Will the Internet kill newspapers, and is Google holding the pistol? That's this morning's big theme here in Cringeland. But before I get into that, I'd like to make a modest proposal.
From this day forward, let's lose the term "newspapers." That's like calling all-electronic publications like InfoWorld "newspixels." Paper and pixels are just delivery mechanisms, and not mutually exclusive ones; no publications worth reading publish only on dead trees any more (or if they do, they aren't long for this world). We need a new collective noun for this, like News Gathering Organizations (NGOs) or possibly Sloppy Drunks With Keyboards (SDWKs).
[ Google isn't making any friends in media circles, as Cringely explains in "Newspapers vs. Google: Eat the worm" | Stay up to date on Robert X. Cringely's musings and observations with InfoWorld's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]
Many publishers have proposed that the only way to save newspap -- err, Sloppy Drunks With Keyboards -- is to erect a pay wall its readers would have to climb over, presumably dropping some loose change along the way. In theory this would fund the reporting that SDWKs do (because online advertising alone isn't cutting it) and keep publishers swimming in caviar and Cristal, because that's why they hire SDWKs in the first place.
Thus we come to Rupert Murdoch, who has talked about charging for online access to his gaggle of right-wing publications and news networks for well over a year.
According to a TV interview with Sir Rupert (video) conducted last Friday by David Speers of the Murdoch-owned Sky News, the aging media baron is considering blocking Google's access to his online empire after all his sites adopt a pay wall, as the Wall Street Journal has done. That would (in theory) make it invisible to the Big Friendly Search Giant. Per PaidContent:
Here’s how Murdoch replied when Speers asked why he hasn’t blocked sites from being seen by search engines: "I think we will. But that's when we start charging. We do it already with the Wall Street Journal. We have a wall, but it's not right to the ceiling. You can get the first paragraph of any story but if you’re not a paying subscriber, you get a paragraph and a subscription form."