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Sam Zell Not Getting Much Blogosphere Love For His Blabberings About Google Stealing From Newspapers

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When Sam Zell, the soon-to-be new owner of Tribune Corp., parent company of the LA Times, was quoted as saying this on Saturday, we called him a ridiculous old man:

"If all of the newspapers in America did not allow Google to steal their content, how profitable would Google be?" Zell said during the question period after his speech. "Not very."

And the consensus from the blogosphere this weekend? That he's a ridiculous old man who will probably bankrupt his company.Jason Calacanis,

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Zell's statement is so wrong on so many levels that you have to wonder if this guy has any idea what he bought, not to mention if the reporters at the Washington Post have any reporting skills and knowledge of the Internet.
If Sam Zell is the future of the newspaper industry then the newspaper industry is dead--you heard it here first.

Mathew Ingram, /work:

Either Zell is trying to be deliberately provocative, or he’s a complete ignoramus. Number one, Google makes virtually nothing from Google News — since the search engine doesn’t sell advertising on any of its news content pages — and number two, even if all the newspaper content from all the major newspapers were removed from the search engine, Google would no doubt still be happily making billions of dollars.

Doc Searls, Weblog

Earth to Zell: If you don't want people to read editorial anywhere but on paper, don't put it on the Web, or embed code that tells search engines not to index it. (Trust me, Google obeys it.) But don't expect whatever you gain in paid-archive sales to exceed what you sacrifice in lost authority and advertising sales on exposed content. With locked-up archives, searches for subjects your papers have covered well will exclude results that will exclude that coverage. Your papers need to adapt to a world where readers look increasingly to the Web as the place to find useful editorial. If you must monetize your editorial online, make your Web practices reflect your paper ones: charge for the news and give away the olds.

More after the jump, including a vote of support! Sorta.


Rex Hammock, rexblog

I’m from the school that sees no logic in that statement. To me, it seems obvious that Google drives traffic to news sites — I can’t read the stories on Google News.
Pramit Singh, MediaVidea
Sam Zell might have made his billions in the real estate business, he knows exactly what the RIAA people knew about the net, nothing.
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Paul Bryant, the Reluctant Blogger
at face value, I think it's reasonable to say that this is not a man who spends any significant time on the internet.
Dave Winer, Scripting News:
It could be that Zell is brilliant, and is saying something that simplifies the truth to make a bigger point, and he doesn't mind if you think he's inept if some people get the bigger picture -- which is he thinks of the Internet and Google as being the same thing, and you know what -- I bet a lot of other people do too, and they have a point. Like the public radio stations, maybe we're fooling ourselves if we think we're not writing for Google, as they are fooling themselves into thinking they're not creating for NPR. We want to cling to our theory that each of us is independent of the others, but what if he's right, and it's us vs them. What if his friends in the newspaper business decide they want to compete against us directly. What if my pointers into the LA Times and the NY Times stop working? Or what if he offers you a job to come write for his company so your pointers do work? Permalink to this paragraph So stop and think a bit before you stop listening, and try to get beyond your impulse to dismiss him just because he said something that's technically inaccurate. He could be smart as a fox.

photos by Sonny I. LaVista for LAist