When Google imagines what the newspaper of the future might be like, it's well to pay heed, so we're catching up with Eric Schmidt's vision of journalism in 2015 from last week's Wall Street Journal. Schmidt, of course, is Google's chairman and CEO.
Schmidt foresees a handheld device that "delivers me the world, one news story at a time. I flip through my favorite papers and magazines, the images as crisp as in print, without a maddening wait for each page to load."
The device, he adds, "knows who I am, what I like, and what I have already read. So while I get all the news and comment, I also see stories tailored for my interests."
This, Schmidt acknowledges, "is a long way from where we are today." It's easier to flip through the pages of the Wall Streert Journal's print version, he notes, than on the Web.
"And every time I return to a site, I am treated as a stranger."
He begins by thinking about struggling newspapers trying to adapt to a disruptive world, today's world, and he denies Google adds to journalism's adaptive miseries.
"Google sends online news publishers a billion clicks a month from Google News and more than three billion extra visits from our other services, such as Web search and iGoogle. That is 100,000 opportunities a minute to win loay readers and generate revenue -- for free."
Of course, traditional publishers are having a dickens of a time trying to figure how to make money from the online display of news. Schmidt grants that.
"We also acknowledge that it has been difficult for newspapers to make money from their online content," he notes. "But just as there is no single cause of the industry's current problems, there is no single solution. We want to work with publishers to help them build bigger audiences, better engage readers, and make more money."
He's got more to say and describes some approaches Google is already testing. PR people need to think along with him and others as to how information will be dispensed on the new journalistic frontier. It's going to be a digital solution, mobile phones included, and Schmidt feels he's pretty emphatic about that. Think along with him.
Drawing by Chad Crowe