Commentary

Bigger fish

stolen from today

A Google News promotion of the Kaplan Herald on New Year’s Eve

The Kaplan Herald appears to be an equal-opportunity plagiarist.

Forget stories borrowed from the Anchorage Daily News in Podunk, Alaska. Kaplan appears to have moved on to bigger and potentially more profitable targets in the form of the country’s self-proclaimed national newspaper – USA Today.

Thank Google News for promoting this, too.

Google News was pushing a borrowed, USA Today story for Kaplan on Sunday. Google News won’t pick up small, local, news websites like this, but apparently Kaplan has found a backdoor to entice Google News’ algorithms to post its borrowed copy.

There’s money in this for everybody except, of course, USA Today, which paid to report and write the original story.

The long-term implications of this sort of action are significant. News gathering is a time-consuming and costly business. If legitimate news organizations can’t make money to pay reporters, nobody will get much in the way of actual reporting.

There is no knowing what will fill the void if professional reporting disappears, but all indications are that it will be social media.There are a lot of good things to be said for  social media, but much of the information there is even less accurate than the mainstream media, which already sets a pretty low bar.

For Google, as for Kaplan, though, the main thing that appears to matter here is money.

Google News promotes Kaplan. Kaplan appears to run Google ads. Google collects money to place those ads. Kaplan gets a little kickback from Google for running the ads. But the website probably makes far more money for posting the “sponsored links” from “content.ad” on the Herald website.

The per-click value on all of this is low – but if someone is copying all the news on the web and then trolling it for hundreds of thousands of clicks – he or she or it could be making decent money.

This is the game Sarah Palin is now playing on her Facebook page with its 4.4-million followers. Think of her Facebook page as something like a mini Google News. Kaplan doesn’t have access to 4.4-million Facebook followers, so it has to resort to some other technique.

Kaplan appears to have figured out how to play Google News.

“The federal government is putting Lance Armstrong on trial next year for civil fraud and had hoped to prevent him from making his famous argument in court — the so-called ‘everyone was doing it’ defense to explain his use of banned drugs to gain an edge in cycling,” one of its mysterious “Kaplan Contributors” reported for the website on News Year’s Eve.

“The federal government is putting Lance Armstrong on trial next year for civil fraud and had hoped to prevent him from making his famous argument in court — the so-called ‘everyone was doing it’ defense to explain his use of banned drugs to gain an edge in cycling,” USA Today reported on Nov. 28. 

These were the first paragraphs in both stories. The second paragraphs were also the same in both stories and the third and the fourth and etc.

The Kaplan headline was a bit of a mash-up that made no sense, but that might have been done to fool the Google News search robots into grabbing the story from among millions in the tubes and  linking it as “news” even if it was a bit “olds.”

“Choose partly permits Lance Armstrong doping protection at trial,” the headline read

Who knows what the hell that means, but Google liked it. USA today did have a better headline and a photo:

usa today

But a better headline and photo doesn’t help all that much on Google News, which often just runs a headline while selecting your news for you.

 

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1 reply »

  1. Obviously internet content (and all content really) is quickly disposable. So what can you do to create lasting value? And that people appreciate and are willing to support? Lets make a list of things with lasting value. I will start: The Bible, The Constitution, the wheel, electricity, a musical instrument, penicillin. Its a start. I have found personal value in cutting down trees, sawing them into boards, and selling/trading them to my neighbors to improve their homes functionally and artistically.
    Regarding literature here is a list of books with notable value. http://thegreatestbooks.org/
    “News” really has little lasting value.
    What I think might work better is having a more interactive site. I would ask your readers to identify local issues that need to be debated/discussed. Each issue would then be issued its own “forum”. As moderator, you would then edit and select forum comments to be placed in the “head of the class” section. All other comments received would be placed in the “classroom” section. By moderating in this manner, commenters would be motivated to write a comment that made it to the head of the class.
    The forum could then become a vehicle for a more intelligent debate and something that would endure.
    My suggestions for issues: Crime, Economy, State Budget, The Dividend, Oil Taxation…….

    Like

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