Google’s Role in the ‘Great Internet News Divide’

Premium web content, over the past couple of years, has been the newest, oddest trend in news and reporting; and now Google is attempting to capitalize.

Google Wallet, launched late 2011, is a mobile and web app that allows users to securely store their credit, debit, and gift card information for easy use in retail stores as well as online. Like Google+, the trend never really caught on as hoped, so now it has been revamped as a one-click medium to purchase premium web content, which primarily includes online news articles, journal articles, and magazine articles.

So far Google has labeled their newest campaign as an “experiment” to test its users’ willingness to pay for high-end web pages and articles. Don’t be fooled.

Universal access to fair and honest news is narrowed heavily by Google Wallet and alike premium web content because of who it limits to gaining the information–after all, it is ‘premium’ information. Even the title implies an “in-the-know” and “out-of-the-know” mentality toward news:  if the user is socioeconomically hindered, or simply chooses not to use a credit card, the individual cannot read news articles others can. Do people need such a harsh divide in news accessibility for the sake of less advertisements and a ‘cleaner’ web experience? Does the traditional economic model for the Internet need to be flipped upside down by Google (again)?

Probably not, and those questions are somewhat irrelevant. The only people really using the service for access to premium web content are desperate graduate school students struggling with sources for their thesis. But the notion remains unsettling.

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2 responses to “Google’s Role in the ‘Great Internet News Divide’

  1. Hasn’t there been premium content on the Internet for a while? What Google is doing really isn’t new. They are just trying to do it differently, and make their own cash on it. Making users pay for premium content is a time-honored tradition.

    All news used to be premium content. Think of the seeing old movies where people in newspaper stands were hawking the paper. A person could still find free news if they were able to snag a paper from someone who bought it already, see one in a coffee shop, or go to the library. You had to work for it. Radio was the first to give people the idea that news should be free, but it was mandated by the government through the FCC. Television followed in radio’s footsteps.

    If people want jobs as journalists, someone unfortunately has to pay for content. I don’t everyone wants to be an unpaid blogger for the rest of their lives. If one don’t want to see ads, then one have to pay something for that access. I don’t see a problem with people paying for premium content. That’s just the way the world works.

  2. I am not really familiar with the paid-premium web content services as much. I heard a little bit about Google Wallet, but like as you said, didn’t pay much attention to it like Google+. I didn’t see the hype develop, so I didn’t follow it as much.

    I also think it is pretty annoying when I am surfing The New York Times online, and a popup comes up and tells me that I need to pay, and only have a few more articles to read for free. I think that drives readers away from sites, like myself, and therefore lowers their online readership. I understand the payment to have clearer web pages and less ads, but I don’t agree with having to pay for news content. I understand that they need to make money, but it is something that hasn’t won me over quite yet. That’s why I take advantage of the newspapers on campus!

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