Media giants grouse about Google, blog parasites

There’s nothing new about news and publishing conglomerates crabbing about Google and other search engines stealing their mojo. But a piece on AdAge.com cataloging the media barons’ usual complaints reads in a very different way in this new cynical post-Wall Street monopoly era.

Ad Age’s Nat Ives writes:

Major media companies are increasingly lobbying Google to elevate their expensive professional content within the search engine’s undifferentiated slush of results.

Many publishers resent the criteria Google uses to pick top results, starting with the original PageRank formula that depended on how many links a page got. But crumbling ad revenue is lending their push more urgency; this is no time to show up on the third page of Google search results. And as publishers renew efforts to sell some content online, moreover, they’re newly upset that Google’s algorithm penalizes paid content.

“You should not have a system,” one content executive said, “where those who are essentially parasites off the true producers of content benefit disproportionately.”

That a lowly blog or media critic can earn the same “link juice” as News Corp. or Random House is the great equalizer of the Internet. That these media empires believe they should have some greater authority on Web search engines than pro-am content producers belies the same oligarchic, the rules-don’t-apply-to-us attitude that incites torches and pitchforks amongst the rabble. Gaming the system — whether raising one’s search engine relevancy or raking in shady derivative trading profits — as Jon Stewart’s thrashing of CNBC “Mad Money” talker Jim Cramer proved, is still manipulating the marketplace.

And it’s the same public getting screwed by big business at every turn that is increasingly leaving the homogenized traditional media for broader voices — indifferent to the print, broadcast or online medium in which the information is delivered. Stop blaming the puny online barbarians at the gate. It’s your content. Too often, for all your resources and influence, it ignores alternate perspectives, it lacks context and scrutiny, it promotes undeserving voices, and, on online content, there are frequently no links to verify or explore the information further.

The next invitation-only big media hob-nob with Google’s Publishers Advisory Council is scheduled to take place April 30. Expect the yammering to continue.

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Wendy Norris

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