Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.
While most of us are all for openness, the public editor of the New York Times points out that there are “Cracks in the Wall Between Advertising and News” – partly because of shrinking advertising revenues for news operations and partly because the consolidation of the industry means those revenues are more important than ever – the goal is to make shareholders happy; informing the public has to come second.
Emerging advertising models have contributed to the dismantling of the wall by harvesting information about readers and using it in ways that traditional broadsheets would never dream of. Why shouldn’t journalists follow suit? Well, they have ethics, for one thing…
Here’s a case where good fences make good journalism- just bad business partners in an era when advertising relies on a not-so-cuddly Cookie Monster to find its audience.
Lawrence Lessig makes some interesting points in his Wired piece on the Google suits. A 1909 law that gave copyright holders (and the publishers with whom they make agreements) “the exclusive right to control copies of their works” didn’t anticipate that the only way to index digital material (or, in fact, to read it) is by copying. He urges Google to stay the course.
A rich and rational (and publicly traded) company may be tempted to compromise – to pay for the “right” that it and others should get for free, just to avoid the insane cost of defending that right. Such a company is driven to do what’s best for its shareholders. But if Google gives in, the loss to the Internet will be far more than the amount it will pay publishers. It will be a bad compromise for everyone working to make the Internet more useful – and for everyone who will ultimately use it.
This truly is a tipping point because the implications – all of them – are enormous.