Thursday, March 24, 2011


Historian Maarja Krusten gently chides Watergate reporter Bob Woodward (who's coming to the Nixon library on April 18, or, as we say at St. John's, the Monday in Holy Week) for his confused and curmudgeonly critique of Google and Facebook:

Google and Facebook just aren’t the problems Woodward seems to paint them as being. And it isn’t Google that killed newspapers. The problem is in the newspapers providing free content at the start of the Internet age and then having no way to go paywall once everyone was accustomed to reading what they wanted. As Bob Haldeman once observed, there’s no point in trying to put the toothpase back into the tube once you squeezed it out. Ain’t gonna work.

As shown by the mixed reaction the New York Times received last week when it decided to charge non-subscribers for more than 20 visits a month to its web site. Hundreds wrote and said that they'd just get their content at Yahoo, as if they don't understand what would happen to the content (also the top source of information for the networks and ten thousand bloggers whose shoe leather carries them no further than Starbucks) if the Times went broke.

You'd think Woodward, famous for his deliberate, ingratiating methods, would be the first to say, "Google can't find it if I don't report it, and I'm not going to report it for free." Yet people, especially younger people, have gotten it into their heads that Internet=Information. Last night, rewatching Roman Polanski's flawed anti-Tony Blair thriller "The Ghost Writer," I laughed out loud when the hero broke the case wide open by Googling another character's name and uncovering his status as a CIA agent. As if.

1 comment:

MK said...

Well said. Woodward did himself no favors with the "get off my lawn" tone. He did say some other things which shed light on how he works but people focused on the Google and Facebook comments.