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.

About the author

Mathew 2430 posts

I'm a Toronto-based senior writer with Fortune magazine, and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

4 Responses to “Newspapers ignore Google at their peril”
  1. neither kerfuffle, nor brouhaha….more like tempest-in-a-teapot…it must’ve been a slow news day for so many folks to get their knickers in a bunch over this.

    What the LATimes said was pretty much what went around the blogosphere about the whole GoogleNews comments thing anyway…except maybe for the Bin Laden thing. That sounded more like an inside joke that originated at some conference, got published on somebody’s blog, and then everybody said “well, it was funny at the time…”

  2. Has anyone seen any examples of a commented on google news story? Is there a way to aggregate for stories that have comments.

  3. I agree Tish.

    And Steven, I still haven’t seen a story with comments on it — I looked for one of the ones that appeared in screenshots when the feature was first announced but couldn’t find it.

  4. It’s not going away. I think it’s a great idea.

    The real reason for Newspapers continued sharp decline is the fact that they have no idea how to leverage a community. The News, which was once scarce is now abundant. That means that newspapers need to shift from being general content creators to context creators.
    Unfortunately, google beat them to it.

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