Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Media's Mel Brooks-like Reporting

In his movie History of the World, Part I producer, director and actor Mel Brooks repeatedly proclaims that “it’s good to be the king.” Although he was playing the role of French king Louis XVI, Brooks’ catchphrase most likely captures the sentiments of Google’s leadership posse – Schmidt, Brin and Page.

That’s because even their me-too product announcements generate a whirlwind of press attention, and send competitors scurrying into the shadows. Consider Google’s entry into the Web analytics space last week with its Ad Planner service. Market leader ComScore’s stock tumbled 23 percent in a day.

The Washington Post’s Kim Hart led her story with this insightful observation, “Suddenly having Google as a competitor could quickly spell death for a smaller firm.” Buried in the article was the point that advertisers may be reluctant to let Google measure the effectiveness of ads placed in its other services.

Google Enters ComScore’s Turf
Washington Post

This week Google trumpeted a new virtual world and chat service called Lively. While the New York Times fawned over Google and its innovation, it took blog GigaOM to provide a much-needed dose of perspective:

On first glance, Lively seems too similar to several existing MMOs, making it an also-ran without a key market distinguisher to be truly compelling (besides being from Google). You can stream YouTube videos in these rooms and embed rooms on websites, and it’s got appealing cartoon visuals and a fairly intuitive interface, but that’s true of numerous online worlds already out there.

I have repeatedly applauded Google for its efforts to develop new services as a means of diversifying its revenue. The company could easily rest on the success (and profits) of its search business. Yet, it recognizes the need to innovate to remain in a position of leadership and strength.

The concern I have is with the lack of insight and analysis provided by journalists when it comes to reporting on market leading companies. Their responsibility is to inform and educate, and that demands asking tough questions.

If business and trade media continue to go through the motions, the reader exodus to online news sources and blogs will accelerate.

Google Introduces a Cartoonlike Method for Talking in Chat Rooms
New York Times

How Lively? Google’s Me-Too Virtual World

1 comment:

Chris Parente said...

Good post Marc. A long-time trade reporter I know shared with me her frustration about how the online business model puts a premium on story clicks. So a story about something silly -- look what you can make Naughty Santa do online! -- or a story about a market leader gets more clicks than a balanced, well researched story.