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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Brazilian newspapers leave Google News en masse



Brazil’s main newspapers abandoned Google News after the world’s top search engine refused to compensate them for the rights to their headlines. The mass rush started last year when the National Association of Newspapers in Brazil, or ANJ, began recommending its members to opt out of the service.

ANJ’s recommendation was followed by all of the 154 newspapers that belong to the organization and account for more than 90 percent of the country’s newspaper circulation. Google argues the company doesn't need to pay for the rights to use headlines because Google News benefits newspapers by redirecting large volumes of user traffic to their websites.

The controversy fueled one of the most intense debates during the Inter American Press Association’s 68th General Assembly, which took place from Oct. 12 to 16 in São Paulo.

On one side of the debate were defenders of news companies’ authoring rights like German attorney Felix Stang, who said, “platforms like Google’s compete directly with newspapers and magazines because they work like home pages and use content from them.”

On the other, Google representatives said their platform provides a way to make journalistic content available to more people. According to Marcel Leonardi, the company’s public policies director, Google News channels a billion clicks to news sites around the world.

Leonardi criticized ANJ’s stance and, making a comparison, said it would be absurd for a restaurant to tax a cab driver for taking tourists to eat there.

Despite the arguments on both sides, IAPA’s general assembly came to an end without any new agreements between ANJ and Google. For Brazilian news companies, the number of visits that arrive from Google News has not been enough to justify the use of their headlines without receiving payment.

“Google News benefits commercially from that quality content and is unwilling to discuss a remuneration model for the production of these materials,” said ANJ president Carlos Fernando Lindenberg Neto in an e-mail interview with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

“We concluded (…) that staying in Google News was not helping us grow our digital audiences. On the contrary, by providing the first few lines of our stories to Internet users, the service reduces the changes that they will look at the entire story in our web sites,” Lindenberg said.

Google declined to comment for this story.

The debate has its ambiguities since search engines bring new online readers to news outlets' websites. However, the loss of online traffic caused by the newspapers’ departure from Google News hasn’t made ANJ change its position since, Lindenerg said, “Google News’ presence in the Brazilian market is small. We believe (the loss of traffic) is an acceptable price to protect our content and brands.”

Despite the decision, newspapers’ websites will continue to come up in Google’s regular search service. Lindenberg admitted their stance will affect general search results since Google’s ranking takes into account whether a site appears in Google News or not. Google is the number one search engine in Brazil with a 92.15 percent market share, according to a 2011 survey from Serasa Experian, which focuses in digital marketing.

In response, Google’s Leonardi fired back during the IAPA debate by saying that “if the reader is satisfied with the small blurb (we offer), that means the story did not call his attention that much.”

For Google, the goal is to reach a solution where both parties win – newspapers and news aggregators – instead of condemning sites like Google for not paying news outlets.

ANJ members, however, currently favor the other side of the argument. ANJ’s Lindenberg said the “ideal model would be to have both parties sit at a table and recognize the importance of each other in the value chain.”

Long-standing discussion

The debate between ANJ and Google has been a long one. On Dec. 2010, both agreed that Google News would display just one line from each article, which would attract readers’ attention and lead them to the original link. But the measure was not enough to increase the number of clicks at news websites, Lindenberg said. “With newspapers’ departure from Google News, most internet users that looked for news content in Google News began looking directly in newspapers’ websites,” he said.

The issue has its precedents, too. In 2010, the Associated Press also abandoned Google for the same reasons but returned seven weeks later. Nevertheless, this is the first time a newspaper association mobilizes and recommends its members to leave the news search service en masse.

One thing to take in mind is that, even though all of ANJ’s newspapers have left Google News, many of their Internet portals are still listed by the aggregator, such as the Internet portals of organizations like Globo or UOL. In other words, it’s not possible to search for content published by their print versions, but the material that was published by their respective sites can be found.

For example, if a user searches the term “Dilma” in Google News and he specifies he only want results from newspaper O Globo, a message will come up saying “The search - Dilma source:’O Globo’ – did not match any news results.” But if he searches the same term with only the word “Globo” – which would include all the other media properties of the company – he would find results that lead to the company’s Globo.com portal.



14 comments

 
Tom Powers wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

I at least applaud Brazil for

I at least applaud Brazil for having guts. What it will all mean in the long run, probably nothing.

 
Kenneth Ford wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Search Engine Optimization

Providing the paper's headlines in the Google News return should have produced a measureable traffic increase, or decrease to the paper's websites. That information should be used logically to determine whether or not there should be a compensation for the use of the content. Google is used to content producers begging for their attention, and paying for the right to return on the top of the page, not expecting to be paid for content distribution rights. I can't comment on the Brazilian's move without the traffic stats, but my gut feeling is that the papers will have hurt their own traffic stats with this move.

 
LiveIntent wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

newsletters advertising

I believe that when the numbers are examined by the Brazilian newspapers internally, they will find that they have made a mistake in this policy direction.

 
Mobe wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Google News

"Brazil’s main newspapers abandoned Google News after the world’s top search engine refused to compensate them for the rights to their headlines." Compensate? Google News provides free traffic and the newspapers are monetizing their websites in order to make money online.

 
Micheal Shore wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Comment

I send the Google point. As Google is like library - making news available to more people and then redirecting them to the news site. It is a useless point raised by Brazil’s newspaper.

 
Fons Tuinstra wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Google in Brazil

The fight between Brazilian newspapers and Google has also occurred between Google and the French-language newspapers. Those newspapers got a court order banning Google from the usage of headlines. Google then eliminated the newspapers all together from their search engines, and the newspapers started screaming, since they lost a lot of traffic.
After that the parties found a solution, and I believe the same is going to happen in Brazil.

 
jamesbreiner wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Brazilian newspapers leave Google

Isabela, Your article was very interesting, and I was hoping that it would include a piece of data: what percentage of web traffic of these newspapers, on average, comes from Google? In the U.S. newspapers get around 30% to 40% of their traffic from Google.
Also, is there an alternative search engine in Brazil that provides significant web traffic to the newspaper sites?
thank you for the news. It was picked up all over cyberspace.

James Breiner, Tsinghua University Global Business Journalism program

 
Marcos Barraza wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

It´s only the headlines

Google only publishes the headlines and one or two lines of the main article. You click the headline and it takes you to the main article in the newspapaer´s web page. It increases the number of readers. And then, it´s up to the newspaper to retain the reader. Maybe if they tried original content, unbiased analysis, local news, etc. instead of just publishing exactly the same report from Reuters or whatever.

 
Guest wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Newspapers are idiots.

There is no shortage of content online. This will only help smaller content publishers like blogs and smaller or online only newspapers get all the traffic.
You can't fight the change in people's habits. People want the best content from every site. Not all the cruft any one news site might have in addition to the good stuff.

 
Flavio Etrusco wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Kudos, Google!

I hope this stupid decision by the ANJ helps the alternative media in Brazil gain some traction. I'd hate indirectly giving money to the ridiculously conservative Brazilian mass media.

 
Arthur wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

This is the Internet

The whole power of the Internet is links. You get readers because of links. Readers follow links to get to the content. If you destroy the links to your site, you avoid tapping into the power of the Internet.

People PAY to create links to their site so their site will thrive. Stupid people destroy links to their site without understanding their site will wither. Links are VALUABLE, perhaps the most valuable commodity of the whole Internet -- and these fools have thrown it all away.

 
Pankaj Garg wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Why not let the news editors

Why not let the news editors tell Google which one line to show in Google news.

 
José Antonio Meira da Rocha wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Muito bom para médios e pequenos jornais

Excelente notícia para médios e pequenos jornais, que terão mais destaque.

A "grande imprensa" não entendeu mesmo a internet, e está morrendo por isto...

 
TheIeltsSolution wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Comment

Hope the conflict will be resolve soon.

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