Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Google: We’re Still Not in the Newspaper Business

Just to be clear: Google still doesn’t plan on bailing out the New York Times or any other paper. As a buyer, at least.

CEO Eric Schmidt reiterated that position, which he’s already made a couple times this year, in an interview with the Financial Times. Though Schmidt did allow that Google (GOOG) had at least mulled the idea at one point, which will be old news to MediaMemo readers:

FT: Would you ever consider buying a newspaper; they’re cheap right now?

ES: We’ve actually looked at this and we’re trying to avoid crossing the line between the infrastructure and technology that Google provides and the content that our partners provide. There is a line and we’re trying to stay on our side it.

Hey, why does that sound familiar? Ah, that’s right.

I’m told that while Google execs have brought up the notion of snapping up distressed newspapers using its huge cash hoard within the past year, those talks have never gotten serious. It’s hard to see how they could: Google has emphatically stayed out of the content business so far, and it’s unclear why it would change direction now–and invest in a shrinking industry at the same time.

Schmidt and the FT also recovered other material that’s been out for a bit, including the search giant’s talks with the Washington Post (WPO), and presumably, the New York Times (NYT), about some kind of collaboration. In this case, Schmidt refers vaguely to “online news versions that somehow address the immediate needs of people and for which advertising works better.”

And while he was at it, Schmidt didn’t hold out hope for rekindling a  Yahoo/Google search deal. Which is good, since Yahoo (YHOO) and Microsoft (MSFT) look like they’re close to getting something done: “…never say never in business. Carol [Bartz, Yahoo chief executive], of course, is a very, very able and strong CEO and my sense is that she’s very focused on getting Yahoo back to its former glory, which is a great project.”

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