Google, the Journalism-Killing Vacuum

We’ve written about this before, but today (5/11/09) the Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz turned in another example of journalists who seem to believe Google is what’s killing their industry.Responding totalks between his employer and Google about some sort of collaboration, Kurtz writes:

Hanging over the talks is the reality that the search giant, while funneling vital traffic to news sites, vacuums up their content without paying a dime.

I’m not sure what it is that Google is accused of “vacuuming.” Kurtz is likely referring to Google News, which lets users search manymedia outlets at once. The main Google News page features the headlines of what the search engine determines to be popular stories, sometimes with the first sentence or so of the accompanying article. Anyone who wants to readthe fullarticle can follow a link to the news site itself.

By way of analogy, for years most daily newspapers–including the Washington Post–have include a page of TV listings, giving the titles and air times of programs one might want to watch. Sometimes they go further and offer a plot summary; other times the paper will tell me that a given movie is terrible. Does all of this amount to stealing from the TV stations, since the newspaper profits from the ads it sells next to these listings? I wouldn’t think so, but I’m not sure how what Google does is all that different.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.