Google executives have been spending an awful lot of time of late talking about journalism in the 21st century, and reports surfaced Monday that it has been thinking about putting its money where its mouth is.
Two reports--by Fortune and The Washington Post--suggest that Google has been talking to both The New York Times and the Post about possible areas of collaboration, or even investment. The Post's Howard Kurtz says Google has been talking to executives at the paper "about improved ways of creating and presenting news online," quoting fellow Post employee and former managing editor Philip Bennett, who is currently working on analyzing the future of the news business for The Washington Post Company.
It's not clear what exactly that might entail, but the talks "range from creating new Web pages to technological tools for journalists or readers," Kurtz wrote. A Google representative told MediaMemo "This was an informal meeting, and we're always talking with publishers to find new and creative ways to help them make money from compelling online content."
Separately, Fortune reports that Google was approached about taking a financial stake in The New York Times, giving the idea a serious look before eventually deciding not to pursue the matter. MediaMemo notes that Times staffers were told during a meeting today that their company is also in talks with Google about presumably the same kinds of collaboration that The Washington Post is kicking around.
Google has always disdained the idea of producing its own content, and would therefore at first glance seem an unlikely owner of The New York Times. But Google clearly has a fair amount of money to throw around, and a keen interest in staying at the center of the world's demand for information.
Despite all the rancor directed its way from some corners of the publishing industry, healthy media companies are definitely in Google's best interest. After all, a stranglehold on searches for the Web content produced by those companies is part of what gives Google all that money, and therefore power.