Articles

Who gets their news from Google?

In Essay on November 24, 2009 by Dave Winer

Like everyone else, I’m peripherally following the fur flying about Murdoch thinking about whether or not to block Google from searching his news sites. In the background I keep wondering if this isn’t all a misunderstanding. I mean, do a lot of people get their news on Google? That’s a question.

Okay I know I’m not average, so I don’t mean to say my experience is statistically significant. For all I know everyone else is getting their news on Google. But I really don’t think so. Here’s what I think.

I think other sites grabbed most of the flow in news before Google got around to doing news, and such habits are hard to break. I guess that Yahoo is still the leader in online news and CNN and MSN are #2 and #3. After that, there’s a lot of noise. Somewhere down there is Google. In the dust.

People say silly things like Google would be nothing without the NY Times, but it wasn’t until relatively recently that the Times let Google index their news stories. I know this because I had a Long Bet with Martin Nisenholtz that I won more or less by default. Times articles couldn’t show up in the ranks on Google because the Times wouldn’t let them! It was dumb not just cause it meant that Martin lost the bet, but it was dumb because they let Wikipedia become the authority on so many topics that the Times would have done a better job at, imho. And they were throwing away flow, and flow is money.

So I think a lot of this debate is uninformed and generating a bit of heat and not much else. Kind of like a lot of what passes for news these days.

4 Responses to “Who gets their news from Google?”

  1. 90% of the rss feeds I read daily come from google news search

  2. Once upon a time, I used Google News. When I found, Instapaper, Google Reader and then NetNewsWire for the iPhone, I never looked back.

  3. Regardless of whether people read headlines from Google, I’m sure a large percentage of Murdoch’s page views come from one google site or another, which is why it could be a mistake to block them.

    The few times I’ve tried to read news solely on google I always end upclicking through through to the originating article anyway

    Blocking Google only really seems to be to the benefit of other search engines like Bing who might be able to form partnerships for exclusive content indexing, especially if Murdoch’s papers introduce paid content.

  4. I think it might be useful to distinguish between Google News the service (which would include Fast Flip) as a more passive “what’s new?” news consumption activity and the active approach of using Google search to find out about a specific topic. I never do the former and the times I do the latter its usually taking advantage of the long tail. By which I mean, its a topic that’s pretty obscure or specific to a region or profession where I don’t already know the trustworthy news sources so I can go to them directly. In that case, the Times, Journal, and Post are not likely to be in the search results anyway.

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