The Eve of the “Index Wars”?

Question: Is Google News used more as a substitute for other news sites or as a research tool?

Josh Cohen: Yeah. I mean, we really see our role as a starting point for people when they're looking for news. Our goal is really to try and help people find the information they're looking for. Again, in that way it's no different from what we're trying to do in Web search. You know, we'll share headlines or snippets or sometimes just the source name itself, and then when people want to read that story, we send them directly off to the publisher's site. So within a given month, just from Google News alone -- not even talking about Google, the broader search index -- we send about a billion clicks every single month to publishers worldwide, because that's really consistent with what we're trying to do. We don't have content; we don't have any editors and journalists creating stories. We're just trying to surface that great content that people are creating every single day, whether it's traditional sources that have been around for hundreds of years or new startups that are just fresh to the market.

Question: Rather than indexing all the world’s information, will Google now have to compete to index as much as possible?

Josh Cohen: Yeah, well, I mean I think that we have no intention of paying simply for indexing information. But I think sometimes there is the perception that it's an either/or proposition, that I can put my content on the Web and make it freely available, but if I decide to put up a pay wall, it can't be -- you know, I can't make it discoverable. And that's not the case. And actually, publishers who decide to put up a pay wall can still be discovered within Google. And Wall Street Journal is actually -- is a perfect example of that. Since they've been on the Web they've always had at least some set of their content behind a pay wall, and they've charged subscribers for that. And that content has been available within Google News and also within Google Search as well.

So there are opportunities for publishers if they decide that they feel they can charge for that content -- users are willing to pay for that -- they can do that and still decide that they want to be discovered within Google. So it's not -- I don't think -- there are a number of different options of how they can do so, so it's not a -- I don't think it has to be an either/or proposition. I think it would be a worse thing for the end user if there are certain searches that return certain information and other ones didn't, but a publisher can decide how much access they want to give for different search engines, and do that fairly easily with just a simple bit of code on their pages right now.

Google’s mission is to organize all the world’s information. If new media walls go up, will they have to compete to organize as much of it as possible?

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