The head of Google News on the future of journalism, objectivity, and everything else

Richard Gingras is the head of Google News. Here’s one of the many interesting things he had to say about journalists during a recent talk at Harvard’s Nieman Foundation:

We need to reconsider our missions and our ethical guidelines (in terms of behaviors and audience engagement, not core ethics), and the concept of objectivity. Richard sides with transparency in this debate and believes readers place their trust in the individual online rather than the brand, and expects reporters to be transparent about their views. He doesn’t buy the opaque objectivity of yore where reporters said, “Trust us,” and consumer opinion surveys bear this out.

Richard sees the iPad as a fatal distraction for media companies. Too many publishers looked at the tablet as the road home to their magazine format, subscription model, and expensive full-page ads. The format of a single device does not change the fundamental ecosystem underneath it, and this shiny tablet has taken media companies’ eyes off of the ball. We haven’t seen any significant success stories of subscription rates on tablets. [Interesting observation but I’ll take with a grain of salt as Gingras’ is essentially taking a shot at his company’s number one competitor – Apple – Akin]

Richard has very simple advice that still isn’t practiced by most news companies: “Capacity is unlimited. Creating content is expensive. Use it all.”

Read the report here:  The Head of Google News on the Future of News | MIT Center for Civic Media.

The report, cited above, is written by a Nieman research assistant, Matt Stempeck. Stempeck headings as he reports on Gingras’ talk include:

  • Newspapers are Portals, and Portals are Played-Out
  • Paywalls are not a panacea
  • Data Informs, Not Dictates, Decisions
  • Surviving Disruption through Constant Innovation

Some journalists — and I’m one of them — will find Gingras’ talk terrifying/depressing and hopeful/exciting.

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