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Dyson at Large: Google should ignore calls for aid from regional giants

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Here’s some friendly advice to Google’s UK boss Ronan Harris as he prepares to address whats predicted to be a ‘tough audience’ at the Society of Editors’ conference in November.

First, think twice before accepting any arguments – most recently made by the News Media Association (NMA) – that publishing giants like Newsquest, Trinity Mirror and Johnston Press deserve a subsidy from your growing global treasure chest.

Why? Well, let’s start with profits, and while they’re often reported in different ways they all still seem to be making sacks of money:

And as for the subject of executive pay, well …

Speaking on behalf of such publishers, David Dinsmore, the vice-chairman of the NMA, pleaded for them to be “appropriately rewarded” by the likes of Google (and Facebook) for their contribution to social networks. He said:

“None of the growth in ad revenues is coming back to the publishers who invest billions across the globe in that content creation. News publishers are seeking a fair reward for the considerable value they add to the digital ecosystem.”

Well I’m sorry, Mr Dinsmore (also the chief operating officer for Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, publishers of The Sun, by the way), but why should such publishers get any handouts when they seem so keen to exploit the markets of smaller local publishers in serious financial trouble?

Yes, I’m talking about you, Newsquest, launching the weekly Oldham Times, and you, Trinity Mirror, launching an Oldham edition of the Manchester Evening News, while administrators still search for a buyer-come-rescuer of what was the independent but now closed Oldham Chronicle.

Back to Mr Harris at Google: do you really think that any handouts to publishing giants will be spent on securing proper journalistic coverage of the growing numbers of UK towns that have been left without a newspaper title, online or in print?

Or do you not suspect that such charity could well end up simply helping such groups to suck the commercial juice out of remaining markets in a harsh plc world that long-ceased caring about local news?

Surely it would be far better for Google, Facebook and other potential benefactors to make journalistic grants to truly entrepreneurial, independent news organisations, such as:

I’m sure HoldtheFrontPage readers will have a dozen more examples of set-ups which deserve assistance from Google and co before publishing giants are considered.

Please feel free to list them in your comments here.

6 comments

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  • September 20, 2017 at 12:05 pm
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    For a change, I can’t find one word here that I want to argue about. Nice one, Steve Dyson.

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  • September 20, 2017 at 2:22 pm
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    It’s not ‘aid’, it’s payment for stories plundered from media websites.
    I’m beginning to wonder whose side you are on, Dyson.

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  • September 20, 2017 at 2:35 pm
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    Chapeau monseiur. That’s nicely said Mr D .

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  • September 20, 2017 at 4:58 pm
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    I’ve lost count of the number of stories I’ve seen on websites run by the media giants which are little more than copy and paste jobs from the website of a rival paper. The first few paragraphs may be altered, but that’s about it. Do they pay the rival paper for using the bulk of their copy? No. Sometimes – but not always – they recognise the basis of the original story with the words “he told the Bugle”. Then they have the cheek to tell Google and Facebook that they want paying for copy which, in many cases, they didn’t write in the first place. Sorry, I’ve no sympathy for them.

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  • September 20, 2017 at 5:01 pm
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    Let us stop and think. If regional newspapers were to get “aid” from Google how long would it be before Google and its ilk start dictating what should go into newspapers.
    “Aid” is another word for “control” in the longer-term.
    And why we are about it how many newspapers can hold up their hands or put hands on heart and swear they have never swiped a story from somebody’s else’s website without paying for it.
    As a freelance before I retired I became fed up with newspapers swiping my stories from other sites without paying me for it.

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  • September 21, 2017 at 10:49 am
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    The regional groups are hardly negotiating from strength. They need Google and Facebook etc. far more than G&F need them; most of their digital traffic comes from social media, not from their own websites which are, in most cases, pretty shoddy and increasingly infested with intrusive ads and videos which no one wants. Not to mention that a huge proportion of said traffic is merely pinched off Facebook in the first place. It’s a dog-eat-dog free-for-all, a thieves’ kitchen, which the regional media groups helped to create in the first place by their eagerness to give valuable content away for nothing. They can hardly complain, having historically set the financial value of their product at zero, if the social media giants pilfer it at will.
    And I had to cross my legs to avoid p*ssing myself laughing at the line about “publishers who invest billions in content creation”. I don’t know who that bloke is, but he should be on the music halls. Priceless.

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