EJM Designs Limited Blog

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rupert Murdoch Doesn't Get the Internet

From Sky
News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch has suggested the company's online newspaper pages will be invisible to Google users when it launches its new paid content strategy.

He claimed that readers who randomly reach a page via an internet search hold little value to advertisers.

When asked by Sky News Australia's political editor David Speers why News Corp has not stopped Google from finding its content, Mr Murdoch replied: "I think we will."

(feel free to watch it)

This is quite possibly the most naive thing I've heard about content on the internet - or the internet in general - in a long while. I remember the moment, actually. Perhaps Mr. Murdoch and Ex-Senator Ted Stevens should get coffee. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you may want to review Stevens' Senate floor terribly inaccurate diatribe about how the internet works while arguing against net neutrality. "Series of tubes" ring a bell?

But back to Murdoch. First off, many national news websites publish their news as re-extruded wire news, so the idea that anyone is "stealing" content by reading it is absurd. Secondly, what does Mr. Murdoch see as the reality of the situation, if he really intends to block all content from Google?

For example, let's say this ludicrous plan gains some legs and Fox News gets blocked. Okay. Then you've got to block all Fox affiliates. That's right, that means that Fox19 here in Cincinnati and every other local Fox station would need to be blocked as well. And because local television station URLs are not standardized, unless you've got it bookmarked or memorized, you can't exactly Google it. And then once you get there you have to pay to read the content.

People have, for much too long, come to expect free news on the internet with little hassle. Attention spans are measured by portions of seconds. Taking an entire news enterprise and hiding it from content aggregators and search engines is a death sentence for that enterprise. If someone cannot find your content or has to work harder for that content, especially if most of that content can be found elsewhere for free, that someone will go elsewhere and you and your business will wilt.

I'm not even sure if I can put into words how silly this idea is. Or if I already did.

This is why you hire experts to educate and speak when you do not know how something - especially something as ubiquitous as the internet - works.

And what's the take-home? I'm not just poking at Murdoch for the lulz (and there are many), but all too often I see people making decisions about websites and businesses that are represented by them that are not informed decisions. We are an internet culture, and anything less than a polished, comprehensive web presence does not cut it anymore. If you don't know if you're where you need to be, talk to somebody who does. If you don't know somebody, call us. It's free.

Now have a great day!

Bonus insight: "News Corporation is a major shareholder in BSkyB, which owns Sky News," meaning that if Mr. Murdoch had already had his way, I probably wouldn't have known about it or posted this because Sky would've already been strong-armed into hiding their own content.

Bonus question: When I say Murdoch, what do you think of first: a news mogul, MacGyver's nemesis, or the crazy one on The A-Team?


  1. I probably don't watch or consume the content already, so I won't mind if Rupert decides to block it. I'm sure I'll find the content I'm looking for somewhere else.

    BTW, someone did a remix to a techno beat of Ted Stevens's speech. I liked it.

  2. Daniel, thanks for the comment - I saw that remix and it was awesome.