Likely news organizations don’t know whether to scream or to laugh.
Google – one of the biggest culprits in the downfall of newspapers and magazines – preaching to them about “journalistic values.”
This from a company, mind you, that spends not one single penny on journalism. A company that aggregates the journalism from hundreds of news organizations – from the New York Times to TechCrunch – on Google News and sells its own advertising around it.
And now Google wants to discuss “credibility and trust” in journalism.
It’s like a thief who breaks into your house, steals your flat-screen TV, and then lectures you about needing better locks.
What has got Google declaring itself the Grand Protector of Journalism?
The rise of Native Advertising – a.k.a. Sponsored Content or Brand Content. News organizations, struggling for survival as paid readership flees in droves and advertising dollars whisk to Google, Facebook and other digital platforms, has been experimenting with new ways to monetize.
One of those ways is Native Advertising. News organization are working with advertisers to jointly create content for readers – that both the news organization and advertiser believe has value for readers. There are different models in place, but it can include journalists writing articles on behalf of advertisers, advertisers providing content to the news organizations or advertisers actually creating the content and it being distributed by news organizations.
All of this, of course, going through the filters of the individual news organizations leadership.
No doubt Sponsored Content is laden with obstacles. News organization have to be careful to distinguish between the two. They have to open, honest, and transparent with their readership.
But that’s the job of the individual news organizations – not Google.
Yet last week the Google News blog published a post called “A reminder about promotional and commerce journalism” by Richard Gingras, senior director of News & Social Products.
The post said, in part:
“Credibility and trust are longstanding journalistic values, and ones which we all regard as crucial attributes of a great news site. It’s difficult to be trusted when one is being paid by the subject of an article, or selling monetized links within an article. Google News is not a marketing service, and we consider article that employ these types of promotional tactics to be in violation of our quality guidelines.”
Basically, Google – who does not practice journalism – is defining for news organizations what journalism is and how to practice it. Never mind that without creative new ways to generate revenue many news organizations will go out of business.
Here’s a better idea.
If Google wants to “protect” journalism it should share its advertising revenues from Google News and Search with news organizations. Every time a click goes to a newspaper, news magazine, or news outlet a percentage of the money that Google earns from that click should be paid to the creators of the journalism.
Less lectures, Google, more action.
Google News Blog entry on Protecting Journalism