Will the Worm Turn on Google?
William Powers writes about the media’s waning affection for Google in National Journal today.
Who’s next? I think the worm is about to turn on Google. The company’s ascent has been too rapid, its successes too extravagant. As I wrote this sentence a few days ago, Google’s stock price was $416, up more than 300 percent since the company went public a mere 16 months ago.
Regular people look at that run-up and say: “Nice work, Google, you must be doing something right.” Media people look at the same numbers and hear a little voice: Somebody’s got to stop this.
Journalists have been making savage love to Google for several years now, churning out an astonishing succession of idolatrous stories about the two young men who founded the company, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and the blinding brilliance of everything that bears the name Google.
Rich, brilliant, and modest, to boot. A story in the House & Home section of The New York Times once referred to Brin and Page as “sexy Silicon Valley billionaires.” Seldom are old-line media outlets so out there with their libidos. But billionaires are special, and the Google billionaires were the most special of all.
While technology blogs have been full of anti-Google sentiments for a long time, the mainstreamers are now joining in. A few weeks ago Boston Globe technology writer Hiawatha Bray opened a piece with the question, “Do you hate Google yet?” Reminding his readers that once upon a time Microsoft was the heroic upstart, Bray then asked, “Is it Google’s turn?”
It’s kind of amazing it took this long for journalists to start turning on Google. After all, the company has its own news operation, one of those information-wants-to-be-free deals that is eating the old media’s lunch. Why help them?