Posted by: Marshall Sponder | July 10, 2008

Google Pressroom – coming down the pike – sooner or later

Jeff Jarvis sees it coming – and there are pros and cons to the idea – but it seems to me to be the logical outcome of what’s happening in the Newspaper business that Google may end up being the new pressroom.  I can see the line of reasoning here – though it’s somewhat flawed, but it makes sense:

What if newspapers handed over much of their work to Google? Edward reasoned that Google already is the key distributor online. He said that Google is great at technology and newspapers aren’t and for the future, where are the best technologists going to go? Google. Google is also brilliant at selling ads and Edward even wondered where the best sales talent would go in the future: there or a paper?

So why not hand over those segments of the business to Google and concentrate on what a newspaper should do: journalism?

To be honest, what I’ve seen come our the Washington Post and the New York Times sounds a lot more impressive than it really is, upon close examination – and meeting with people who work in the “business” have left me “unimpressed”.

In fact, often, when technologists work for Newspapers, they’re viewed as a “pimped” out service that becomes subservient to it’s stakeholders and ends up with multiple tools that essentially do the same thing – often, not that well.

Perhaps, the most “political” place to work, for a technologist, is a large Newspaper – believe it our not, as the management, is generally speaking, Journalistic oriented, not that technically savvy, and often, not that business savvy, either.

At least, that’s my impression. Not only that, but they’re in “denial” and don’t even want to talk about their own “dysfunction” – it’s probably too political and hot an issue to talk about; if I worked there, I’d probably not want to talk, either.

So, having said the obvious, it seems to me that what Jeff Jarvis is writing about – let Newspapers focus on editorial and content and let Google figure out how to host it, maintain it and provide metrics for it – makes a whole lot of sense – and if it’s not Google, it could be Yahoo or Microsoft or someone else.

The only problem I see with it – is that having that much power (ie: the publishing platform becomes “N-Google” or something like that) makes it so much easier to control the news, if you were the “government” or even, Google.

One of the things that make it harder to control information was how the Internet was spread all over the place – as much as you try to suppress information, there’s someone else who’ll publish it, somewhere.

But what if the only place l you could end up publishing anything was ultimately controlled by one entity – say … Google?    Couldn’t the NSA just monitor Google’s Press room and say … hey, we don’t like this story … take it down ….and then it would not appear anywhere.

So, I like the basic argument that Google could run a better Pressroom than large Newspapers can, today – and that most of the best technology talent is going to end up at Google instead of, say, the New York Times or the Washington Post , or somewhere similar, I don’t buy that it’s such a great idea to go and and do it – at least, not today – not yet – but the idea shows promise if some issues can be ironed out – and it will  help many Newspapers survive by not having an IT Cost dragging it down.

Reminds me of clothing, in a way – sometimes I see a shirt that looks good in the store, but I know, would not look good on me – I want to buy it, except I know better.   Same thing here – the idea sounds better than it actually is, yet – but I think, with some improvements – this is where we’re eventually going to end up with the Newspapers – at Google, or some other large Publisher.

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