Google CEO would save newspapers if he could

Google CEO Eric Schmidt on the plight of newspapers:

“They don’t have a problem of demand for their product, the news. People love the news. They love reading, discussing it, adding to it, annotating it. The Internet has made the news more accessible. There’s a problem with advertising, classifieds and the cost itself of a newspaper: physical printing, delivery and so on. And so the business model gets squeezed.”

And what if the newspaper industry does go down?

“To me this presents a real tragedy in the sense that journalism is a central part of democracy. And if it can’t be funded because of these business problems, then that’s a real loss in terms of voices and diversity. And I don’t think bloggers make up the difference. The historic model of investigative journalists in any industry is something that is very fundamental. So the question is, what can you do about this? And a fair statement is, we’re still looking for the right answer.”

We’d be in deep doo doo if we had to rely on bloggers from the news. I wish we could get a tax credit for contributions to news organizations. A much better use of my money than funding campaigns.

4 thoughts on “Google CEO would save newspapers if he could

  1. Lance, I think your premise, “good journalism is supported by advertising,” is true of the world 5 years ago, but not of the world 5 years from now. It’s true that good journalism *can be* supported by advertising, and it has been supported by advertising up to now. But I don’t think that’s a necessity.
    Even if the advertising dollars for journalism shrink by 90%, a model will grow out of that to support the journalism that our society decides it needs.
    It’ll be rocky for a few years as we transition out of our current model. But in a world where information is more readily available, journalism is getting easier to produce, not harder. And that means passionate people with personal interests can pursue stories that only people with access to printing presses and broadcast towers pursued before.

  2. David,
    It’s true about the overhead costs of printing newspapers and broadcasting, but to think that good journalism is not threatened is naive. Good journalism is supported by advertising. With the economy in the tank, advertising revenues are in peril. Just think what would happen if the Big 3 automakers quit supporting newspapers and TV programs. Unfortunately many media companies are overextended with debt after buying up other properties in the 90s and early 00s. Whereas media companies in the past might have been able to weather a downturn, things are about to get ugly for many good journalists.

  3. David is right, of course. And I didn’t mean to suggest it’s bloggers OR journalism. But, like Mr. Schmidt, a world without good journalism frightens me. But I trust David’s judgment on this topic.

  4. “Bloggers vs. journalists” is a false dichotomy. Good journalism has never been more prevalent than it is right now. And that’s despite the fact that most mass-media journalism is celebrity scandal and shocking-crime-of-the-week.
    The question is not whether journalism can continue to be funded. It’s whether journalism needs its current level of funding to stay viable. And the answer to that is “no.”
    The reason we think it takes millions of dollars to create good journalism is that we equate the cost of journalism with the cost of massive printing presses, broadcast towers and transmitters, and fancy TV studios. None of those things have much to do with journalism.
    Journalism isn’t in trouble. Old forms of distribution are.

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