I’ve been following the news coming out of the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) conference. Here’s a link to latest thread as Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt adds his 2-cents. Basically the newspapers have discovered that “free” isn’t a business model while, at the same time, they have no idea how to regain control of the distribution of their content from the millions of bloggers and aggregators out there in the world. The thing I don’t understand is why they object to bloggers and aggregators providing links to their content and why they are acting like the music industry folks and “hating” upon their customers. First of all links are the life’s blood of the internet. If you want people to find your content, then links to your content (along with quality content) will help put your content on top of the Google stack (links are the Internet’s “street cred”). What news agencies don’t want is bloggers and aggregators reprinting content in whole without crediting or linking back to the source.
Let’s take a look at my interaction with Ad Age. I pay a subscription to Ad Age because I find the content compelling. I ended up getting a subscription because of links from the CEA news aggregator. Some Ad Age articles are free, but not all of them. I wanted access to this news so I pay for it. What a concept! In my blogging I put links to Ad Age in them and if my readers want to read the Ad Age source they can choose to pay and read the source article. Mind blowing isn’t it? So what’s the secret? Um … it’s called compelling content!
So with respect to bloggers, news agencies want them to find their content. News agencies want bloggers to pay to read content and then repackage the headlines so they compel their readers to follow the links back to the source. Those readers, then, will be confronted with the choice to pay to read further. So my message to the news agencies is that they should show some love to bloggers rather than “hating” upon them. Most people like their news pre-digested and spoon fed to them. Get used to it! Understand who it is that wants to get beyond the headlines and serve that audience. Quit worrying about the masses for which the “cesspool” of the Internet and headlines are good enough. Let the bloggers and the aggregators have the close relationship with the masses — use them as envoys. I think Eric Schmidt got it right by telling the news agency execs and reps,
These are ultimately consumer businesses, and if you piss off enough of them, you ultimately won’t have any.