Maybe Google really needs newspapers

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Google has steadily and politely resisted suggestions from various quarters that since it has so much cash and clout, it should just rescue the newspaper business. Wisely, they have stuck with the mantra that they are out to organize information, not to publish content.

But this week we hear that Google is in negotiations with the New York Times and the Washington Post (and, one assumes, possibly others) “about improved ways of creating and presenting news online.” And Richard Siklos at Fortune reports

that an intermediary tried to interest Google in “buying the Times.”

Nicholas Carlson at Silicon Valley Insider mentions a couple of possible ingredients in the Times/Google talks:

  • A potential agreement in which any time Google’s search crawlers find a Web site carrying New York Times content and Google ads, Google would split the revenue it gets from those ads with the Times.
  • Google would somehow help the New York Times actually embed ads within its text so that when blogs or other Web sites use that text, the ads go with it. We have no idea how Google and the Times would do this. Neither does our source.

The latter is certainly something that a news organization allowing fairly free use of its content via an API would want to be exploring.

Two recent blog posts offer other possible explanations for the schmoozing between Google, Times and WaPo execs:

Read the rest of this post at Nieman Journalism Lab.

Photo credit: Adriaan Bloem, used under Creative Commons license.