Journalists Suggest A Study Dinging Google For Ripping Off News Publishers Is Faulty

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Journalists argue that a recent study suggesting Google pulled in $4 billion in revenue in 2018 from scraping news publishers’ content without paying the publisher is not what it appears.

Reporters and writers are suggesting a study published Monday from the News Media Alliance showing Google hitting news publishers is based on data from almost a decade ago. One journalist is even criticizing The New York Times for publishing the research without critically analyzing the study’s data.

“[T]he $100 million quoted by Google for Google News (which has no ads) can be extrapolated in a straightforward way to suggest an estimated $4.7 billion of revenue in 2018 to Google from news content on Google Search and Google News,” the study noted, referring to data that showed Google News pulled in roughly $100 million in 2008.

The News Media Alliance went on to explain the reason for the extrapolation. “The $100M in 2008 is 0.7% of Google’s 2008 revenue of $14 billion from Google websites. From 2008 to 2018, revenue generated on Google websites has grown from $14 billion to $96 billion. This growth in revenue was driven by several factors including an increase in online behavior in emerging markets,” the group added.

David Chavern, the president of News Media Alliance, is expected to warn lawmakers in a congressional hearing Tuesday that Google and Facebook represent a type of existential threat to major news publishers, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. “News publishers need to continue to invest in quality journalism, and they can’t do that if the platforms take what they want without paying for it,” he said Monday in a press statement attached to the study.

New York, NY, USA – July 11, 2016: Headquarters of The New York Times in night (Shutterstock/By Osugi)

Google panned the study. “These back of the envelope calculations are inaccurate as a number of experts are pointing out. The overwhelming number of news queries do not show ads. Every month Google News and Google Search drives over 10 billion clicks to publishers’ websites, which drive subscriptions and significant ad revenue,” the company said in a statement Monday.

Reporters also suggested the extrapolation was inappropriate given the break-neck changes that have happened in the tech industry since 2008.

“This seems like a pretty audacious extrapolation to make over a decade in an ever-shifting tech industry,” Lachlan Markay, a writer at The Daily Beast, wrote in a tweet Monday linking to the study. He also posted a screenshot of the News Media Alliance’s methodology.

Other writers suggested media reports fleshing out the study failed to explain the extrapolation or adhere to journalistic integrity. (RELATED: Google Calls Study Alleging It Scrapes Billions From News Publishers’ Content ‘Inaccurate’)

“The Times story itself is appalling as it swallowed the News Media Alliance’s PR whole, quoting people from the association and not including comment from Google until hours later,” Jeff Jarvis, a freelance journalist, wrote in a Medium post Monday referring to The NYT’s report on the study. He co-hosts a podcast called This Week in Google, which discusses news about the Silicon Valley giant.

The NYT has not responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment about the depiction of the study.

The study comes as major media outlets continue to lay off staff. Verizon Media, which owns Yahoo and the HuffPost, slashed roughly 800 jobs, or 7%, of its global workforce in January. BuzzFeed also announced a move to cut 15% of its workforce, including jobs in journalism.

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