Google to News: Go Mobile or Piss Off Your Readers

At the closing keynote for the Newspaper Association of America annual conference, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt attempted to inspire journalists and editors to make a leap of faith into their interactive, non-print-based futures.

Google wants the print industry to buy into his advice, as news editors join together “mad as hell” against the search giant for stealing revenue that they say is rightfully theirs.

“I would encourage everybody: think in terms of what your reader wants,” said Schmidt at the keynote. “These are ultimately consumer businesses and if you piss off enough of them, you will not have any more.”

In order to move themselves forward, he said, newspapers will have to get used to the idea that they are not just generators of trusted, professional content, but also aggregators of the new kinds of information the Web has enabled — Wikipedia, blogs, images and online video.

Among his recommendations: take advantage of mobile technology as a distribution mechanism, beginning to think of stories not as happening on a given day, but as continuous and “living.”

Google has been criticized by some newspaper publishers in recent weeks, who worry that Google benefits more from traffic to news stories than the newspapers themselves. Robert Thompson, editor of the Wall Street Journal, called Google a “parasite”, branding such websites as “tech tapeworms in the intestines of the internet”. The Associated Press has also said that it will crack down on copyright violators who do not legitimately license its news content but still benefit from internet traffic.