Quality journalism will triumph: Google chief

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said that he does not expect other companies to follow the internet giant's lead and take on the Chinese authorities. (REUTERS)

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said that he does not expect other companies to follow the internet giant's lead and take on the Chinese authorities.

"Google is an unusual company," Schmidt said on Sunday in a speech here to the annual conference of the American Society of News Editors (Asne), which brings together top US newspaper editors and members of other news organisations.

"The principles of the company were set out pretty early when we went public," he said. "We have the ability to make decisions without a lot of short-term financial focus. I expect that most other companies either don't agree with our principles or, more likely, they agree with our principles but mechanically they can't do it," Schmidt said of the decision to challenge Beijing over Web censorship. "I suspect that you won't see a lot of others but there's always the possibility."

Google's decision last month to stop censoring its Chinese-language search engine to protest censorship and Chinese-based cyber-attacks has not been met with any similar moves from other US technology giants.

Schmidt, whose company has come under fire from some US newspaper editors, also challenged them to take advantage of the power of the internet.

He said the newspaper industry, which has seen advertising revenue plummet and circulation erode as readers consume free news online, has a "business model problem" and not a "news problem".

"You're going to have to run some experiments," he said. "The good news is you have lots of readers and they're spending more and more time looking at your content. New forms of making money will develop," he said. "I am convinced that high-quality journalism will triumph because I am convinced that it is essential to the functioning of modern democracies."

Schmidt said devices such as Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iPad offer new opportunities to the newspaper industry through subscriptions. "Eventually that model should have higher profitability because there's lower cost of goods, you don't have the newspaper printing costs and the distribution costs," he said.

Schmidt said Google wanted to help newspapers make money and that Google News drives traffic to newspaper websites. "We want you to have tools and technologies which will allow you to make a lot of money from those users," he said. "There's every reason to believe that eventually we'll solve this and ultimately bring some significant money into this thing," he said.

 

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