Google To Newspaper Industry: Don't Shoot The Gift Horse That Feeds You

Google’s been taking a beating from the newspaper industry lately, and Rupert Murdoch in particular. But the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal let Google CEO Eric Schmidt respond today in an Op-Ed piece which basically says: Hey, we know the Internet is killing your business, but don’t blame us. Google is here to help.

Google sends news sites 4 billion clicks a month, and Schmidt says it wants to assist the media industry in coming up with new ways to make money from their content. Google’s chief legal counsel, David Drummond, delivered almost the exact same talking points in a speech to a meeting of the World Association of Newspapers in Hyderabad, India. Drummond prefaced his remarks by imploring the assembled newspaper publishers, “don’t shoot, I come in peace.”

They shot him anyway, arguing that Google does not respect copyright—which is an absurd argument because any publisher can block Google from indexing their site quite easily. Google News now lets publishers with paywalls limit the number of free clicks per day to five per person and publishers can now choose whether they want their content to appear in Google searches, Google News searches, both, or neither.

Not even Google can save much of the dying print newspaper business, but it can help them build up their digital revenues. And that’s the subtext of Google’s message to newspaper publishers: Don’t shoot the gift horse that feeds you. (To mangle three well-worn phrases together). Those 4 billion clicks a month are a gift. While they might not add up to expense-account lunches all around at Per Se, they are nourishment nonetheless.

Photo credit: Flickr/Randy Son Of Robert