@ CMS2010: Jimmy Wales: Papers Should Ditch Columnists, Google Is Naive

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Not sure on what basis the Wikipedia founder pontificates about the future of news media, but every disruptor deserves his say, so Jimmy Wales took the opportunity at MediaGuardian’s Changing Media Summit…

On Google’s China problem: Wales likened Google’s position up ’til recently (agreeing to censor results in order to make in-roads) to how businesses regarded “apartheid South Africa” in the 80s – a reluctant embrace, but involvement nonetheless. “I know Larry and Sergei and they’re a little bit naive. They are idealistic and very, very wealthy – and quite young. They don’t need another few billion from China.” So now Wales, whose Wikipedia there was blocked for a time, ‘very strongly supports Google” in what may be a principled retreat from China.

What’s eating traditional media?: “There are things communities do better than the traditional model … The best of the political bloggers are easily the equal of the opinion columnists at the New York Times (NYSE: NYT). I don’t see the added value there and question whether a newspaper should be paying large sums of money for that anymore. The traditional newspaper publishing cycle doesn’t really work that well online. In the newspaper business, we’re selling the stale bread, which is the print paper, and giving away the fresh bread for free (online).”

Wrong kind of cutbacks?: “The basic nuts and bolts of traditional journalism is something we’re not seeing being replaced by communities. Large segments have basically been cut out – that’s a mistake because there is a demand for that information. A lot of the moves that have been made have been cuts in the wrong areas.

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The quote from me is slightly out of context, as it could easily be read as criticism of Google when I was actually offering the highest praise. I was saying that people are sometimes cynical about Google, but I think Larry and Sergei really mean it. If that makes them naive, then good for them.

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