Eric Schmidt now says Google thought about buying a newspaper but rejected the idea as "crossing the line" between technology and content. The real message for newspaper hacks: You're just not profitable. Compared with, say, TV and movies.
The Financial Times is reporting an interview in which Schmidt told the paper Google "considered buying a newspaper" and "using its charitable arm to support news businesses seeking non-profit status" before rejecting the ideas:
Google had looked at buying a newspaper but was "trying to avoid crossing the line" between technology and content, Mr Schmidt said. It was instead working with publishers to make their websites "work better" for online advertising.
Schmidt's just being polite: Newspapers aren't much of a growth industry these days. He seems to have more hopes for the movie business.
Google's YouTube, after all, has held talks with William Morris Agency about buying up rights to original celebrity videos to drum up traffic and advertising on the site. There's been no deal yet, but over several months Schmidt hasn't dismissed the arrangement the way he has for newspaper publishers.
That's probably because Schmidt, who last year bought a house in Southern California and has been cozying up to Hollywood players there, is eager to blur the line between technology and content where video is concerned. He's cut deals to acquire content from MGM and, as of last month, Sony and Lions Gate. Sure, he hasn't gone so far as to have Google itself make video, but the deals put to the lie the idea of a clear line between distributing content and creating it.
Obliterating old boundaries, be the technical (search, email) or social (privacy), is what Google's all about, after all. Provided it's interested in what's across the line.