Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dow Jones' digital distribution

From Crain's New York, Via Boing Boing:
Wall Street Journal Dow Jones Calls Google 'Digital Vampire'
First, Please note, that even though The Wall Street Journal was mentioned in this article, it is the Chief Executive of Dow Jones who is making these statements.

The Chief of Dow Jones still believes that news outlets are in competition with Google.

On the surface this seems simply like another swipe at the search giant. And Google is just that: a Search Giant. Sure, they have added features that drive their users to the ads, (which is the real business of any search giant,) but the news publishers really don't seem to grasp, or don't want to grasp, that linking to their news stories is simply one of those added features. Newspapers are failing not because of competition from Google, but also the competition from bloggers, Craigslist, podcasts, AM radio, e-mail, water cooler conversations etc. etc. At least Google always links to the source. Google is simply not the enemy. In fact quite the opposite is true, Google should be the newspaper's best friend.

And so when we look at the best thing to come out of this story:

"Dow Jones is just at the end of developing a new platform from which to conduct business on the Web. Imagine this future: the Journal is one of the many newspapers you might buy in one place and with one payment… Watch for it.

There, friends, is the real news story. The Dow Jones is going to fight Google by createing a... a NEWS STAND! (probably digital)

Many news outlets are going to gloss over the juiciest statement of the news clip. That statement could be plumbed for speculative fiction for months. What is Dow Jones doing? Who is involved? What do they hope to accomplish?

Well, Mr. Hinton is hinting, (groan) that Dow Jones is working to create a unified method of collection and distribution for the content that Dow Jones produces. Here's the rub, if they are trying to create an entirely new service they are fools, and it will fail. No ifs, ands or buts. If they try to compete with Google, Craigslist, Twitter, Kindle and other RSS based technologies they have no hope. However, if they unite with those business to harness that technology they just may have some success.

"The News" is the new MP3. For a long time the only way you could get news was the paper, TV and Radio. Music was the same, except where there was paper, there were CDs. Then, along came the internet: it all went digital. It became easy to get that same content without having to buy a paper, or wrestle with newsprint in your cubicle. It was easier and more convenient.

And it's that convenience that's killing the news business as a whole. If it was ever more convenient and worth the cost to pay an official outlet for news you would have. But Just like the music industry, instead spending time and money to cash in on digital information, they just ignored it until it started eating their profits.
So here is the million dollar question: If Dow Jones is building a digital news stand, how will they do it? Will they partner with Amazon and the Kindle; with Google, Yahoo and Bing? Will they try to put every newspaper website in the nation behind a pay-wall? Will they attempt to charge search engines to link to their content? If so, how will they respond? Do search engines need the content of the Dow Jones partners? (That Link will take you to Dow Jone's partnership page. Take a moment to look at all of the content that Dow Jones owns.)

With all of the content that Dow Jones either directly or indirectly controls they have a lot of leverage. If they choose to bypass the established digital distribution methods and search engines it could get nasty.

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