Insieme alla replica di Google, iniziano a trovarsi in rete articoli puntuali scritti da testate o blog fuori dall’Italia sulla querelle fra Fieg e Google News istruita dal’Antitrust.
First, Google News has always been about highlighting diverse perspectives from multiple sources and then driving new readers directly to publishers’ sites. We don’t display the news stories in their entirety. Rather, our approach is akin to that of web search: we simply show the headlines, a line or two of text and a link to the site – just enough information to make the user want to read the full story. Once a user clicks through to the article, it’s up to the news publisher to decide how to profit from this free traffic. They can choose to charge people to read the story in addition to placing advertisements on their site.
We’re constantly in dialogue with news publishers and users about how we can improve Google News. As we explained to the FIEG when we met them earlier this year, Google News has over 25,000 sources from around the world. All of these news providers–like any website publisher–are in complete control when it comes to whether they want to be found on Google services. So if a news publisher doesn’t want to be found on Google.com, Google.it or any other reputable search engines, it can prevent indexation automatically via a universally accepted Internet standard called robots.txt. Publishers also have a range of other ways of controlling how their content appears (or doesn’t). One such option is for a publisher to continue to appear in Google web search, but not in Google News. In that case, all they need to do is contact us to be removed. In fact, we met with several Italian publishers and representatives of FIEG just this summer to explain these options.
We respect the wishes of content owners, which is why we’ve made it easy to opt out of our services. However, when it comes to Google News, we have far more requests for inclusion than for removal. That’s because publishers understand that the traffic generated by Google News, and services like it, provide valuable traffic: Google News sends over 1 billion clicks per month to news publishers.
Italian competition authorities said Thursday that they were investigating Google, following complaints from publishers that the company was abusing its dominant position on the Internet to deny them a fair share of online advertising revenue.
Carlo Malinconico, president of the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers, said the group had complained to the antitrust authority about a “lack of transparency” in Google’s search engine and Google News service, which compiles blurbs of news stories on the Web and provides links to them.
Because Google does not disclose the criteria for ranking news articles or search results, he said, newspapers are unable to hone their content to try to earn more revenue from online advertising. Ad revenue on the Web is directly proportional to the size of the audience, which is heavily influenced by search or Google News rankings.
From Carlo Malinconico:
“Publishers provide much of the content on the Internet, but they get nearly nothing for it,” he said. “This is not fair, in our opinion. Our feeling is we lose more than we gain.”
If newspapers execs are scratching their heads about why more people involved with the internet aren’t stepping up to defend their viewpoints, it’s attitudes like in the quote above. I don’t have the stats — I’m not sure if the stats are out there — but I doubt news content is most of the web or even “much” of the content on the web.
Certainly I know from having covered the search space for so long — and having talked with thousands of people over the years at conferences — that news publishers are well in the minority of those publishing online. When news publishers talk about their supposed special needs or abuses by Google, they alienate any sympathy by non-news publishers who would love to have the special treatment they get. Again, my Google’s Love For Newspapers & How Little They Appreciate It piece goes into more depth about this.
The investigation follows a complaint by the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers about a lack of transparency in how Google handles Google News. Association President Carlo Malinconico tells the NYT that his group wants more information about the ranking process so that papers can adjust their online content accordingly. The main allegation: The association says that if publishers don’t make their stories available on Google News, they also don’t show up in Google’s search results. “Publishers provide much of the content on the Internet, but they get nearly nothing for it. This is not fair, in our opinion. Our feeling is we lose more than we gain,” Malinconico says.
Fine. And publishers in the United States have made similar points. But it seems like overkill to get the government involved, considering that Google is making information about the ranking process available to no one, so it’s not as though one news source has an advantage over another. And Google does say that publishers can have their results show up in Google web search and not Google news, as long as they contact the company.
“We respect the wishes of content owners, which is why we’ve made it easy to opt out of our services,” the company said in a blog posting. “However, when it comes to Google News, we have far more requests for inclusion than for removal. That’s because publishers understand that the traffic generated by Google News, and services like it, provide valuable traffic.”
Italian publishers claim Google won’t run their content on its search engine unless it also appears on its news pages, an “extremely penalizing condition,” the regulator said. The probe will examine whether Google’s actions have consolidated its position in brokering ad sales, the regulator said.
“Those who create content don’t reap the fruits of their work,” said Carlo Malinconico, chairman of the Italian association of news publishers that represents the country’s leading dailies including Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica. “We’re seeking to shed light on this phenomenon at a very difficult time for the news publishing industry.”