The Atlantic smooches Google in cover story

Whatever the Atlantic’s national correspondent Mr. James Fallows calls his Atlantic cover story: “Google: Inside the company’s daring plan to save the news (and itself),” it can’t be journalism.

It was one of the most vacuous 12-page puff pieces I have ever read. Like Jeff Jarvis described: “It doesn’t break a single new nugget of news.” It was the literary equivalent of a puppy jumping up incessantly to lick the face of the person in closest proximity.

How ironic is it that a journalist, that made a point of telling the reader that he taught journalism for several years, wrote the functional equivalent of Google PR brochure extolling all the good Google has done for journalism/newspapers — with no journalistic critical thinking or balance.

It is hard to fathom that in twelve pages there were:

  • Only interviews with Googlers and Google-friendly sources;
  • No opposing views from the litany of news types that have a very different view;
  • No mention of Google’s long efforts to make and keep news online free; and
  • No quotes from any Google critics like NewsCorp or former veteran newspaperman John Simpson of Inside Google/Consumer Watchdog.

While it is commendable that Mr. Fallows mentioned in the article that he is personal friends with Google CEO Eric Schmidt, he failed to disclose that he serves on the New America Foundation Board with Mr. Schmidt and that New America advocates for public policy on journalism questions.

In short, this Atlantic cover story was for all intents and purposes a long form version of Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s 12-09 WSJ op-ed: “How Google can help newspapers.”

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