Google News Destroying Local Newspapers?

Mathew Ingram has a great post about Google’s new duplicate content detection in Google News (see more on Tailrank)

A fascinating announcement from Google about an arrangement with four of the world’s major wire services that will see their content featured more prominently on Google News. As far as I can tell, this deal has one major loser: namely, the thousands of newspapers that use content from those services, and are now going to see that traffic disappear.

The evolution of this relationship over the years has been interesting.

First Reuters (et al.) needed local newspapers for distribution and they in turn needed Reuters for more official and global coverage.

Then Google News comes along and decides to aggregate all the local newspapers into on comprehensive application.

There has always been an uneasy relationship between the local publishers and Google News but to date nothing has really exploded – but I think this might be the end of that uneasy relationship and end chaos.

… of course Google doesn’t see it this way:

Google News business product manager Josh Cohen rejected the idea that the move would worry publishers.

“The flip side is that there will be more room on Google News for more of their original content, which will be pushed higher up the results.”

In fact, Google might run ads against the content which they get from the agencies (which is going to take cash out of the local publisher’s pockets):

Josh Cohen, business product manager of Google News, said his company would consider eventually running advertising alongside the agencies’ articles.

Now I can certainly see Google’s position. The agencies created this content not these news sites so why not go right to the source?

The problem is that for Google News to exist they need to make the publishers happy or Google will be cut off at the source.

It’s a tough balancing act. If you hit it just right you’re fine but you can quickly anger people if you’re not careful.

Case in point is Google’s Hypocrisy about other people crawling Google News content:

Google crawls news sites and grabs their content for republishing on Google News. They rely on the willingness of those news sites to get distribution on Google. But Google restricts others from crawling Google News itself via their robots.txt file and terms of use, which state that “you may not…use any robot, spider, other device or manual process to monitor or copy any content from the [Google News] Service.”

So they can crawl your content but you can’t crawl them? How’s that make sense?

We have tons of people crawling Tailrank. In fact, we started Spinn3r specifically for this purpose.

It will be interesting to see how this evolves. I’m willing to get the local publishers are going to push back on Google and some sort of truce will be found.

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