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Google Joins The Cable Game, and the Media Game Overall, in a Big Googley Way!

Written By mista sense on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 | 1:07 PM












Google is just a search engine, right? Wrong! Google is really a media company, and should be judged as such.

Search engines give you what you want, whereas media companies give you their opinion, even if, of course, they try to be sly about it. That's a big distinction. And if Google has tried to avoid being called a media company, preferring to fly below the radar of media criticism, but that won't be possible for much longer.

That's the opinion of many, including veteran industry observer Tom Foremski back in 2007 (and as noted, at the time, by The Cable Game!).

And it's also been said by a friend-turned critic, John Battelle, who has been making this argument--Google = Media--for years. Battelle, a co-founder of Wired way back when, is also something of an expert on Google, since in 2005 he published a friendly insider-y history of Google, The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture.

That was just three years ago, but it seems like a lot longer. Since then, Battelle has switched from being a fan of Google to being a critic. Of course, it must be noted that Battelle has an economic interest in such criticism--he's the president of Federated Media, a blog-advertising syndicator that competes with Google's Adsense.

But for those of us who are simply fans of the news, it's fun to see Google getting into The Cable Game in such a big way.

If you take a look at the screen-grab above, for example, you will see that Google has enlisted the services of National Journal correspondent Jim Barnes, to dope out today's Pennsylvania Democratic primary, complete with some cool Google Maps features.

Hmmm. Sounds like Google is moving into the news biz to me! And a great match, because NJ is a cool publication for DC insiders, it's incredibly expensive, like $1000 a year; it's hard for me to imagine that such a business model has much of a future in a world-wide-webbed environment.

In addition, Google The Media Company has signed a content-providing deal with the Associated Press, and seems to have some sort of quiet understanding going with The New York Times, too, to favor NYT content in Google search results.

(TCG presumes that the persistent rumors that Google will simply buy the Times, with the Google equivalent of petty cash, have a substantial basis in fact. Such a purchase would finalize Google's bigfoot arrival into the media elite, sort of the way that Rupert Murdoch's purchase of The Wall Street Journal symbolized KRM's permanent ensconcement in the Establishment, even if, of course, the Establishment isn't all happy about his presence!)

And back to the screen grab, we see not only the Barnes piece on Pennsylvania, but also a button for the Google Channel on YouTube. How long will it take for Google to set up 10 channels, or 100? It will be a media company then, huh?

So come to think of it, that's an issue for conservatives to think about: Google is 1000 times smarter and savvier than most other media companies, but it is also commonly thought of as liberal, even left on political issues. Google did, after all, make a corporate home for Al Gore.

And so what will happen if Google takes over and/or turbocharges the MSM? What will the American media be like then?

More to the point, what will American politics be like in a Googled Era?

Hmmm. Yes, indeed, that's a prospect that makes you go hmmm.

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