Google chief executive Eric Schmidt walked into the lion's den yesterday, speaking at the annual Newspaper Association of America's meeting in San Diego to assure publishers of struggling newspapers across the country that the search giant is their friend.
But these are not good times for newspapers and other periodical publishers, such as The New York Times and eWEEK. The recession is causing advertising dollars to plummet and falling circulation numbers are making traditional publications less attractive to marketers. Online advertising was supposed to replace print display ad dollars, but online ads are dependent upon traffic, and Google is the largest supplier of traffic to newspaper and magazine Web sites.
The issue is fair use of content. Google indexes publishers' Web site content, making it easier for Web users to find the information they're looking for. Some would argue that Google has become the world's largest information publisher, even though it generates very little content of its own.