European Newspaper lobby: "Google News are thieves". Jings
Closing speeches are an opportunity to look forward to what we do next, and at the EU Commission's conference on media literacy and copyright I, for one, was relieved that our Chairman and film legend Lord Puttnam reiterated, albeit far more eloquently, what I had been proposing yesterday: that copyright in a digital age is worth less than ever before. Content producers had to be prepared to look at fresh ways of getting their stuff to as many people as possible, but finding new ways to pay for it. It was all going so well.
Then the European Newspaper Publishers' Association's Vice-Chairwoman Margaret Boribon took the stage. No wonder Europe's newspaper industry is screwed.
Three points stood out as showing that the European's press's stewards are stuck well behind the digital divide, Boribon neither being prepared to look at fresh models of publishing and content production, nor having any understanding of what opportunity digital media has opened up since the Cluetrain Manifesto.
Firstly she proclaimed that the press only have a window of a few hours a day to maximise monetisation. This reveals that at a systemic level within the European press lobby, "online" is something you add on because you feel you have to, not the core of your news operations. It's worrying if such a lobby is squeezing any cash or time out of taxpayer's money through an entangled and complex EU bureaucracy, as they're quite clearly spending it on the wrong part of the newspaper business: paper. Newspapers now should be about providing wholly free-to-the-user, full feed content on the web, not stuck behind a subscription service (one exception could be the FT and WSJ's financial news subscriptions, paid for out of expense accounts rather than individuals' pockets). More than that, though, they're about providing web-first news - don't make me wait to see your stuff when you finally get around to publishing on paper. It doesn't matter if you don't want to do it that way - your competitor(s) already are and your stubbornness will simply destroy what little chance you have to catch up. When you're producing paper, it's increasingly for those of us who want the colour features, the photography and for those who aren't on the web (yet).
Google News and aggregators are 'thieves'?
She also branded Google News as 'thieves'. Extraordinary. They "steal" her newspapers' content and surround it with their own Google Adsense ads (she made a point of highlighting this evildoing). European newspapers should be thanking Google and sending them an annual Christmas card for the traffic they shove their way. They should also be using Google's unbeatably personalised ads on their own sites, paying a small cut to Google for managing their ad sales department (allowing you to get rid of a few of those employees in the process) and, along with bloggers who cite your stories and link back, you might want to thank them for taking on part of the cost of distributing as well as marketing your content.
The final element of her tirade of falsehoods was that EU structures could and perhaps should be used to reinforce (i.e. give subsidies to support) the trade of journalism and its broken business models, for journalists she represents and who I can only presume agree with her view that the craft they were happily doing last century hasn't changed, and that the public still want their 'expertise' more than some phony blogger or community site. She clearly didn't understand that increasingly we don't trust journalists (or politicians, or bankers) half as much as we trust our friends and long-term relationships with our favourite bloggers. She also hadn't picked up that not only the final product is under threat from regular Joe producers, but the processes of journalism are opening up, too. It's not just Google search that allows us to factcheck the factcheckers. With the Guardian's release last week of the Open Platform we can have access to all the data sources that, traditionally, made up the secretive black book of contacts and information of the old hack.
Until today I had never heard of the ENPA. If its spokespeople and lobbyists continue to peddle such chuff in the future then I will be head of the queue (well, just after Jarvis, McIntosh, Loosemore, Locke, Shirky and most of the people I'm lucky enough to work with) to watch yet another swift redundancy in the newspaper business: the ENPA.