It’s like telling an old joke at this point: Didja hear the one about how newspapers are seeing their cultural relevancy and readership declining thanks to the Internet, and decided to blame a search engine?
Newspapers across the world are convinced that Google News is somehow ruining their digital traffic by listing their stories and featuring the first couple of sentences, or even just the first sentence, in the article. It is a dearly held belief that rather than click through, all these customers who so desperately want their news instead read the first few sentences and then go visit the dirty parts of the Internet, because everybody now has the attention span of an overcaffeinated puppy, instead of just not finding their reporting compelling.
They’re so convinced, in fact, that, as we’ve previously reported, France is suing Google to make them pay for the first couple of lines of newspaper stories they link to. And now Brazilian newspapers are so convinced of this, they’ve yanked Google participation en masse.
According to the BBC:
Newspapers accounting for 90% of the circulation in Brazil have abandoned Google News. Brazil’s National Association of Newspapers says all 154 members had followed its recommendation to ban the search engine aggregator from using their content.
The papers say Google News refused to pay for content and was driving traffic away from their websites.
If this sounds familiar, it is. Copipresse, the Belgian association of newspapers, actually took Google to court to force them to either delist their stories or pay a $4 million a day fine. Google yanked the stories post haste… and then Copipresse had to go back to Google, apologize, and accept being listed on the site.
It’s true that the Internet is killing print, but newspapers cling to this weird, fetishistic belief that it’s Google, specifically Google News, killing them and not failing to acknowledge there’s more competition for readers in general. Running a newspaper and making it profitable in the digital era is possible… but newspapers seem unable, or worse unwilling, to admit that the problem lies with their refusal to acknowledge that the world has actually changed.