President Reagan's "tear down this wall" address may well have been the Great Communicator's most remembered words. Perhaps not as historic, but noteworthy nonetheless was a BBC interview with Biz Stone this past week where he criticized news mogul Rupert Murdoch similarly for lack of foresight in today's Web 2.0 business climate.
Murdoch recently said that search engines could not legally use material such as headlines in search results. His position that Google and other search engines were stealing access to his news stories (see "Pirate" Murdoch Claims Search Engines Arrrhhh Stealing His Material") is not only short-sighted but goes against everything new media stands for - namely, "openness!"
Microsoft, on the other hand has been in early discussions with the News Corporation, the media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, about a pact to pay the News Corporation to remove links to its news content from Google’s
search engine and display them exclusively on Bing (according to a person briefed on the matter who spoke anonymously
because of the confidential negotiations.)
According to a NY Times report, "if such an arrangement came to pass, it would be a watershed moment in
the history of the Internet, and set off a fierce debate over the
future of content online."
In response to Murdoch's contentious posturing, Stone told the BBC, "The future is in openness not [being] closed."
"They (Rupert's newspaper syndicate) should be looking at this as an opportunity to try something radically different and find out a way to make a ton of money from being radically open rather than some money from being ridiculously closed," he told an event organised by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) in London.
While Twitter is addressing its own issues of monetization and has committed to rolling out a commercially fee-based service yet this year, Stone did assert that "Twitter will always be free to everyone, but you will be able to pay for an additional layer of access to learn more about your Twitter account - get some feedback, some analytics, become a better 'Twitterer'."
So if Murdoch seeks dialogue with his readers, he needs to realize that 'the people' are the media and that the crowd-sourced news that bubbles up to the surface today needs to be open and free. Whatever capitalistic gains he thinks he may achieve in the short haul, it will not withstand the long term. Legacy newspapers need to take heed of the new business model set down by the founders of Twitter who have forged a new path as to how we receive and disseminate the news.
So, Mr. Murdoch, here we are some 22 years later. While being mired in the past will surely diminish the future effectiveness of your newspaper empire, the sentiment expressed back then could aptly apply today. Heed wisely the words of that sage president (who by the way - was of the same political persuasion as yourself), when he announced to the world, "if you seek prosperity...come to this gate!...open this gate!...and tear down this wall!"