This morning Wired’s Epicenter blog is running an interesting piece: Five Things Google Could Do For Newspapers. There’s some pretty interesting stuff in there, but my fear is that all of the suggestions are merely handwaving unless papers deal with the real problem – they don’t actually print enough real news. Newspapers made bets in the 90s and into the 00s that served (essentially) to divest themselves of the business of publishing the news, in many cases preferring wire services for the majority of news content. What (many) newspapers have become are reprinters of wire copy padded by a myriad of opinion, editorial, and marginally ethical fluff “journalism”.
What Google should do is to set up a fund to help struggling newspapers re-staff their news divisions and a deeply discounted consulting wing to help owners – who have made the bad decisions that got us where we are today – understand that their only real commercial value springs from factual reporting.