Google’s Plan to Save News

by Russ Hill on May 21, 2010

The latest edition of Atlantic Monthly is a must read for anyone in the news business.  I know there are more articles each day about how to save the news business than any of us have time to read.  But, this one is worth your time to read and reread.

Writer James Fallows is a close friend of Google CEO Eric Schmidt.  And, as a result received unprecedented access to some of the smartest minds at the Internet giant.  He has spent considerable time talking with Krishna Bharat.  Don’t know who Bharat is?  Well, you need to know.  He’s the guy who in his spare time came up with a little idea called Google News.

Fallows writes that Bharat likely reads more news articles each day than anyone else in the news business.  He is a global traveler who is able to analyze the news business from a technological mindset.  His perspective as an outsider is invaluable as he examines the news business and makes some great observations.

I’ll let you read the article.  But, here are a few of the things I took away from it.  These are just a FEW of the takeaways for me:

  • Google says the “pack” mentality of news media is unsustainable. Different TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, etc can not keep publishing or broadcasting the same news content.  There isn’t going to be enough money to sustain the duplication.
  • Google is an expert at unbundling.  They have unbundled the web and allowed the user to find the one article or web page they’re looking for.  They say that’s exactly what the leaders of tomorrow’s news media business will be able to do.  The era of bundling is over (why newspapers are dying – people no longer want the gardening section with their international news pages)
  • Google says the three most important words for the news industry right now are: experiment, experiment, and experiment.  They acknowledge experimentation is foreign to traditional media outlets.  It no longer can be.
  • Google is building a business plan for the news business overall.  They’re working with several traditional media outlets as part of the process.  So, far that plan focuses on three things: “distribution, engagement, and monetization.”
  • Google says newspapers don’t have a demand problem (those that provide a robust digital product).  They have a business model problem (they haven’t yet figured out how to make as much money from digital advertisers as they’re getting from print advertisers).

Like I said, this is a must read.  Read the Atlantic Monthly article…

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