Blog Post

Huffington To Murdoch: Stop ‘Pointing Fingers’

Arianna Huffington used her 25 minutes at the FTC’s How Will Journalism Survive The Internet Age? conference to take News Corp (NYSE: NWS). CEO Rupert Murdoch and his executives to task for their remarks comparing news aggregators to “parasites,” “tech tapeworms,” and “thieves:” “Apparently, some in the old media have decided that it is, in fact, an either/or game and that the best way to save, if not journalism, at least themselves, is by pointing fingers and calling names,” she said. “In most industries, if your customers were leaving in droves, you would try to figure out what to do to get them back.”

Huffington went on to imply that Murdoch wasn’t being exactly forthright in his complaints. Not only do many News Corp. properties aggregate content themselves — but Murdoch could easily stop Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and sites like the Huff Post from pulling his content now if he wanted to. “We link to the Wall Street Journal daily. We have never had a single complaint,” she said. “We drive a lot of traffic to them and they like it.”

As for Murdoch’s discussions with Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) about getting that company to pay it to remove its content from Google, Huffington called it one of a series of “desperate revenue models” under consideration and said she did not believe it would come to pass. She noted that news publishers — like the NYT — had repeatedly delayed plans to even make decisions about introducing paywalls: “Free content is not without problems, but it’s here to stay and publishers need to come to terms with that.”

Of course, the Huff Post‘s free model isn’t making it profits right now, although Huffington did say that the site’s advertising revenue continued to increase.

We didn’t listen in to Murdoch’s talk Staci covered Murdoch’s talk (via Twitter here), which included his usual themes. “To paraphrase a great economist, there is no such thing as a free news story,” Murdoch said, insisting News Corp’s plans to charge will ensure “fair, modest’ fees. He also, according to a Dow Jones Newswires report, had harsh words for sites that he said were engaged in “wholesale misappropriation” of articles. “These people are not investing in journalism,” Murdoch said. “They’re feeding off the hard-earned efforts and investments of others.”

You can watch the discussion live here and here’s a transcript of Huffington’s remarks. We’ll update throughout the day with highlights.

4 Responses to “Huffington To Murdoch: Stop ‘Pointing Fingers’”

  1. william, twitter has a revenue stream? Please do tell how and from what. Revenue does not equal VC funding, mind you. Maybe, you meant another company called "Twiiter"? I don't know that company, nor if they have a revenue stream. You tell me.

    If there were no value to News Corp / Murdoch from Google et al. e.g. including items from News Corp's media outlets in search results outweighing the claimed loss by said listings, it is my conviction that News Corp would have denied Google access to their sources a long time ago due to simple market economy mechanics.

  2. O.K. I will talk about Rupert and the rest….Rupert seems to be saying that the content of the companies that he owns has a value, and that this can be plainly seen by the amount of revenue that google generates off of his content. I think that Rupert does have a point; the content of the companies that he owns has a value and google does generate some revenues from this content.

    I think that most of the tech media has missed the bigger point of all of this; and that is that Rupert’s content does have value and that other companies namely google use his content to generate revenue that they do not share with the content owner. Rupert says that because of this he is willing to not allow google to have his content unless they share the revenue with him. Why do we treat user generated content differently ?
    Clearly it has value. Facebook, Twiiter and Myspace generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from user generated content. The proof and facts are all their to prove the point that user generated content has value; in fact enough value to push Facebook and Twiiters valuation into the billions. Why is it o.k. for Rupert to think that google should pay him a share of the revenue that they generate from his valuable content and not o.k. for users that contribute content that has value and generates revenue not to also ask for and be paid a share of the revenue that they have helped to generate ? There should be no separate standard in place here. As they say, what is good for the goose is good for the gander…So Rupert and Mark…fair is fair right ? Take out your check books and start paying members the revenue that they deserve for creating millions in revenue and value for you and your companies…

  3. Stupidscript

    Not a fan (of either Huffington or Murdoch) but I can see both points. I certainly agree that "aggregators" are profiting without merit from other people's hard work, but I also agree that fighting them is a losing proposition. What bothers me the most about Murdoch doing the complaining, though, is that it is Murdoch doing the complaining. If anyone represents the shady way of getting information out, it's him and his organizations. I'm not even sure if "ethical" is in his vocabulary. But putting that aside, I have always had problems with people who throw a site together using chunks of other people's sites, and then use various skullduggery to gain advertising revenue from that material from unsuspecting visitors.