News Corp’s Murdock says WSJ and The Times may block Google Search bots

I’m not comfortable with the continued demise of newspapers. I feel most folks don’t understand the real loss of paid local journalists and local classifieds. Granted, CraigsList seems to be replacing many local classifieds, but we’re not getting the by-product benefit of local articles about very small community events and issues, written by people in the community…and some nice “sale” ads of interest scattered around it.

I’d like to see an electronic version of local papers somehow survive…I’m betting on Steve Jobs and the much rumored Apple Tablet. (I’m hoping he’s pitched to these papers a similar digital store concept as he did to music labels for iTunes+iPod.)

So, am I a fan of serious content producers charging fees for content? Yes! Required subscription to a site? No!

I’d prefer to use a micro-payment method from Paypal or Google Checkout…where I’m charged a penny or three for various content that I’ve just requested. I like to consume my news and information on an RSS reader on my iPhone while waiting for something…anything really.      🙂

So, I was disappointed to see this statement from News Corp Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch:

Rupert Murdoch says he will remove stories from Google’s search index as a way to encourage people to pay for content online.

Murdoch Evangelises to Content Producers

Murdoch Speaks to Content Producers

He has been evangelizing about the value of content to the entire Internet Ecosystem…and he’s right. We all turn to the Internet, mostly via Web browsers, to find content that has been published…whether it is a recent product for sale or a great “How to” article. Content IS King! And I really, really want newspapers and other traditional media outlets to figure out ways to monetize and profit from this new digital distribution and consumption model. So…I applaud an easy, transparent, fast and inexpensive way for me to pay for content I care about. I LOVE that iTunes makes it easy to purchase music that I could find myself for free…but the price equals the convenience, so I pay.

But…I rarely seek out articles or content, rather I subscribe to various news feeds and blogs that fall in my personal interest ‘radar’. And as I consume a blog or product announcement, I find “other related articles” and referenced content that I would never have found that way. MOST of my NYTimes or WSJournal articles I have read in the past year were ‘discovered’ this way.

So, here I am all ready to pay for their content. So, I just need to find something that interests me enough to buy it (even for a penny). It would also help if someone I “trust”, such as a weekly blogger I follow, thinks it is a great article. But Murdock thinks he needs to block Google from finding it on his content sites? That makes NO sense to me at all. If the articles aren’t easily found, they won’t be analyzed, commented, supported and trounced by the masses. So, I likely won’t ever hear of the original article, so I won’t try to access (and PAY!) for it, either.

Yes, I applaud the unknown and upcoming change where content producers end up in the driver’s seat. However, I don’t think it will succeed without ease of finding it. With thousands and thousands of webpages published daily, I believe search engines will continue to play a critical role, be it computer driven or human driven (ala, facebook networks or twitter tweets). I don’t see how blocking search bots will help any client monetize their web content going forward.