News Corp and others.  PLEASE stop crying.  While I have empathy for small news creators, you guys still have plenty of options to make money and produce your own unique content.

I suppose we all have Time-Warner to thank.  Their (very) premature decision to change the format of Headline News (now HLN) has literally forced many of us to the web to get the latest headlines ......

.... and discover new and brilliant sources every day.