The subject of our daily news digest, its ownership in the public domain and its value has long been up for debate. It’s no secret that news corporations from the BBC to News International have all struggled in the last decade to maintain control of their content, and effectively charge for it.
Clearly the Internet has offered us “free” access to news in real time, and various search engines like Yahoo, Google and now Bing have been able to point us all in the direction of the content we’re after. The announcement that News International were considering severing ties with Google, or that Microsoft had approached them to offer payment for search listings, depends on which papers you read.
However, only allowing their news group content to be searched through Bing surely puts the control firmly back into News Corporations hands. For some time, news agencies have been searching for a way to make profit from online portals. Finally charging for access to their news group content could be the missing revenue generator they’ve been looking for. Regardless of the online backlash currently circulating, it is unlikely there will be any negative implications on News International’s revenue streams.
More importantly how does this effect you and I? Outside the boardrooms of big business, we use search engines on a daily basis, and the challenge in this day and age is less about access, and more about aggregating the news that is relevant to us. So will this strategic move pave the way for more effective content filtering? If so, we could be seeing the start of a new era in search, one that operates more like a traditional library, ordered by subject matter. I for one think this might actually be one boardroom deal that benefits the general public, and brings a little more commercial realism to the intangible world of “free” information.