I’m growing tired of waiting for genuine words of insight to come from Google CEO Eric Schmidt when it comes to the news industry. An hour ago he made a speech to the Newspaper Association of America’s annual convention in San Diego, spouting the usual stuff about how great newspapers and journalists are, and providing gems of advice like ”Try to figure out what your consumer wants” and advertising is king.
As for paying for content, he suggested a future of news based on
“three layers of revenue for news content itself – a free model where the majority of readers would converge, a subscription model where readers would pay to access news stories and a micropayment model where news outlets could charge pennies for access to specific topics or content.”
Well there you go.
But he also suggested a future in which the news organisations work with Google to provide a personalised experience for readers (I would link to the WSJ report which included the quote I was to use, but both disappeared behind a paywall as I was writing this – video will appear here, however).
It’s easy to see how this would work. Marry Google’s personal data on users (location, browsing habits, words used in emails, friends, times of access) and its processing power with a well tagged database of news and you could serve up highly personalised journalism, not just in terms of content but in terms of timing and delivery platforms (“Sarah hasn’t been online all day so she won’t know about the story that broke at 9am, and she is checking her social network now so that’s where she needs it”).
It would of course make Google the iTunes of news, and I’m not sure anyone’s ready to let that happen, least of all the NAA.
UPDATE: Steve Outing makes a more developed argument on what Google should do to help news.