Rupert Murdoch is not a stupid man, his business empire is evidence of that. For anyone to become a media mogul requires smarts, but those smarts seem to be deserting Murdoch as he continues to play the fool and deny that old monetisation methods do not work for the new online model that has so totally embraced news media.
Gord Hotchkiss over at Searchnewz says "Rupert Murdoch's rantings are so out of touch that they're bordering on lunacy, or, at a minimum, stupidity. He's mad that his old revenue model isn't working anymore" and I couldn't agree more.
When Mike Butcher at TechCrunch broke the news that Microsoft might be trying to fund a move to persuade newspapers to move from Google to Bing, a few of us blinked not so much with surprise but more a feeling of inevitability. It took a while for the rest of the world to catch up after the Financial Times published a story (behind a paywall and 9 days later, ironically enough) stating that Microsoft had discussions involving News Corp "being paid to de-index its news websites from Google". It's also something Ron Miller, right here on DaniWeb, beat the old media to the punch with if you broaden the net a little and excuse the pun.
This all comes off the back of a Sky News interview with Rupert Murdoch during which he pointed out that readers who see News Corp news after arriving from a search page are of little value as far as its advertisers are concerned. Murdoch took the bait offered up by the Sky political editor when asked why he didn't make his sites invisible to Google in that case and responded with a curt "I think we will".
Murdoch is, as you would expect from a media mogul, looking for ways to make news pay. He has already proposed a highly controversial 'paywall' behind which premium news content should be made available only to those willing to pay for the privilege. You can do your own search for 'Murdoch Paywall' to see what the web thinks of that. My view on that, as a former Sunday Times columnist and having had some involvement in the first News Corp online venture (Delphi UK) is to say OK, go ahead. Market forces will prevail and if your news content is really worth it, Mr Murdoch, people will indeed pay and your media empire will not crumble and die before your very eyes.
Unfortunately I think that, in all honesty, you still don't get this new media Internet thing, and your advisors are not being helpful in illuminating your understanding it would seem. Otherwise why would you be demanding that headline link aggregators such as NewsNow stop linking to your stories?
The copyright infraction argument being used is a spurious one, linking is not stealing and in fact it is quite the opposite. Instead of reselling your content, Mr Murdoch, headline linking aggregators are pushing hundreds of thousands of readers to your stories, on your servers, every day. Now, if you cannot figure out a way to make money from this influx of readers then that is as a result of shortcomings in your business vision and should not be blamed on the very services which are delivering your readers to you.
There was an interesting post on Twitter over the weekend in which someone mused over whether Murdoch might start turning his attention to bloggers and try closing them down over fair use and news linking next. My immediate thought was it would be a silly thing to do, after all most newspaper journalists use blogs as an information source these days, and stories often break on the blogs first and are then 'discovered' by the newspapers and presented as their own scoop.
Which kind of brings us full circle back to Mike Butcher at TechCrunch breaking the Microsoft meeting story more than a week before the old media hacks got hold of it.
However, I am not quite done with this rant, because there is one more blog that is deserving of a mention here and that is TechDirt which has done a wonderful job in erecting a counter-argument to the news aggregators as parasites position in a story entitled "A Look At All The Sites Owned By Rupert Murdoch That 'Steal' Content" which examines Murdoch owned sites which appear to aggregate content from other sites and rely upon the fair use argument that Murdoch seems to think should be dismissed by the courts.
I'm guessing that at some point soon the tablets will kick in, the sabre will stop being rattled, and Murdoch will realise that cutting his hands off because he has a headache isn't going to solve anything. Just as cutting off Google isn't going to result in a sudden deluge of folk rushing to subscribe to News Corp content when they can simply use Google to find someone else reporting the same news, for free.