Sam Zell, the real estate magnate has kicked up a storm on the blogsphere (see Tech Meme http://www.techmeme.com/ for a collection of the articles covering the issue) after suggesting that newspapers should stop giving their content to the search engines.
Of course, IDG’s was not totally immune to such thinking a few years ago, but we realized we were wrong and got over it – fast !
Brilliant as he has proven to be in his field of expertise, it seems as if Sam Zell has not been paying attention. Sam Zell is going to lose billions on newspapers and the Washington Post has no idea what they're talking about.
An interesting post by Lucas Grindly lays out a couple of arguments for Sam Zell's stance - I personally do not agree but it's one of the more interesting counter arguments I've read.
Just how powerful is Google and how will it evolve is an interesting debate but rather that worry about the future "artificial intelligence Googlezon", publishers need to focus on the here and now and build their brands around their local and vertical communities. It’s all about your audiences, not all about you.
Having just taken over PC World and Macworld, I know we still have a lot to do in this regard. The attitude, (despite obvious indications to the contrary that the audience needs to be front and center) is still one of pushing out content rather than pulling it in. This approach is a by-product of our print legacy and it's out of date.
I intend to work hard to change this approach at IDG and particularly at PC World and Macworld. In one memorable interaction with Steve Jobs he very calmly told me that is was not I was wrong, it was just that I needed an "attitude adjustment".
I suggest Sam Zell and his team quickly adjust their attitude to the internet or they will be joining the dodo.
Of course, I could be completely wrong and Sam Zell is a wily fox !