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You can always count on Rupert Murdoch, the cantankerous News Corp. chairman, for a good laugh and he didn't disappoint this week during an interview on Sky News Australia in which he boldly stated his sites would pull out of Google Search. In fact, he once again accused search engines of outright stealing his content.

Let's Examine The Facts, Shall We

Here's what Murdoch has to say about search engines:

Sky News: You've been particularly critical of what you call 'the content kleptomaniacs' and the plagiarists. Are you particularly talking about Google here?
Murdoch: Well, the people who simply pick up everything and run with it and steal our stories...they just take them.
Sky News: Who?
Murdoch: There's Google. There's Microsoft, um Ask.com. There's a whole lot of people.

If you go to Google News and enter a search for News Corp (or anything you like), you see a list of headlines, which are live links, the publication name and a blurb. You don't see the full story or even a full paragraph. There is just enough there to make a decision and click through. I'm wondering what exactly Google is stealing here.

The Sky News interviewer, David Speers, goes on to ask Murdoch is that not just driving traffic to his web site (which by the way, most sane business people see as a good thing), and Murdoch admits that it's just a headline (where in the previous sentence he suggested they were stealing his content). So which is it, Rupert?

Saying Goodbye to Google

To his credit, the Speers asks Murdoch why he doesn't just block his sites from Google. And Murdoch, unbelievably (at least to me), says, "I think we will." In his view, he sees Google traffic as valueless (or at least not having enough value to make it worth his while to want it).

The Man Is a Walking Contradiction

Ultimately, Murdoch rambles, contradicts, and often makes little sense in this interview. In most instances, he shows a distinct lack of understanding how the web works (yet in his paradoxical way sees the end of print, perhaps with in 20 years, as part of our changing world). While Murdoch has grown a worldwide media empire from meager beginnings, and that's an impressive feat, the fact is that times have changed, and Murdoch can't seem to get his arms around the extent of the change.

At one point, he suggests that newspapers made a mistake by not charging on the internet from the beginning, which may be so, but that ship has sailed. He says, search engines steal his content, yet he admits that they don't. He says that they should charge for content, but he's not sure how to do that. He seems to get that the internet has changed everything, at least on some level, yet he doesn't understand how search engines would help him.

One thing is clear. He wants to return to the days of silos and the fact is that those days are over. Maybe the days of the huge media empires are over too and maybe that's a good thing for us all.

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Last Post by JeffBach
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Google should drop FOX News from its news summary page. FOX News is really Faux News and does not belong on a page with real news. The Murdoch organization is simply an outlet for Murdoch's neo-fascist ideology.

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He wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants people to be able to find his content from Google, but then have to pay him to read it. And he wants Google to pay him for posting his headlines.

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I agree that our man in Oz is quite a character. However, what he brings attention to in his interview is a huge problem in my opinion. As a content creator myself, admittedly a microscopic and hopefully less eccentric version of Murdoch, the problem he discusses is one that all content creators live with daily. The problem is that the internet's "free" business model is a trainwreck for the most part. Yes ad supported sites are supposed to be there. But that is basically trading dollars for pennies and even at that, there are probably less than 100 sites on the internet that can make a living or a payroll from ad sales and impressions. Even if I am wrong by an order (or even two) of magnitude, the internet just does not work as a business platform capable of supporting large numbers of paid workers in a first world economy. It certainly works as an entertainment platform, a distribution platform, and an information platform, but those are good only for consumers, not producers and creators.

One strong argument is that producers are spending too much, they need to learn to live with smaller budgets and productions costs. Which is fine. It is a wealth destroying and job losing issue but one that typically comes along as a trend ages. And media in all shapes is definitely an aging trend.

But even small productions still need to generate revenue, that at least allows the workers to get something out of the deal to pay their bills. Without that revenue success, eventually all that remains is the handful of sites at the top (<.001%) and a myriad of one-off wonders living in their parents basement with zero costs, making content for free. The entire middle space is barren because none of the professionals, not even the small lean businesses make enough to survive.

So yes RMurdoch may be odd, but Google traffic and an internet presence are by no means anything you can make a living on in and of themselves. A money exchange between consumer and producer needs to happen somewhere in this food chain. As I believe he has stated somewhere, "....making a little bit from each of 100,000 customers is still better that making zero from 10,000,000 customers...."

Easy micropayments is the answer in my opinion, with or without our Aussie billionaire. I don't understand why Google has not already taken their "Checkout" product and turned that into the world's best micropayment platform and offered that to everyone on the planet. Content should not be free. Ad revenue does not pay enough to sustain a business ecosystem. The internet needs media buyers and sellers.
Interesting times......
my .02

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