Google eyeing closer ties to news industry? (Why not just join MSNBC... uh, GNB

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Google eyeing closer ties to news industry?
by Tom Krazit

Google executives have been spending an awful lot of time of late
talking about journalism in the 21st century, and reports surfaced
Monday that it has been thinking about putting its money where its
mouth is.

Two reports--by Fortune and The Washington Post--suggest that Google
has been talking to both The New York Times and the Post about
possible areas of collaboration, or even investment. The Post's Howard
Kurtz says Google has been talking to executives at the paper "about
improved ways of creating and presenting news online," quoting fellow
Post employee and former managing editor Philip Bennett, who is
currently working on analyzing the future of the news business for The
Washington Post Company.

It's not clear what exactly that might entail, but the talks "range
from creating new Web pages to technological tools for journalists or
readers," Kurtz wrote. A Google representative told MediaMemo "This
was an informal meeting, and we're always talking with publishers to
find new and creative ways to help them make money from compelling
online content."

Separately, Fortune reports that Google was approached about taking a
financial stake in The New York Times, giving the idea a serious look
before eventually deciding not to pursue the matter. MediaMemo notes
that Times staffers were told during a meeting today that their
company is also in talks with Google about presumably the same kinds
of collaboration that The Washington Post is kicking around.

Google has always disdained the idea of producing its own content, and
would therefore at first glance seem an unlikely owner of The New York
Times. But Google clearly has a fair amount of money to throw around,
and a keen interest in staying at the center of the world's demand for

Despite all the rancor directed its way from some corners of the
publishing industry, healthy media companies are definitely in
Google's best interest. After all, a stranglehold on searches for the
Web content produced by those companies is part of what gives Google
all that money, and therefore power.
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