What Would Google Do? (part 3)

Now that the Knight News Challenge project is done (whew!), with a couple months for polishing those applications ahead of the new Dec. 15 deadline, it’s time to finish Jeff Jarvis’ book before we get into the big blogging project.

Please finish the reading (p. 119-144), and in the comments section give us your final impressions on the book. Put particular emphasis on the chapter on media; which of the Google rules there feel most applicable (or least), and why? Try to pull this three-part reading together and give us a synthesis of the key takeaway for young journalists today. What do you need to do now?

Get this done by 8 p.m. Monday. Thanks.

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16 Responses to “What Would Google Do? (part 3)”


  1. 1 billbowmanut October 19, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    A key takeaway that I would tell someone is that to succeed in today’s world you have to be open, efficient and talented. In the future, simply having capital or a prominent position will not be enough. To succeed you must have higher quality since there are so many more producers out there. In addition, to be accepted by the masses, you must be open and interactive. No one wants a one way conversation.

    I did not enjoy this section of Jarvis’s book as much as the first. Maybe I am getting tired of reading the word Google. I thought that he was stretching the potential impact of Google and its practices a bit (even though he did it in a tongue and cheek way). Jarvis himself admitted that much in the GoogleCollins section, saying that he was writing a book in print, which is unsearchable and non-interactive. I think that the reality of Hollywood, printing and other services might move towards a more open future, but it will not be easy or fast. Human greed and conservative organizations will make sure of that. Of course the themes that he expanded upon – interactivity, transparency and openness are still valid, but may not ever be universal. All of the Google rules apply to what he said in the new media chapter, since the rules are the building blocks for that chapter and they reinforce each other.

  2. 2 Cassandra H October 19, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    WWGD has helped me embrace what the new world of journalism is now. As a senior, I have been bombarded for the past three years about how journalism is not the same and we are all in trouble and never going to work again–a lot of fear that this new model will flat out replace newspapers. In reading this book, however, this online burden has lifted significantly because we have cohesive idea of what is happening and what we can actually do to make sure our stories do not get lost in the shuffle.

    The Google rule that is the most applicable is the, “do what you do best and link to the rest.” As young journalists, it is very important to understanding this link economy for not only yourself but your collaborators as well. Another rule that is very applicable to journalism today is “life is public, so is business.” Regarding old media, many have not wanted to join the online bandwagon for reason that we cannot trust the Internet. WWGD urges publicness as a means to promote this much-needed trust from readers to online media.

    I enjoyed the new chapter on media and the discussion of piracy for books. I do think that it is valid to take advantage of having the information free online and then still selling the print edition successfully. However, in thinking about this for journalism, the readers are divided: you read print or online. It seems to be one or the other. I do not know if/when piracy for newspapers would ever really pay off.

    For young journalists, I feel it is very important that we are learning this now before we start these careers. A big part of putting stories online is understanding and utilizing the link economy, as well as showing others in the industry how to break down the old barriers old media presented.

  3. 3 Adam Aldrete October 19, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    This section of the book highlighted one key concept that Jarvis seems to want us to understand. Organizations, whether newspapers or television stations, need to network and understand what exactly they provide for consumers. He revisits his concept that “atoms are a drag” to further prove the necessity of building an online presence and shifting all work that can be done on computers to a system with less production and distribution in the physical world.
    He points out, perhaps rightly so, that the scarcity-based economy is no longer going to be the prevalent system once more and more industries move online. This hypothesis will rid the world of “middle-men.” As a society, we have decided that “atom-less” products should be free. As such, companies will need to find other sources of revenue if their purpose has to do with the distribution of information.
    Overall, the book was a good read. Jarvis made compelling arguments as to why companies should network, open themselves up to consumers (like Dell reluctantly did), and develop an online presence based on their niche.

  4. 4 James October 19, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    In reading WWGD I have become more aware of how the Google model is affecting the news industry, and so much more. What has stuck most in my mind is the concept of the link economy as a way to distribute news, gain readership, and create online advertising dollars. The reading has also led me to contemplate the benefits of understanding and applying this sort of Google mindset early on.

    I feel that the Google rule, be a platform. join a network is very applicable to the future of the information/news industry. It is interesting to consider the development of networks centered on reporting the news. Sites like Spot.Us would fall in network journalism category and I wonder how many more similar sites we will see in the near future. I also enjoyed Jarvis’ thoughts on mashups of information and how large news providers like NYT and NPR are opening up their API’s for this type of creativity to emerge. Jarvis’ rule to listen well is another one that should seem all too obvious. In a world where so many people are connected and willing to give advice, it seems foolish not to seek input from others.

    WWGD encourages young journalists to be aware of how to use the web as a resume. Through blogging, social networking, building websites, and just learning online tools in general, journalism students will be placing themselves ahead of the curve when it comes time to find or create a job in the rapidly changing news industry.

  5. 5 msherfield October 19, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    First off, I never want to read the word “Google” again. Maybe I need a break from Mr. Jarvis too.
    That said, there is a lot of valuable information to be gained form Google’s business model and Jarvis’ analysis.
    When it comes to the rules, the ones that most comes to mind are “do what you do best and link to the rest.”
    Papers need to decided what their strengths are and stick to covering those. The days of national coverage and international bureaus is over.
    Another important concept Jarvis talks about is trust vs. control. For that past 200 years, newspapers had control over what people read and how they read about it. They had no choice but to trust the papers since there was no other option.
    Now, with the internet creating that other option, papers have to earn the trust of their readers, and that often means letting go of their control on the news. I feel like being more willing to cooperate with bloggers and citizens is an important step in the direction of new media and adapting to the changing conditions of the news business.
    That is ultimately the most important thing for a young journalist to know, in my opinion. The way we used to do it is dead, learn what it takes to thrive on the internet, treating your audience as contributors instead of just followers, and always be willing to learn something new.

  6. 6 timgarlitz October 19, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    I felt like much of this chapter was essentially a rehash of concepts that Jarvis had previously covered, particularly his five demands for the link economy. One aspect of the book that stood out to me was just how little even Jarvis knows about what anyone should do about anything. When he’s not stating the same things he stated earlier (e.g. listening, linking, hyperlocal, collaborating, etc.), the terminology that he uses and his advice to companies seems so vague he might as well just tell them to “wait and see.” Much of the advice seems to barely qualify as advice in some respects. It was actually refreshing to finally see him say something concrete when he mentioned that newspapers should just stop publishing altogether. Although I’m not sure that I agree that papers will be extinct by around 2040 or so, I do agree that they should implement more programs in order to face the future than they currently employ.

    I did not like his opinions on books! I think that constantly reading exclusively digital books could not only cause possible side effects to one’s health, but the inclusion of videos and other amenities would detract from the simple pleasures of reading. Children would no longer be able to use their imaginations when pictures and videos are available, and adults would lose the ability to think critically when an available commentary can provide immediate gratification. The problem that I foresee with allowing commentary or collaboration on books is that what may start out as intelligent feedback could potentially deteriorate into the insipid, argumentative, YouTube-style comments that plague so many other websites. I also shudder to think of the combination of ads and books, and how that would ruin much of the aesthetic of book reading. Overall, I would have like to have seen a more concrete picture of where Mr. Jarvis sees the newspaper and book industries heading, and advice that is more specific on how to prepare for it.

  7. 7 Katherine Robinson October 19, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    I actually enjoyed the three sections in WWGD. The last few pages seemed a little repetitious but overall the book was an easy read. I think if more journalists and papers used his ideas to help create a newspaper 2.0, then maybe we can change the future of the press. Jarvis states, “paper 2.0 will work with and support collections of bloggers, entrepreneurs, citizens, and communities that gather and share news” (120). In my opinion, this is what papers should have been doing since the digital era began. In the beginning of the third section he was making a few claims that paper will die soon. Jarvis’ comments were really unsettling to read especially over something your passionate about. The digital era won’t kill papers, but “new products and competitors will emerge” (129).

    His most important rule regarding the media is, Google Times. This chapter provides information that newsrooms need to work out in order to be successful. His idea of papers answering ten questions about becoming a platform for network news could definitely be used as a starting point. Connecting with community with blogs and social networking sites is a great way for everyone to stay joined together. But his main argument is that papers are just now beginning to come out of the dark ages with social networking. Jarvis’ other two subchapters, Googlewwood and GoogleCollins, did not grab my attention.

  8. 8 jwhitcomb October 19, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    First off, I found this last section of the book to be a little boring. It also really frustrates me that Jarvis (self-admittedly) doesn’t practice what he is writing about! To me it says: “Look how great these ideas are, but they still won’t make you any money!” And since making money on of the Internet is such a big concern, I feel that not practicing what he is teaching is detrimental to the credibility of the book and message. Also, Jarvis devotes so much space to talking about how irrelevant books are…in his book. I don’t know. I really think Jarvis makes many valid points, maybe I am just burnt out on them.

    I think the key takeaway point from this book is for businesses (and newspapers) to succeed now they need to stop what they are doing and start treating the customer/audience like they are important. Consumers are valuable and the audience now doesn’t have to listen if they don’t want to – they have choices. It is also important to be flexible, visible, and interact with the audience. Oh and link! Always link. I think many of us have mentioned that but it is really so valuable for being noticed and relevant. Ultimately all of these things will make a young journalist successful.

  9. 9 Tiffany Tso October 19, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    In concluding What Would Google Do? by Jarvis, I suppose I have learned quite a bit about the growth of Web 2.0 and the new business model for journalism.. There was a lot of important insight to be had from the book in the business side of things. I did complain a bit about there being some “common knowledge” information included in the book, but to be fair — I am no business genius and don’t really know that much about how to run a business and WWGD would be really helpful if I were to venture into the online business world. It is nice that the book outlines the dos and don’ts of online business; these things are not necessarily commonly known to everybody venturing into the business.

    This new realm of business obviously not just a ‘trend,’ considering the internet and technology will prevail and continue to expand. Figuring out how to do so is probably not so easy for everybody… considering even Dell (a company has been around for a long time) is still not quite so knowledgeable.

    Now that it is obvious and clear the print media is declining while internet media is on the rise, there needs to be instruction on how to remain successful in the field. What WWGD? did was exactly that — tech-savvy business plans for success. A shift to the consumer’s control and a more laissez faire practice is evident in the successful companies of today. Let the people do what they want, be cordial and friendly to the people and make the internet into a growing and profitable career takes specific, detailed decision-making.

    All in all, it was a worthy book, but only for those looking to start up a business.

  10. 10 Lonnica October 19, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    I thought the book was an interesting read, although I could have done without all his self praises. Before reading WWGD, I only thought of Google just as a search engine. But, of course, now I see that Google has a bit more influence than I realized.
    I felt like I could have skipped the entire two previous sections and just have read the last part and got the gist of the book.
    The biggest thing I took away from the book was communication between the company and the buyer/reader and creating platforms. Jarvis noted some really good examples in the last part, specifically, Howard Stern and how he changed radio. He also shows that despite Google having the money to hire the best people to created what it has today, anyone can do what Google has done.
    I was a bit iffy on the “killing a book to save it” section. He says why not put advertisement on the pages, and maybe I’m just not being imaginative right now, but I don’t see how that will benefit books. I only see that as another way advertising companies are intruding on peoples’ lives. It might work with books like WWGD and textbooks, but literature and contemporary fiction? I really hope not.

  11. 11 austintries5 October 19, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Like Jarvis, I also found it humorous and a bit hypocritical to be reading about the future of news and the innovative Google business model in the confines of a bound hardback book.
    I also have to agree that I definitely need a lengthy sabbatical from the word Google, at least the lecturing about their business model, but I have to say Jarvis made great points and provided a unique perspective about the future of news. When reading, I felt like I had heard most of the stuff before, but seeing it in print and thinking about how it now applies to the profession I have chosen to enter is somewhat surreal.
    I think the concept of doing what you do best and linking to the rest is huge and extremely important to the journalists credibility and transparency; however, I feel that Jarvis’ point about collaboration and using “the people formerly known as the audience,” to learn and develop ideas.
    Ironically, as I was looking for that quote all I was thinking about was hitting command F and searching Jay Rosen’s name.
    The audience is a huge part of media and developing a two-way street for communication is vital to a business’ success.
    Going back to the written word and the future of the book, Jarvis is write that it is a fixed medium that does not allow for interaction, editing or updating through the years. I agree that it has been put on a pedestal, but at the same time, I feel like there are few barriers to entry to write a book if you are a celebrity or have disposable income, so what makes them better? Once again, the WWGD method provides collaboration and trust between the audience and the creators for quality information.
    Overall the book was very interesting and a great read for anyone in this business. Being flexible and constantly growing will ultimately decide our futures

  12. 12 Samantha Borger October 19, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    First off, I was kind of surprised that Jarvis firmly believed newspapers should all get rid of their print versions. His points make sense, but I feel like people have been making this argument for awhile, and yet the majority are still being printed. We’ll see about that one in the future I guess.

    Overall, Jarvis gets across a few really helpful points that could help any business, especially in the media, to improve their presence in modern times of Web 2.0 and beyond. I think the most important ones deal with how companies interact with their consumers and about thinking outside the way things have always been done. Through elegant organization companies can allow communities to organize themselves more efficiently. By listening well, companies can really figure out what their consumers need and serve them in a way that better suits those needs. The most important idea Jarvis presents is in the section about how Google would improve newspapers. Jim Louderback says that these organizations should gather a core group of people
    and allow them to build something entirely new. It’s all about encouraging, enabling and protecting innovation. Newspapers really lack in innovation right now. All they have time to do is try to find a way to manage their budgets and figure out who has to get fired in order to keep up. While the business model is still extremely important to fix, they should also be trying to figure out where their content needs improvement and how to update it to suit their current consumers’ needs.

    To tie it all in–Google and other similarly successful endeavors recognize the importance of relationships with and within the community and the continuation to innovate ways to cultivate these relationships.

  13. 13 Grant October 19, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    I thought this book was vey interesting, although I am looking forward to taking a long break from it before finishing it.

    One of the main concepts that I took away from the book is the concept of “adding value” to a piece of content. Many large organizations have yet to realize this concept but I think that it is one of the most important ones to learn. Anything that grants people more, and easier access to you content adds value to it, even if it means that it is given away for free. It is a difficult concept to come to terms with, especially in a country that places such value on intellectual property.

    This book has especially opened my eyes because I tend to try to work alone, under the assumption that if you want something done right do it yourself. On the upside this attitude has lead me to develop a broad knowledge base and a very well rounded skill set. This, however, will only get a person so far. At some point you simply have to outsource, if not because you don’t have the skills to perform a certain function then because you don’t have the resources. This is when “do what you do best and link to the rest” comes in to play.

    Jarvis’ concept of linking goes hand in hand with his concept of openness. If you are open about what you know, and more importantly what you don’t know, then people will understand and respect when they are lead outside your side to learn more information on a particular topic of interest. They trust that although you may not hold it, you will lead them to the best information out there. This will keep bringing people to your site and even if they only come so that you can lead them away, they are still adding value to your site.

  14. 14 brandonfried October 19, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Like others have pointed out, the last reading section summed up the rules Jarvis presented throughout the beginning of the book. I’m not quite tired of Jarvis like a few of the class members might be but I don’t deny the fact that he loves to repeat everything he writes. That being said, I think this approach really helps drive his point home. The rules are simple and anyone should be able to understand them, interpret them and easily adapt them to their own organization – be it for news or any other group.

    Two rules have stayed with me throughout the course of this reading and they have started to pervade most of my thoughts for the KNC project and anything else I tend to think about when considering my own careers, my future, etc:
    1. Newspapers should focus on one speciality and, as Jarvis puts it, “decide on what business they are in”. If they want to create interesting, niched content – great. But they shouldn’t exhaust their resources trying to engage an entirely new community AND focus on distributing said content in creative, profitable ways at the same time. Why stress when you can leave the rest to others (like…Google?)
    2. Be a platform. I love this idea. LOVE it. It inspired my KNC idea and is one of those principles that you can’t believe you never thought of before. Living the ‘platform’ approach to it’s fullest means embracing the power of others and using that collective strength for a greater good.

    Most of Jarvis’ key points fit into that ‘I wish I had thought of this first’ category but I really like the way he presents it all in his book. I’m glad I had the chance to read it for this class and what I love even more is the fact that it speaks so far beyond the newsroom or media company. These ideas really can be taken and applied anywhere.

  15. 15 frankie marin October 19, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    I liked this reading more so than the first parts of the book. I hadn’t considered the ramifications the Internet would hold against the book industry and entertainment. I mean, of course I had pondered the effects of the internet on these industries, but I hadn’t thought about these industries necessarily being in danger the way journalism is.

    But first, I wanted to address p. 124, where Jarvis talks about how the Chicago Tribune should treat the “invasion” of the Huffington Post’s local services. I liked how he encouraged the reporter to collaborate — not compete — with the new publication, to sell local ads for the Post, quote her bloggers, link her stories, etc. I’m wondering if the Texas Tribune is getting the same kind of treatment from Texas news publications at the moment — certainly there are many similarities between the TT’s situation and the Chicago Tribune’s.

    On p. 125, Jarvis talks about how papers need to restructure, retrain staff, slough off unnecessary costs and promote new products before the “presses go silent”. This is interesting considering the Times are about to cut 100 more newsroom positions, and another 100 were cut last year [via http://j.mp/4gRggM ]. I can see how the Times have tried to increase their online presence since I started reading it in high school, but I’m curious as to what they did to cut costs, especially with a newsroom of over 1,300 people.

    Lastly, I wanted to address the book industry’s dilemmas with the advent of the Internet. It’s really something that hadn’t occurred to me. Of course I’ve seen innovation in how books are read (the Kindle, Google Books) and bought (Amazon), but I really hadn’t considered that the print book would be in danger, just as newspapers are. Being an English major as well as a journalism major, I have a fondness for the written word (as opposed to the digital word). I have shelves upon shelves of books that I’ve collected all my life, and I think I might be going against the grain when I say that the printed word will never cease to exist, especially when it comes to literature. I can’t fathom a world where the book doesn’t exist, and I wouldn’t want to.

  16. 16 Erin Harris October 20, 2009 at 6:44 am

    What should journalists do now? I suggest they should read this book. Just like Cassandra said, until this class and Jarvis’ book, I have simply been told (over and over almost as a scare tactic) that newspapers are dead and no one knows what the future of journalism will look like… but not what I should do about it. After reading WWJD, I have a much better understanding about how to cope with and adapt to the changing face of journalism so that I can be successful.

    As for Jarvis’ most applicable rules… first, any journalist or news organization will benefit from defining the business they are in and audience they serve. With that, they should be aware of their ability or inability to influence, figure out how their content fits in the lives of their audience, and determine their strongest beats.

    If a news outlet has unique content, the audience will be more loyal, more people will link to its articles (that’s a good thing), and therefore the audience will grow. So, if a news organization determines their strongest beats and pours its energy into making that content unique from any other organization… and links to the rest… they should fare well in the future.


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