Tag Archives: eric schmidt

What I was told when I asked about blogs joining the PCC

Following recent coverage of the PCC’s Baroness Buscombe’s Independent interview where she possibly mooted the idea of the PCC regulating blogs, I thought I would share some correspondence I had with the PCC recently over the same issue. In a nutshell: blogs can already choose to operate under the PCC anyway.

I asked Simon Yip of the PCC whether a hyperlocal blog could opt in to the PCC Code and self-regulation. These are his replies:

“They can decide to adhere to the PCC Code if they choose. To fall formally within the system overseen by the PCC, they would have to subscribe to the body responsible for funding the Commission.

“I am afraid I am unable to answer the question of cost, as it depends on the circulation of the newspaper [sic]. As you can imagine, it would vary from publication to publication.

“For any publication to subscribe to the Code of Practice, the publication would contact Pressbof.”

So there you go. If you can afford to pay for a shiny PCC badge, then you’re welcome.

And of course, that’s the main hurdle to the idea of PCC regulation of blogs: few blogs could afford to pay, and even fewer would want to. Meanwhile, there is no financial incentive for the PCC to recruit blogs (nor is there any incentive for bloggers – yet – in joining an organisation whose 2 main purposes appear to be to stave off statutory regulation and to mediate disputes to avoid legal costs).

Whether there is financial incentive in trying to attract public funding to do so, or to use blogs as a common foe to do the same is, of course, a separate matter.

What is much more worrying than this blogging regulation sideshow is the apparent ignorance demonstrated by Baroness Buscombe in talking about Google and the news industry’s business plans, described earlier on this blog by Matt Wardman.

The most curious quote for me from her SoE speech is this one, following on from a paragraph which attempts to conjure up the now almost pantomime-like Monster Of Google.

“I urge you to recall the recent words of Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO: “We use as our primary goal the benefit to end users. That’s who we serve.” So there you have it: the end user matters, not those who create content in the first place.”

Is she saying that serving users above content creators is a Bad Thing? Weren’t newspapers supposed to serve their readerships as well? Or did that change while I wasn’t looking?

Google’s Schmidt to news execs: You’re great. Join us.

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.