Founder of the news site newser.com, Michael Wolff is also the media columnist for Vanity Fair magazine and the author of “The Man Who Owns the News,” a biography of Rupert Murdoch.
Do you think the big digital companies might begin to produce news?
I would find it really surprising if either Google or Yahoo got into the news business. Everything I know from a complete cultural standpoint is: (a) they don’t want to be content creators, and (b) they have no feel for or interest in the news business.
Which is not to say they don’t have something to add to news because what they do is in many ways transformative. Their technology gives you the wherewithal to be in contact with all news any time any place — the ultimate news dream.
What if they saw an opening they couldn’t resist, though, with the big newspapers tanking?
I guess the question is, Could they be guilted into going into the news business — and tech people in my experience don’t really respond well to guilt. There had been talk in the past about Google buying the New York Times — being guilted into buying the NYT. It’s … you make so much money, why don’t you do something that good and earnest people would think is worthwhile? I would be deeply shocked for that to happen.
Why wouldn’t they hire journalists, editors, to make the decisions the tech people can’t make?
These people are different than we are, and they’re proud of it. They don’t believe that has real value. The last thing you want is to be hired as somebody they don’t really believe in.
The more interesting question form my point of view is, do they buy something? That I don’t know, that’s a different kind of economics … It kind of means, can we marry our core talents to somebody else’s core talents and produce value plus? If
Google were to give any news organization its traffic, that’s the way to create a category killer.