Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

A Very Short List: Publishers That Have Actually Told Google to Take a Hike

Publishers love to gripe about Google. But they almost never, ever, do the one thing that could put their money where their mouth is: Tell the search giant to leave them out of its results.

If you follow the media-versus-Google meme, you know this instinctively. But here are some numbers that spell it out: Of the 25,000-plus sources cataloged by Google News, “less than 100” have opted out of the index, says Google’s Josh Cohen, who runs the service.

It is theoretically possible, of course, that more publications have opted out of Google’s main search results than out of the narrower Google News product. But I doubt it.

I also doubt that we’re going to see a significant number of publishers opt out of Google (GOOG) in the future, despite noisy saber-rattling from media outlets–most notably the Associated Press and News Corp. (NWS), which owns this site.

That said, if we are going to see some movement, it will be in the next few months. The AP, for instance, has a licensing deal with Google that runs out in the very near future.

I chatted Friday with Cohen (see video interview below) about the negotiations, and he gave me the polite equivalent of a “no comment.” But from what I can tell, the two sides remain pretty far apart on just about every point of contention.

Some other items of note from my conversation with Cohen:

  • A reminder that even publishers that put their stuff behind a paywall don’t want to cut themselves off from Google, which is absolutely true. Just ask News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal, which has gone through considerable effort and expense to boost its presence in search results.
  • Even though Google is already integrating “real-time” search results from Twitter (with Facebook and MySpace on the way), those results have not worked their way into Google News, and Cohen and his team are still trying to figure out the best way to do that.
  • I got an English-language explanation of the “Living Stories” project Google is working on with the Washington Post (WPO) and the New York Times (NYT).

Apologies: I still have not mastered vagaries of audio for Web video, or at least for our Web video publishing system. You’re probably going to want to turn the volume down during the introduction in this clip and then turn it back up once the interview starts.

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