Wednesday, November 25, 2009

MediaNews takes aim at Google

MediaNews Group will block Google from pulling stories from the Web sites of two of its newspapers that plan to test the concept of charging for news, according to Bloomberg News.

In the first quarter of next year, MNG plans to charge for most of its news on the sites of two of its smaller papers, the Enterprise-Record in Chico and the York (Pa.) Daily Record.

Google will still have access to whatever the papers continue to offer for free.

A.H. Belo Corp., publisher of the Dallas Morning News and other papers, said it’s also considering introducing online fees and blocking Google.

The first chain to discuss blocking Google was News Corp., headed by Rupert Murdoch. News Corp. is reportedly in talks with Microsoft about displaying stories on its Bing site. 

Google has said in the past that the value of the added traffic Google brings to newspaper Web sites outweighs what it receives by taking the content for free, the SF Business Times noted. As a result, fewer than 100 publishers have blocked their content from Google News.

The idea of charging for news online strikes former MediaNews employee Rob Burgess of Ukiah as crazy. On his blog he wrote the following letter to MNG chief executive Dean Singleton:
    Dear Mr. Singleton, 
    You and the people that own these newspapers are completely at fault for the current state of the industry. Even though I am no longer under your employ I derive no satisfaction from this statement. I am the fourth generation of my family to work in newspapers. 
    You ruined everything in the beginning by starting with giving everything away for free. It has now been almost 15 years since the Internet broke wide and you're just NOW getting around to asking people to pay for your content? 
    I don't blame people for not wanting to pay for it anymore, why should they? Who would pay for something they can get for free? That's foolishness. 
    If this is the best idea you people have come up with, we're looking at newspaperless future even faster than I thought. 
    Sincerely your former employee, 
    Rob Burgess


Anonymous said...

Right on, Rob Burgess!

Anonymous said...

As much as I despise Singleton, you can't single him out. All of the major newspaper chains including Knight Ridder, Gannett, NY Times, Scripps went down the same road of giving their content away for free, and training their readers to look online for the latest news. Those of us who thought that was suicidal in the 1990s were looked as a Luddites.

Anonymous said...

And why are we supposed to care about Burgess' opinion?

Anonymous said...

"MediaNews takes aim at Google" ??? Im sure the google boys are trembling in their boots!! LOL

Anonymous said...

How fast did this letter end up in the MediaNews shredder?
Probably faster than it took to type this comment.

Anonymous said...

burgess is "speaking truth to power"

Anonymous said...

Rob Burgess not only offers no solution of his own, but doesn't seem to know that basic rule of newspaper writing: a person is a 'who' and not a 'that.'