The official news that News Corp and Microsoft are in talks. Or Bing's Slow News Future

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Congratulations to the Financial Times. It’s taken them 10 days and three reporters to confirm our previous story that Microsoft and News Corp, along with plenty of other newspaper publishers, are in actual, formal discussions to encourage them to de-index from Google and will incentivise them with premium positions on the Bing search engine, revenue share and, in all likelihood, cold hard cash.

The interesting thing about this story is that it is typical old media. It says talks are at “an early stage” but doesn’t even mention the fact that we had cast iron information that the actual meeting took place on November 10.

Also: The FT also doesn’t link to our story – plus ca change. Why? because it’s an “article” not a blog post. As is usual with traditional media, articles very rarely link, while their blog posts (increasingly, but it’s a taken a while) do.

Apparently “the Financial Times has learnt that Microsoft has also approached other big online publishers”. Yes, we know. We listed them in our story: Associated Newspapers, Germany’s Axel Springer and publishers from Poland and Italy, among others. We even know the name of the man at Microsoft heading up the discussion: Microsoft’s Peter Bale, Executive Producer of MSN UK.

The FT has no other new information that hasn’t been previously reported.

I’m sure I’ll get accused of trying to score points, but that’s not my aim. And I have the utmost respect for my colleagues on the FT. But there is a serious point here.

We put our story out on our site, on RSS and on Twitter. It was also cross-posted to which has millions more readers. Currently TechCrunch appears in Google News and many other search engines and aggregators.

Now, I really don’t see TechCrunch ever bothering with the idea that it will choose to be listed on Bing because it is paid for its content. The whole point of its content is that it is there to serve it readers and the tech community FIRST, not a content publishing strategy based on the bottom line. If Mike Arrington has started a blog in 2005 and chosen to only go with some paid-for, closed off network, I ask you would he now have a global brand which spans several continents? No.

In addition, would TechCrunch be able to beat mainstream outlets time and time again to stories? No.

TechCrunch does not need a content publishing strategy based on a business model which funds the production of content on an old model. Why? Because TechCrunch does not have (deep breath) large offices in New York, London, Shanghai and the rest; parking places for the executives; board rooms; a tea trolley to shuffle around each floor of a vast office; a canteen; receptionists; limos on call; printing presses; I could go on but I’m sure you get the drift.

Today, a news story or some kind of breaking news opinion piece is exclusive for *seconds*. And because people generally want information they are interested in or approve of spread about, the service which gets to that information and distributes it fastest generally wins. That’s why Twitter has become such a crucial and interesting source of news, because it is the closest thing we have to realtime online. And that is why information which has to rely on the checks and balances of a content distribution contract – i.e. Bing’s developing relationship with newspapers – puts the cart before the horse.

The scenario we are looking at here is a future where Bing brings you a world of slow news, brought to you by big-name sources like the Financial Times, well over a week after every other blog and Twitter user on the planet has chewed up and split apart the fact from the fiction, or at least the parts that matter.

So, this will not be the “machine that goes Bing” (to adapt a phrase form Monty Python), but the machine the goes “B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b……ing”.

  • Kirsten Winkler

    I am not sure if this is doomed to be an absolute failure. If you take a look at the big picture there are enough people who read those news sources and yes, who “google for news” / articles.
    There might be more of them than we expect, especially older people who start using the internet now. If they will start at a point where those news / articles of their trusted papers are only available on bing they have no chance to compare the situation. For example try today to explain the internet before Twitter and Facebook to someone who starts with it. The obvious question will be “But what did you do all the time?”

    So I think there might be more behind this idea than the real time web expects. But time will tell, of course.

    • Mike Butcher

      Fair comment, well made. Although it would also be fair to say that older people who start at newspapers are not on what would would call a ‘growth curve’.

      • Kirsten Winkler

        Of course not, but it could be something like “hype” that would give the old media some room to breathe.

        It’s a really fascinating approach if you scip the trench fighting. And as everything in web 2.0 today the users will decide.

        We as users of the real time web know that through our networks the news will find us. But if you have a look at the numbers over here you see that 73% of the Boomers use the internet to read their news. This is quite an interesting number you could maybe monetize on.

        And quoting BBC “For we professional journalists, that could be a worrying moment – one where we find out the true market value of our content.”

        I think Jason really started something on Twist that has the potential to shake the room. Btw, why is nobody mentioning him?

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  • James Law

    Peter Bale, of course, was head of TimesOnline for a while – a well placed MS UK contact with NI.

    As ex-News Int (10 years) it pains me to see all that hard work – some of it excellent – going behind a pay wall.

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