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.