This week’s tired Google-killing-newspapers theme struck a nerve with Danny Sullivan, editor in chief of Search Engine Land.
In a brilliant, profanity-punctuated, 2600-word essay on his personal blog, Sullivan explains to newspapers why they should love Google: Because without it, they’d be even more screwed.
Sullivan also goes through the trouble of teaching Rupert Murdoch how to exclude his papers from Google, if he sees fit. Here’s an excerpt:
Let me help you with that, Rupert. I’m going to save you all those potential legal fees plus needing to even speak further about the evil of the Big G with two simple lines. Get your tech person to change your robots.txt file to say this:
Done. Do that, you’re outta Google. All your pages will be removed, and you needn’t worry about Google listing the Wall St. Journal at all.
Oh, but you won’t do that. You want the traffic, but you also want to be like the AP and hope you can scare Google into paying you. Maybe that will work. Or maybe you’ll be like all those Belgian papers that tried the same thing and watched their traffic sadly dry up.
Perhaps all the papers should get together like Anthony Moor of the Dallas Morning News suggests in the same article:
“I wish newspapers could act together to negotiate better terms with companies like Google. Better yet, what would happen if we all turned our sites off to search engines for a week? By creating scarcity, we might finally get fair value for the work we do.”
Please do this, Anthony. Please get all your newspaper colleagues to agree to a national “Just say no to Google” week. I beg you, please do it. Then I can see if these things I think will happen do happen:
- Papers go “oh shit,” we really get a lot of traffic from Google for free, and we actually do earn something off those page views
- Papers go “oh shit,” turns out people can find news from other sources
- Papers go “oh shit,” being out of Google didn’t magically solve all our other problems overnight, but now we have no one else to blame.