An editorial about Google in the Los Angeles Times has caused quite a kerfuffle (or perhaps a brouhaha) in the blogosphere — in part because the editorial said that for some newspapers, the search engine and its Google News aggregator are as bad as Osama bin Laden.
Robert Niles of the Online Journalism Review says the paper “lit its credibility on fire” with that statement, and insulted its readers with a misunderstanding of how Google News operates and what the benefits are for online journalism. Jeff Jarvis says — and I would agree — that the editorial seems to be mocking newspapers that see Google as Osama.
In any case, there does seem to be a tone of righteous indignation to the editorial, at the idea that someone like Google could be so bold as to claim that a feature of theirs — in this case, the ability to add comments to a Google News story — might help to improve journalism. And that is where I think the LA Times misses the boat.
As my friend Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 points out, journalism is no longer (if it ever was) a thing that is crafted and polished and then delivered to newspaper readers for their enlightenment every morning. It is something that develops over time — a continuous process, and media outlets are only part of that process now.
I think smart newspapers know that, and are trying to make their readers, their community, and those affected by news events a part of that process. The not-so-smart ones are making fun of Google and hoping it goes away.