There’s always something contestable, and perhaps detestable about the world’s favorite search engine, Google. Constantly in the news for one thing or another, one can’t help but think that this quintessential California business is trying, like Apple, to take over the world. Recently they were in the news for users’ privacy issues and are now back with an interesting slant to a modern press dilemma –how are the public getting their news these days?
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The answer to the above, unsurprisingly, is online. But, this is no easy area to navigate. Recently Brazil’s press has said ‘No’ to Google using any headlines from the country’s 154 national members, meaning that the Google news can no longer draw on Brazil’s headlines for it’s own use, because as the country’s National Association of Newspapers have publicly said, “Google News refused to pay for content and was driving traffic away from their websites,” according to a BBC article.
It seems that after a two-year experiment with Google News, Brazil’s broadsheets have decreed that their readership is down. To be fair to Google, this is a global problem of collective attention deficit, inundation of information and a confused marketplace as much as anything else. The fact is, as the historic magazine Newsweek can attest to after closing its doors for almost one hundred years, people don’t’ want printed material now. There’s no money in it. But, it’s still a new frontier for online journalism. People don’t want to pay for that either – just ask Rupert Murdoch. The problem is a complex one, but the worry is that aggregates like Google News are all people really have time for these days – just a headline and nothing else. Beyond the realm advertising manipulation and corporate sponsorship, news organizations need to find a way to better cater to the sad reality of the public’s need for instantaneous gratification and limited attention span.