By paulgillin | May 21, 2009 - 6:40 pm - Posted in Facebook, Fake News, Solutions

Eric Schmidt, CEO, GoogleTwo new entries in the almost-but-on-second-thought-no front: Google considered buying a newspaper but decided against it. Eric Schmidt tells the Financial Times that “There is a line and we’re going to stay on our side of it.  We have done well by letting content people creating great content in their own way.” He also says Google has no interest in buying The New York Times, but says David Geffen would make a great owner.”

Schmidt, whose company is often reviled as the great Satan by newspaper publishers, says that the loss of smaller papers come in particular is a tragedy. “The reporting that keeps the mayor honest is going to be gone and I don’t know what to do about that,” he says.

Without explicitly stating that newspapers should become nonprofits, Schmidt implies that the model has appeal. “Newsgathering and profitability model has always been an uncomfortable relationship,” he says. But he dismisses the idea that nonprofit is a panacea. “I don’t know how to solve the problem taking for-profit structures and transitioning them to a nonprofit world without some very generous person between,” he says. But that’s not going to be Google.

There’s a 10-minute video at the link above. If you think Schmidt is some kind of business velociraptor, watch the vid.  He has a Ph.D. in engineering, is thoughtful and contemplative and is also flat-out brilliant.

Also in the might-have-been category, the Washington Post‘s two managing editors told visitors to an online chat last night that the Post considered expanding its distribution base into Baltimore, where the Sun is hemorrhaging, but decided against it. “The best and most cost effective way to get us in Baltimore is either online or through a Kindle subscription,” they wrote as one. “We have indeed evaluated whether it makes economic sense for us to sell subscriptions in the Baltimore area and determined that the math doesn’t work in our favor.”


That’s all she wrote for the Tucson Citizen. A last-ditch attempt attempt by the Arizona attorney general to save the newspaper failed when U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins said the AG had failed to show that violations of antitrust laws or of the Newspaper Preservation Act had occurred. Quoting verbatim: “While regrettable that the Citizen‘s illustrious legacy must come to end, it can not be said at this time, the decision to close the Citizen involves an anti-trust violation. The Court can not say at this point in time that there is a violation of the Newspaper Preservation Act,” wrote the judge, who definitely should hire one of the Citizen‘s laid-off copy editors.

The Federal Trade Commission will hold a series of workshops entitled “Can News Media Survive the Internet Age? Competition, Consumer Protection, and First Amendment Perspectives” beginning on September 15. From the release: “The workshops will consider a wide range of issues, including possible business and non-profit models for news organizations, the role of targeted behavioral and other online advertising, whether additional, limited antitrust exemptions may be necessary under these unique circumstances, and the implications of online news for both copyright protection and the availability of broadband access.”

The Associated Press is offering a novel buyout program: employees get $500 for every year of service but their pension benefits are increased to 14% to 16% above that which they would normally receive. The plan is clearly aimed at older employees. Applicants must be at least 55 years of age with at least 10 years of AP service and the combination must add up to 75.

Latest layoffs totals, from Erica Smith’s Paper Cuts blog:
Salt Lake Tribune: 3
Raleigh News & Observer: 31
Durham, N.C. Herald-Sun: 7
Detroit Newspaper Partnership: 150
Baton Rouge Advocate: 49
Honolulu Advertiser: 15

And Finally…

From the Columbia Journalism Review: “Stephen Colbert weighed in on future of journalism right now, taking a side in the debate over the role of print: ‘Newspapers are an important part of our lives, not to read, of course, but, when you’re moving you can’t wrap your dishes in a blog.'”



This entry was posted on Thursday, May 21st, 2009 at 6:40 pm and is filed under Facebook, Fake News, Solutions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. May 22, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

    If Google went onto publishing, then they would be liable for anti-trust and monopolistic prosecution.

    And its the business model of print distribution that’s being shown to be broken, nothing else.

    Nobody wants the gummint to intervene. That’s an accident just begging for a place to happen. The AGs of every state in the union would ave a field with the ramifications of ANY gummint ownership. The Feds themselves would have a hard time violating the first amendment in such blatant manner for all sorts of reasons.

    We KNOW the print model is broken. People are not paying for the newspapers when they can get the same information and get a chance to contribute and/or to reply with the on-line model. The best thing to do is to change the market in which the gathering and distribution of information happens for money.

    The ONLY place where this could happen without anybody and everybody taking issue with international legal, regulatory and financial support is where its happening right now already.

    The Post Offices of every nation collect the mail and ship it everywhere on the planet for very little money.

    Let the Post Offices of the world carry the RSS feeds, for money collected from the consumer of the news, regardless of where they are on the planet, and pay the producers of the news, less the cost of distributing the RSS feeds, the money collected for the content.

    Its simple, its has no legal impediments, and it still lets the content producers slug it out in what amounts to a topological, as opposed to the current topographical, market place of ideas.

    Since the distributed product is a PDF file of the news layout, and that is what is paid for from the news gatherers, it wouldn’t even matter of the PDF file was printed and sold on the street.

    This would allow third parties to take on the financial burden of running kiosk operations for producing papers editions and charge for the value added, after paying the news gatherers for each copy.

    Posted by msbpodcast
  2. May 29, 2009 @ 3:08 am

    Gotta love Steve Colbert for telling like it is. I’m preparing for a move and I really need newsprint.

    Posted by srjones
  3. May 29, 2009 @ 3:22 am

    It previous post, that should be ‘gotta love Steve Colbert for “telling ‘it’ like it is.” Sorry, left out a word.

    Posted by srjones