Listen, can you hear it? That choked gurgling is the sound of newspapers drowning in a pool of ink. But is Google to blame, as they claim?
In the US alone, there's the Rocky Mountain News, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, and maybe soon the San Francisco Chronicle and the Boston Globe - the waters are rising quickly. But to hear newspaper publishers tell it, you'd think Google was wrapping an anchor around their ankles and chumming for sharks.
There's been a lot of high-profile anti-Googlism coming out of the Newspaper Association of America's annual convention (and elsewhere) lately. For example, The Wall Street Journal's Robert Thompson likens the Googlified masses to intestinal parasites:
"There is no doubt that certain websites are best described as parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the internet. It's certainly true that readers have been socialised - wrongly I believe - that much content should be free. And there is no doubt that's in the interest of aggregators like Google who have profited from that mistaken perception. Google encourages promiscuity - and shamelessly so - and therefore a significant proportion of their users don't necessarily associate that content with the creator."
Translation: Google is helping thousands of lesser sites leech money out of publishers' pockets.
Henry Porter, an editorial writer for the Observer, continues the worm theme, calling Google "an amoral menace", "a parasite that creates nothing", and a "nightmarish 11-year-old". Please, Henry, tell us what you really think.
Dean Singleton, chair of the Associated Press, issued vaguely ominous warnings about penalising "misappropriation" of AP content and declared:
"We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under some very misguided, unfounded legal theories. We are mad as hell, and we are not going to take it any more."
Get the feeling they're a wee bit upset about something?