Newspapering for Dummies, by Google

NOT by Wiley Publishing

NOT by Wiley Publishing

 By Labor Day of this year Google will have published the book Newspapering for Dummies. It’s for those that Google CEO Eric Schmidt says are “too dumb to figure out how to run their newspaper.” He talked with Doug Page, who podcasts for News & Tech magazine (formerly Newspapers & Technology.)

 Before you decide that “them’s fightin’ words” consider that newspapers probably initiated the rounds of name calling, and really, the point of his arrogance is undoubtedly to generate conversation about the book – which, of course, is what’s happening right here. And probably a whole lot of others places too by Monday morning.

In the News & Tech article Schmidt said that Google had started to invite newspaper executives to provide some chapters and then concluded that “the dumbest Google employee is smarter than the smartest newspaper executive.”  Some exceptions were made. Rupert Murdoch and Sam Zell will contribute.

Beyond all the contrived offensive comments, a book about publishing a newspaper by folks who’ve never published a newspaper isn’t that bad an idea, really. I bet there will be some great tips and resources within. A big part of the problem with newspapers’  transition to multimedia, is the print-mindedness and the traditional slowness to action of so many of its industry leaders. Another huge stumbling block is newspapers’ long-standing unwillingness to promote beyond their own publications. Having someone who hasn’t picked up those bad habits to say the way it should be done might just be what the newspaper industry needs.

If only some newspaper executive had announced a book about Search Engining for Dummies, told News & Tech that they wanted to team up with Google but the dumbest newspaper exec was smarter than any Google employee so the paper was going it alone. I’d be blogging about them now. SIGH.

Oh, and for those who didn’t realize, this News&Tech article was a satire written by Doug Page.

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3 responses to “Newspapering for Dummies, by Google

  1. I’ve always contended that the smartest people at a newspaper aren’t necessarily found in the newsroom.

  2. I’m no defender of newspaper publishers, but this is like letting the kid who eats nothing but ice cream give you advice about how to run the store. He’ll known plenty about flavors and cones, but won’t know squat about how the ice cream gets to the store, how to keep it cold, how to rotate stock and how much it really costs to pay the bills every month.

    Find the publisher on Main Street in some little town who has been keeping the business afloat for the last 30 years – that’s the person I’ll listen to.

  3. Well, J, in theory I agree. But that kid who eats ice cream might not care about how the ice cream has been getting to the store traditionally. And it might be better that he doesn’t know. He might have a better, newer, quicker, and less costly way of delivering it and storing it that no one in the ice cream store business has ever thought of before – and perhaps he will also have ideas about better ice cream. He might, for example, point out that frozen yogurt is more popular, and then there are some great new frozen fruit bars, that that old codger wouldn’t consider because after all he’s been selling ice cream for 30 years and why change? He and his ice-cream-loving friends might even have an idea for an ice-cream-only stand in another location that could go over gangbusters.

    Frankly, I’d sit down with both and then make my own decision. The problem is that too many are only listening to that publisher on Main Street. Who may or may not be in business next year.

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