I guess calling it a bailout may be a little harsh. It’s an investment. An investment in good journalism. Dan offers seven great ideas, including:
“‘Adopt’ a handful of newspapers, and help them build technologically-sophisticated Web sites, with an emphasis on micro-local and business-to-consumer relationships. For instance, local papers need ways to database local advertising, local content, and information on local readers — then serve up ads based on psycho-graphic and geographic information. Newspapers can’t seem to figure this out by themselves. Then make the technology available to others.”
Adopting just a handful could make this sound unfair. But if this was to happen in the UK, Google could perhaps adopt some groups. My friend works for the Scunthorpe Telegraph, part of the Grimsby and Scunthorpe Media Group, which is in turn owned by Northcliffe. Now, funding a design/functionality/advertising overhaul of the Grimsby and Scunthorpe Media Group would be a mere blip on the Google budget. Heck — doing the whole of Northcliffe wouldn’t cost Google that much, especially since most of the technology has already been created.
For Google, they get the added benefit of Google ads — of which they’d share revenue — on a load of UK regional sites. The regionals would enjoy being optimised for Google, leading to more readers. And, the brilliance of Google Adwords will mean advertisers would love it: Think how useful — on a story about, say, icy roads — an advert for the local garage selling good de-icer would be? If owned a small business, I’d be all over that.
Here’s another of his suggestions:
“Create an open-source journalism wire service, hiring excellent laid-off reporters to do great narrative and investigative work that’s free for the picking.”
I like this. But this would be a massive challenge. Should this be a success, it’ll lead to a helluva lot of jobs lost at the likes of the PA, AP and Reuters. This would roll over to many people — a huge amount of photographers make their money from pictures sold to the wires, and then sold on again — for cash.
And here lies the problem: Dan is looking at journalism from the point of view of the organisations. His open-source newswire idea forgets the journalists that make the world go round — the freelancers, the independents.
With the exception of Al Jazeera, no MSM organisation has a presence in Gaza. And, now Israel has issued a media lock down, no-one can get in. The reason why we’re getting footage is independent journalists, risking their lives by reporting.
Assuming Google wouldn’t pay for the content, and assuming by ‘free for the picking’ Dan means free to use, then who exactly is paying the independents? No-one, by the looks of it.
It’s a good start though. I’m starting to believe that Google is perhaps the only company that can save journalism.