Google and the New York Times: Walking Down the Aisle?
This afternoon a post from Real Clear Markets came up on Techmeme, asking “Might Google Buy the New York Times?” The question is so ridiculous I almost didn’t want to respond but at the same time I can see how some people would think this is a good idea. New York Times would gain the advantage of gaining access to a large fund of capital in much the same way Dow Jones gained a ton of money in the recent deal with Murdoch. However there is one major difference, between News Corp and Google. I’ll even give you a hint it’s in the name. News Corp is a news organization, Google is an internet company.
John Ellis argues:
“Third, there’s all that content. Google is a company that could actually make money repurposing the cultural and culinary coverage, to pick just two categories, of the New York Times, across both its Internet and mobile platforms. An acquisition of The New York Times would greatly enhance the richness and reach of Google News. And should Google choose to invest in expanded news and cultural coverage, it could greatly enhance the richness and reach of The New York Times. ”
While I won’t disagree with the point here that Google could make money from the content and it easily could throw buckets of money at The New York Times. The companies just aren’t a fit for each other. For one, the personalities at each of the respective companies is vastly different. One is a young, rather wealthy internet company, the other is a much older, established newspaper company. Where do the two meet? Also, Google works best a collector and distributor of information not creator of information. They have two main products, Search and AdSense. Both of which don’t create information, rather they harvest information. The few services that Google run that create information, YouTube, Blogger, Orkut, etc. are purely user generated. The New York Times is vastly different from that world with good reason. I just don’t see The New York Times being able to fit into to either Google’s plan or even fit into the company.
I somewhat agree with the premise of what Mr. Ellis is saying in his article, however I would argue that it is not even possible, much less likely. I do think that it would be a bad deal for The Times. I don’t see where the companies would be able to meet in terms of having a similar goal. Google indexes information, The Times creates it. While these are similar they are also vastly different. Also Google News currently already indexes New York Times stories, so what would they gain by having direct access? Google currently indexes my little blog, with under an average of 500 hits a month (as of this writing, please go up) every 30 minutes or more often. I don’t see that Google is particularly slow with indexing pages. That isn’t to say Google News is perfect, it isn’t by far and needs a lot of work, but buying The Times, won’t help out Google News.