Google executives have been talking a lot lately about journalism in the 21st century, and reports released this week indicate that the company has been thinking about investing in it.
Two reports - from Fortune and The Washington Post - suggest that Google has been negotiating with The New York Times and The Post about possible areas of collaboration and even investment.
It's not clear what exactly this might mean, but the conversations "range from creating new Web pages to tech tools for journalists or readers," noted Howard Kurtz of The Post. A Google representative told MediaMemo that "it was an informal meeting, and we are always talking to publishers to find new creative ways to help them make money from their content online."
In parallel, Fortune reports that Google has been groped about the possibility of taking a financial stake in The New York Times; the idea was studied in detail before finally deciding to drop the subject. MediaMemo notes that Times staff were told at a meeting that their company was also negotiating with Google a collaboration presumably similar to that of The Washington Post.
Google has always rejected the idea of creating its own content, so it seems unlikely that it will end up as the owner of The New York Times. However, Google clearly has a good deal of money to invest Google and a keen interest in staying at the center of the world's demand for information.
Despite all the bitterness directed at him by certain sections of the publishing industry, healthy media companies are definitely in Google's top interest. After all, a complete domain over the searches of the Web content produced by these companies is part of what gives Google all that money and, therefore, power.