Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Googling for the News

In a recent article in the Atlantic Monthly, Google is intriguingly portrayed as both the destroyer and saviour of the news industry. Certainly, while Google has forever changed the way users access the news, and practice journalism, Google also realizes it needs to salvage the industry as it is crucial to its own survival as a business.

Google's goal is to reinvent business model to sustain professional news-gathering, particularly as “crowd sourcing” and citizen journalism has transformed news coverage. As one of its executives argues, newspapers never made money on ‘news' coverage, Hal Varian argues, automotive sections, real-estate, gardening, travel, or technology had drew profits where advertisers could target their ads -- not serious journalism.

What Google (and the Web) has been done is level this into one giant system for stripping away these "cross-subsidies" current, up-to-the-minute information can be searchable. (Who searches for latest movie listings from newspapers anyways?) This type of "unbundling," as Google puts it, allows users to find the one article they are looking for, rather than making them buy the entire paper that paid the reporter, "all the while allowing advertisers to reach the one customer who is searching for their product, rather than making them advertise to an entire class of readers."

In fact, as Eric Schmidt forecasts:

It’s obvious that in five or 10 years, most news will be consumed on an electronic device of some sort. Something that is mobile and personal, with a nice color screen. Imagine an iPod or Kindle smart enough to show you stories that are incremental to a story it showed you yesterday, rather than just repetitive. And it knows who your friends are and what they’re reading and think is hot. And it has display advertising with lots of nice color, and more personal and targeted, within the limits of creepiness. And it has a GPS and a radio network and knows what is going on around you.

This is already what many pundits say the next generation web, or Web 3.0, will look like. I'm wondering if Google is just holding back on the good news.

No comments: