"Mr Murdoch,Tear Down This Wall" Infers Biz Stone

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!"

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Nov 23, 2009
by Anonymous

Google is the Censor not Murdoc

This is so hypocrital asking Murdoc to tear town the walls so the Google vandels can enter and pillage the empire. Read my lips, Google cencors the Internet. Google turns in human rights activists. When has Murdoc done this I ask.

Nov 24, 2009
by Anonymous

It's all about the monetization

Seems to me Murdoch doesn't understand the premise behind social media or transparency. The idea that Google is "stealing" his content via indexing is one thing, but to say out of the other side of your mouth that you want and exclusive deal with Bing only shows your plumbing: you just want the money, one way or the other.

If Murdoch was standing on principle, he'd block ALL search engines from indexing his domain's content. Because his content is so good that it will monetize itself with direct web traffic, right?

Probably not. Nixing your content from Google's returns is new media suicide, and I'm sure Murdoch has someone with a clue screaming that into his ear 12 hours a day. But Rupert wants money, and it shows. That's fine and well, but it's clear to anyone in the social media/new media space that Murdoch, as accomplished a tycoon as he is, doesn't at all understand the new rules.

Sad, because he's making a fool of himself. I can only hope that the money being bandied about between Murdoch and MS doesn't become intoxicating and lead to an exclusive deal, because as you say Ron, it will be a fairly compelling (and ugly) precedent with respect to media/content ownership rights.

Nov 24, 2009
by Anonymous

It's 2009, not 1989

Very interesting. I saw a short note about the Google vs Bing thing in a Swedish news paper today and didn't believe my eyes. Have Murdoch & Co any idea about which century this is? Scary and amusing at the same time. I really hope this is some kind of joke... or something like that...

Nov 24, 2009
by Anonymous

News Corp/MSN vs Google

Two Part comments to the question

Part 1
Not really. Murdoch wishes to change the Internet playing field to his advantage by bringing in Googles main competitor. The first wishes to dismiss the growing idea that content is free & the latter wishes to gain a greater piece of the cake away from Google.

Its a risky strategy , that is, more than likely will find a severe backlash in the mid to long term from Internet users across the global. Many will simply live without Murdoch content, find a tecnological loop - hole to still have access or simply go via other search engines - away from Microsofts Bing - for what they wish. Lastly, this will open a door for new search specific engines, which will be very small but specific that may eat away at Bing.

Its a case of two OLD SCHOOL models joining forces to attenmpt to cancel out the unstoppable NEW FORCE. What both old school cultures do not see that the new forces are CONSUMER driven & the winner will be thoses that go with the flow & not against it

Part 2
This is a strategical short term view (with an incorrect initial focus from News Corp) with a battle looming in the horizon, News Corp/ Microsoft (OS) realise that if they dont blow up tye model here they will lose everything...they are gaining time, allies & scooping up public opinion to their camp. Those that go over will have giving in to the "dark forces" (excuse the SW term).

As said, the focus & the the driving evolutionary force comes from the consumer - you & me & everyone looking into a PC or mobile - we have the power to make old into new...& Google is placing its chips on this strategy t& will allow the final consumer to DECIDE & not be "bullied", manipulated & scared off by the "old business model" attempting to holding onto its power which is shifting elsewhere. And holding on means by all means, I do not count out political pressure to implement Internet Neutrality breaking laws.

The battlfield is set....

Nov 25, 2009
by Anonymous

free is not always free

I personally believe that this discussion around R Murdocvh attitude is deeper than just MS vs google. these news generated from Murdoch group news company are written by journalist who get a salry for that. This being said we get if for free, so for us value is 0 even if there is work behind.

I am strongly against Murdoch proposal as well as alliance with Microsoft but at the end we need to have a model which doesn't destroy too much value in the value chain just because it is free for users because at the end we will pay for that in one way or another.
If we want that free remains free we have to think a bit more how the poeple producing this free content get decently paid and if it makes sense to get it for free. will we all accept that our job is delivered for free just because it has to be free?

I agree as well tha t competition is healthy and having different search engine is a good way to have better view on hte net. I am really in favor of small players because for microsoft and Google have to be in hte bag as the first one made a hold up on hte means and the second is even more srary as it makes hold-up on the content. May be we don't know yet but big brother is hidden behind google....

Nov 25, 2009
by Anonymous

Its not gonna happen

I think this is yet again a spastic twitch of "old media" that can not handle the rapidly changing environment on the internet. They simply don't understand what is going on, but all they see is their income declining and that makes them do strange things.
What they are doing is trying to reverse what they have done to themselves. Magazines and newspapers have been sharing more and more information online to compete in the online news environment, and now suddenly they want to turn this around, make it all closed and charge people for it.
That is not going to happen I think. You simply cannot offer something for free and then suddenly start charging for it. Especially not with commodities like news and magazine articles, that users/readers can find elsewhere as well.

Microsoft's attempts to get the magazine results out of the Google engine, might turn out to be a good move for them. But from the magazines point of view I don't understand it. Why would you connect with BING which only has 20% of the search market when you can also be found by Google who has nearly 70% of the search market. Just to get a few paying readers, I suppose, but I don't see it happening to be honest.

Nov 25, 2009
by Anonymous

A media dinosaur

Murdoch is holdover from the last generation of media. They have bought their own hype that they are the be all and end all of news. Unfortunately with the astromonical number of other news outlets available on the web, if he actually follows through with this I think it will be disastrous for him.