The piece, penned by UC-Berkeley journalism professor Neil Henry, points the finger at Google and other successful Web corporations as the culprits in the downfall of traditional media. To make up for such travesties, Henry essentially asks that Google subsidize American journalism by contributing part of its megaprofits to groups such as the Society for Professional Journalists.
"Is it possible for Google to somehow engage and support the traditional news industry and important local newspapers more fully, for example, to become a vital part of possible solutions to this crisis instead of a part of the problem?"
Corporate-sponsored journalism. Gee, that sounds like a winner, doesn't it?
More painful than this suggestion, however, its the essay's whining, "You stole my lunch money!" overtone. That approach needs to go. Many newspapers have of free will and sound mind offered up content on the Web for free for more than a decade. To complain about the fact that someone took, linked to or otherwise pilfered those pages and pages of juicy, well-written, unguarded stories is -- well, ridiculous.
Newspapers and other "old media" need to give up the rant and put energies where they belong: in finding a way to make strong, investigative journalism profitable on the Web. No, Web advertising isn't the moneymaker right now that print advertising is. But it will be someday. When newspapers go the way of the 8-track and the mimeograph, JCPenney, Kroger and Wal-Mart will still need a way to reach shoppers. It will take time -- and creative common enterprises -- but the price those retailers pay to advertise on the Web will increase.
It's going to get worse before it gets better. But wouldn't it be nice if "old media" went down with some dignity intact and not a large amount of bellyaching?