Matteo Pasquinelli on Tue, 7 Apr 2009 22:22:14 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Google dubbed internet parasite by WSJ editor

[ re-enter the parasite. /m ]

"There is no doubt that certain websites are best described as  
parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the internet."

Google dubbed internet parasite by WSJ editor,28124,25293711-7582,00.html

COMPANIES that aggregate mainstream media content without paying a fee  
are the "parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the  
internet" and will soon be challenged, Robert Thomson, the Australian- 
born editor of The Wall Street Journal has warned.

"The Wall Street Journal breaks more stories than any other newspaper  
in the world." - Robert Thomson, editor of The Wall Street Journal

Thomson, who was holidaying in Australia last week, said companies  
such as Google were profiting from the "mistaken perception" that  
content should be free.

"There is a collective consciousness among content creators that they  
are bearing the costs and that others are reaping some of the revenues  
-- inevitably that profound contradiction will be a catalyst for  
action and the moment is nigh," he told Media.

"There is no doubt that certain websites are best described as  
parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the internet."

Thomson, a former editor of The Times who was appointed editor-in- 
chief of Dow Jones and managing editor of The Wall Street Journal last  
May, said consumers must understand why they were paying a premium for  

"It's certainly true that readers have been socialised -- wrongly I  
believe -- that much content should be free," he said.

"And there is no doubt that's in the interest of aggregators like  
Google who have profited from that mistaken perception. And they have  
little incentive to recognise the value they are trading on that's  
created by others."

Thomson said Google benefited from aggregating content from The Wall  
Street Journal and other newspapers.

"Google argues they drive traffic to sites, but the whole Google  
sensibility is inimical to traditional brand loyalty," he said.

"Google encourages promiscuity -- and shamelessly so -- and therefore  
a significant proportion of their users don't necessarily associate  
that content with the creator.

"Therefore revenue that should be associated with the creator is not  

In contrast, Thomson noted Dow Jones' Factiva information service paid  
licence fees to its content providers. "The model is entirely  
different and certainly proper," he said.

Thomson argued aggregators "need to be honest in their role as  
deliverers of other people's content". And as those sites were  
exploiting the value of mainstream media content, "we have to be at  
least as clever as they are in understanding the value of our own  

He said "quite a few newspapers are ready to have a serious discussion  
about whose content it is anyway".

Thomson's comments came as Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News  
Corporation (owner of The Wall Street Journal and The Australian)  
revealed last week News was considering an investment in a Kindle-like  

E-reader devices aim to provide a mobile platform on which online  
newspapers can be effectively displayed.

Meantime Thomson said it was "amusing" to read media blogs and comment  
sites, all of which traded on other people's information.

"They are basically editorial echo chambers rather than centres of  
creation, and the cynicism they have about so-called traditional media  
is only matched by their opportunism in exploiting the quality of  
traditional media," he said.

Thomson also said it was incumbent on content creators to make their  
own websites compelling for readers. While the Journal earned online  
subscription revenues, Thomson said few US news groups had yet to  
learn how to make money online.

"Papers should look at what their assets are -- is it their people?  
What is their role in any given society? And how do those assets play  
on the web? So how do we create an experience for readers using those  
assets which is clearly a premium experience?

"And if you think that through starting from first principles rather  
than from an existing business view, there are opportunities. But I'll  
leave it to others to figure out what they may be."

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