Knight Center
Knight Center

JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Newspapers in Brazil say their boycott turned Google News “deficient,” reiterate request for payment



The National Newspaper Association of Brazil (ANJ) said the decision of its members to opt out of Google News en masse has made the service “very deficient” because it no longer has “the content with the highest credibility and quality in the nation.” However, ANJ reiterated its disposition to negotiate with Google a financial compensation for the use of the newspapers’ content.

In light of the international repercussions of the story published last week by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas on the Brazilian newspapers’ decision to opt out of Google News, ANJ issued a “note of clarification” on Monday Oct. 22 describing the attempts to reach an agreement with the internet search giant.

ANJ said that before encouraging its members to abandon Google News, it “sought a dialogue with several global internet companies, trying to negotiate solutions for a partnership that would allow for the monetization of the use of content through digital media.”

The decision that led to the Brazilian newspapers' boycott on Google was preceded by initiatives that tried to minimize the negative impact -- according to ANJ -- on newspapers’ websites of Google's use of their headlines. For example, ANJ's "Project 1 line” tried to reduce the newspapers’ content displayed on Google News to just one line, instead of the four to five lines normally shown by the aggregator.

“The project could not move forward as a result of a technical problem: contrary to what Google had ensured, the reduction of the number of lines displayed affected radically the ranking of the search results,” explained ANJ.

Although confronting the internet giant could appear to be a mistake, ANJ’s strategy is clear: to reduce the value of Google’s services by denying en masse its access to the main Brazilian newspapers’ content. ANJ's more than 150 members represent over 90 percent of daily circulation in Brazil.

“Without the content with the highest credibility and quality in the nation, the search results on Google News are today very deficient,” said ANJ.

Worldwide repercussion

The Brazilian newspapers' unprecedented boycott was highlighted by several media outlets around the world, such as the Guardian, BBC News, and CNN Mexico. Tech news website Ars Technica said that Brazilian newspapers are not the only ones that have demanded payment from Google for the use of their headlines, but they are the first to organize themselves and confront the company. “France is now in disagreement with Google on the same issue,” the site said.

Mashable noted that the news on ANJ’s action occurs as several international news organizations, attracted by the growth prospects of Brazil’s growing and increasingly affluent middle class, have increased their investments in the region. It cited The New York Times and Financial Times' investments in the Brazilian market.

TechDirt ran with the headline "Brazilian Newspapers Apparently Don't Want Traffic; They All Opt Out Of Google News." Writer Mike Masnick said the newspapers seem to assume that without Google News people will go directly to their websites, and that those who search for news on the aggregator don’t click on the articles. “Those both seem like very big assumptions that are likely to be entirely incorrect,” Masnick said. “If I were one of the 10% of newspapers smart enough not to opt-out, I'd be going all out to try to steal that traffic from the big newspapers.”

Digital strategist Robert Andrews added in an article published by Paid Content that Brazil’s middle class is growing more digital and wealthier, and the country has moved from being an emergent market to become a real market. In that context, “if Google cannot get publishers on board, it may be missing out on some of the Latin America boom opportunity.”



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