Rupert Murdock would prefer to be invisible to search engines.
Finally, something we can agree on, him and me.
In a recent Sky News interview, News Corporation chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch announced that News Corp websites would be removed from search engine indexes.
I had to read that twice to make sure I’d got it right.
According to Scrooge McMurdoch, people have been getting information without actually paying for it and that cannot be allowed to continue. "They shouldn't have had it free all the time," he said. I can certainly sympathize with one of the world’s richest men, I can. Poor man, sitting up there in his ivory tower, smoldering over how the rabble are robbing him blind penny by penny. One wonders how the impoverished tycoon can afford to pay the salaries of his various olive pitters, toadies, ass kissers, and food tasters (and at his age, food taster is most likely the matronly nurse who pre-chews his meals into semi-digested pap).
Murdoch’s not kidding. He actually intends to remove FoxNews, The Wall Street Journal, and other NewCorp sites from search engine indexing, effectively making his news organization invisible to the likes of Google, Ask.com, Yahoo, and even Microsoft’s Bing (show of hands, how many of you use Bing? No, really, speak up).
The crux of his complaint being: people are getting free stuff and that’s just so damned infuriating. Murdoch intends to go to a fee based revenue stream. Fee based. He wants readers to pay a subscription fee to read his online news sites. One wonders if he’ll attempt to resurrect the rest of the 1990’s Internet while he’s at it. I hope he does, I sort of miss the old CompuServe forums.
Murdoch feels that there are too many news sites competing for too few advertising clicks and he wants a return to traditional newspaper revenue streams. It never occurred to him to make his sites more interesting, so that people who surf in from aggregators might, you know, stick around and read other stories on his site. Murdoch, who through his conservative pundits and mouthpieces, bashes the current American administration for “socialism” and who champions the beacon of capitalism at every turn, doesn’t want to compete in the internet marketplace for consumer dollars – he wants it all for himself. The hypocrisy is almost poetic.
Here’s the really funny part, if TV was my primary source of news, you’d have to hold a fucking gun to my head to get me to watch Murdoch’s Fox News. But, I don’t get my news from TV, almost never. I, like an increasing number of folks from my generation and damned near everybody in the younger generations, get my news online. Even if I’m sitting in front of a TV with the news on, I’ve got a computer in my lap and I’m reading the news online, gathering more in-depth information than a sound bite of TV news can provide. I tend to run down side alleys when a story interests me, I tend to look for additional information, background stories, related news. And because I use Google as my primary news aggregator – I end up on Fox News sites at least 30% to 50% of the time. In fact, according to Google, the search engine giant directs billions of readers to news sites every single month. Billions. I don’t have hard numbers, but based on some simple analysis at least 30% of those billions of redirects are to NewsCorp sites.
That translates into millions of readers directed to his news sites per month.
Murdoch sees this readership as worthless and something that adds no value to his bank account.
He says that statistics show readers who come in from Google are unlikely to look at the rest of his media. They read the story they’re interested in, and that’s it, back to Google and on to the next story somewhere else. Murdoch regards this kind of reader the same way the owners of Wrigley Field regard people who watch the Cubs play from the rooftops of the adjoining apartment buildings, i.e. bloodsucking parasites.
He seems to think that enough people will actually pay subscription fees to read the WSJ and Fox News online.
Sure. Rupert, sure.
Here’s the thing, Rupert Murdoch owns a very, very large percentage of the conservative media. A large percentage of biased conservative media which is about to become invisible to internet search engines, which means those sites become invisible to the internet. Which means that his sites become invisible to an increasingly larger number of readers.
From the minute Murdoch patches his HTML headers to force Google to ignore his sites, he joins CompuServe on the Island of Misfit Toys.
To an Information Warfare guy like me, the implications are staggering.
It’s likely that the entire bias of internet news media will shift far to the left.
Usually the demise of a multibillion dollar corporation is caused by a cumulative series of poor management decisions over a period of years. Rarely does it hinge on one single catastrophic decision, as I suspect this will be. It’s likely that this step will do more to silence FoxNews than anything the Obama Administration can do.
And the staunchly conservative Murdoch will have no one to blame but himself.
I’d call that poetic justice.