You are here

Google CEO suggests journalism become not for profit!

Google's CEO Eric Schmidt had the temerity to suggest that journalism consider becoming a not-for-profit enterprise -- at a recent Google program for magazine executives.

  • See Ad Age's article: "Google's Schmidt says Internet 'cesspool' needs brands -- Says the solution is quality content; tells publishers and editors to 'increase your relevance'
    • From the article: "...when asked where the industry ends up if there aren't outlets willing to pay journalists to create quality content, Mr. Schmidt was a bit Palin-esque, saying that he didn't have an answer but one thing to look at is whether journalism should be a for-profit enterprise."

Google's CEO must think journalism-business people are stupid.

  • Google, the well-known and leading purveyor of the concept of a 'free Internet' (where, by the way, journalism can't get paid adequately for their content online), is placing the blame on -- journalism -- for not being 'relevant.' (In Googlespeak, 'relevant' is what the Google algorithm secretly most values.)
    • Well journalism deserves to lose their business, if they roll over and let Google continue to play the totally rigged game of Google 'relevance.' 
  • How is the game rigged? Well anytime there is a system like Google's search algorithm that represents itself as being fair and neutral, but it isn't open and transparent about the biases in the algorithm -- then those playing the 'competitive' game can't affect the outcome of the game.
  • In the same article Google effectively admits to rigging the game.
    • "...Mr. Schmidt declined to advise magazines on looking more popular to Google's page-ranking programs.
    • "We don't actually want you to be successful," he said. The company's algorithms are trying to find the most relevant search results, after all, not the sites that best game the system. "The fundamental way to increase your rank is to increase your relevance," he added." [Bold added for emphasis]
      • But what is 'relevance'? 'Relevance' is what makes Google the most money. It's not editorial judgment.
  • Meanwhile, back at the advertising industry, the world's largest advertisers have been woken up by the Google-Yahoo ad partnership and have realized that what Google calls a competitive auction for keywords, is not really an auction. 
    • That's because the bidder that bids the most does not necessarily win, and because the advertisers don't know how to bid in order to increase their chance of success in the auction. 
    • Simply, Google's Black Box algorithm works for Google, not anyone else.
    • Per the New York Times:
      • “Google and Yahoo claim these are auctions,” said Robert D. Liodice, chief executive of the Association of National Advertisers. “Many of our marketers don’t necessarily believe that these are real auctions.”

Now let's return to the condescending and predatory attitude of Mr. Schmidt that journalism, an industry that has been a for-profit industry for centuries, should consider not-for-profit status. That way Google could then fully commoditize all content in the world as the world's monolithic information broker and distributor.  

Has it ever occurred to the powers at be in the journalism business, that journalism has essentially fed, pampered and protected the beast that now is about to devour them?

  • Google is the number one brand in the world in part because of the billions of dollars of free advertising, earned media publicity, that the journalism industry has unwittingly slathered on Google. Google knows it doesn't need to advertise because the journalism industry will cover most anything Google does or says -- because its Google! 

Bottom line: The journalism industry needs to care more about their own bottom line if they are going to survive.

The journalism industry should connect the following three dots to understand the problem Google poses to the journalism business:

  • First, Google CEO to the journalism industry: "look at... whether journalism should be a for-profit enterprise."
  • Second, Google has already suggested that the Internet infrastructure or broadband industry should be not-for-profit in that Google's Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf asked: "Should the Internet be owned and maintained by the government, just like the highways?"
  • Third, Google's profit share of U.S. Internet advertising, the monetization engine for most all Internet content, is over 90% and Google and Yahoo combined represent ~99% of all Internet advertising profits in the U.S.

Simply, the journalism industry needs to reconsider whether it wants to feed, pamper, and protect the aspiring Internet monopolist that is about to devour them.