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#WANIndia2009: Les Hinton tells newspapers – ‘Beware geeks bearing gifts’

December 2nd, 2009Posted by in Events, Newspapers, Online Journalism

Unsurprisingly Les Hinton, CEO of Dow Jones and part of the Murdoch empire, launched an impassioned attack on free content and Google yesterday as part of his speech to the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) conference.

Hinton criticised the promise of the internet (‘the false gospel of the web’) and while describing Google as an everyday wonder, said the search engine is at the heart of the crisis faced by newspapers:

“We were promised that eyeballs meant advertising, clicks meant cash. Free costs too much. News is a business and we should not be afraid to say it,” said Hinton.

“These digital visionaries tell people like me that we just don’t understand them. They talk about the wonders of the interconnected world, about the democratization of journalism. The news, they say, is viral now – that we should be grateful. Well, I think all of us need to beware of geeks bearing gifts.Here we are in 2009 – more viral, less profitable.”

Hinton was previously responsible for News International’s newspapers including the Sunday Times, which will introduce charging online next year. He said the industry itself was ‘the principal architect of its greatest difficulty’ for surrendering its content to aggregators and search engines for free – sentiments echoing Murdoch in Beijing only months ago.

Speech reproduced courtesy of WAN and Scribd.

All coverage of #WANIndia2009 from Journalism.co.uk can be found at this link.

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