Murdoch-Bing Deal – Treating News Like Oil?


News Corp is reported to be pulling out of Google in exchange for money. The move – if it happens – represents a misunderstanding of the nature of news on the web, says Peter Judge

Search engine commentator says that the rumoured deal between Murdoch’s News Corp and Microsoft’s Bing is a bid to create “an OPEC for news”. But how practical is it for anyone to expect to control that flow?

It’s very easy to see Murdoch as an old-guard paper-and-video veteran who simply doesn’t “get” the Internet; who thinks it’s possible to turn back the clock and make people pay for content, or if not that, then at least to control where they get that content from. 

The rumoured deal, under which News Corp would apparently remove its content from Google and put it online at Bing  has been widely reported and criticised, although some commentators such as the Guardian, see it as simply Rupert Murdoch weighing up the options and deciding that whatever other sites might think, Google’s traffic isn’t essential.

Microsoft on the other hand has plenty of money to boost Bing, and this would look to be one way to do it. If the only way to get items from the Wall Street Journal or the Times – or maybe even Fox News – was through Bing, then people might well go there in preference to Google. 

But the fact is, that won’t be the case, and it never will be. As search engine veteran Danny Sullivan points out neatly, at the excellent Search Engine Land there are massive numbers of routes to content. If the Financial Times had tried to keep this Murdoch-Bing story off Google, says Sullivan, he would have heard of it through tweets and read it

News simply does not flow like oil, and any belief that its flow can be controlled by plumbing methods is false.

It is of course, possible to dictate the news by other means, but search engine deals won’t do that.

If the deal goes through, it will indeed produce extra revenue for News Corp, and it might boost Bing’s search engine share significantly. But it doesn’t change the game, because it’s only dealing with one channel we get our news from.

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