Murdoch’s proposed Google ban is a threat to academics too.

newspaper_iconSeveral content publishers, especially newspaper, are discussing moving away from free online access to paid content.  In a recent interview, NewsCorp owner Rupert Murdoch went so far as to threatened to block Google from accessing his properties like the Wall Street Journal and Fox News. Let me say at right now that I am a big fan of Google and use many of its services.  Several newspaper publishers have been in a long standing row with Google over its aggregating content to display on its Google News pages without “paying” for it. These companies reap plenty of benefit from their relationship with Google. Google’s news page displays a short teaser but links directly to the originating site driving traffic and potential eyes to newspaper advertisers. To cut this cord, not only threatens the newspapers potential ad revenue, but for academics, it walls off a potential source of information for research and teaching.

Getting fairly compensated for one’s work, whether it’s a newspaper or an academic is indeed important. But removing access to search for potential content, or limiting which search service gets to access it, is a form a censorship. Academics who use online news should watch this debate very closely. To censor search engine access to important news poses a threat to our ability to do our work.

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About Michael Ritter PhD
Professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, science textbook author, educational technology blogger, podcaster, and freelance media consultant.

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