Pass it on.

In the wake of Google’s decision to rebrand as “Alphabet,” an old-school journalist launched an attack that demonstrates the gulf that exists between legacy media and new media

First, the rebranding: Google was plagued, as many Silicon giants are, by branching out in all kinds of money-losing directions. Its core business is Internet search but suddenly it was sponsoring driverless cars and pharmaceuticals.

Eh, what? Who asked for driverless cars? What does Google know about pharmaceuticals?

That tendency has been the road to ruin for many gargantuan businesses. They disastrously assume that because they know everything about one thing, they know a lot about everything. No correlation (except the huge financial losses that follow).

So the rebranding is intended to keep the core company profitable by a renewed focus on the core business:  

“We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search!” Page said. “We also like that it means alpha-bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for!” 

Actually, so much of Google just sort of happened in the giddy early days of the Internet:

While Alphabet may be an unusual choice for a multibillion-dollar Web conglomerate, it’s more mundane than the company’s name, which was considered odd before it become a household term. Page and Brin adopted Google, a misspelling of the large number Googol (1 followed by 100 zeroes), when they founded the Web-search company in 1998.

But now on to the keynote address attack on the company, riffing off its new name, by News Corp CEO Robert Thomson, of whom we hear,

Thomson is a longtime news executive, having served as editor-in-chief of Dow Jones, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal and editor of The Times. He has also held posts at the Financial Times, including editor of the US edition, editor of the Weekend FT and assistant editor, as well as having been a correspondent in Tokyo and in Beijing. News Corp publishes newspapers including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post and is parent to HarperCollins book publishing unit.

In other words, he is inner than in. At the recent Australian journalism awards dinner he mocked the “alphabet” rebranding, saying,

“That Google’s newly conceived parent company is to be called Alphabet has itself created a range of delicious permutations: A is for Avarice, B is for Bowdlerize, through to K for Kleptocracy, P for Piracy and Z for Zealotry,” Thomson said of the technology company and its newly announced parent company, Alphabet.

We are told,

Thomson also blasted social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook in his speech at the Lowy Institute Media Awards: “None of them actually create content, and they certainly have little intention of paying for it, but they do redistribute the content created by others — they would argue that such redistribution is a natural extension of their role as social networks. I would argue that much of the redistribution is an unnatural act. (Full text. Audio available.)

Ah. It is indeed an unnatural act if one is wedded to the old media framework in which there were active purveyors of news and passive recipients of news. Think radio and television. The decades in which pro-abortion values, just for example, were drummed into everyone’s ears by the monopoly old media.

The internet does not work that way. It cannot work that way. It erases such distinctions. Anyone who wants to start a blog can do so in a few minutes, then lose interest and not even go back to watch it die. Or be consumed by the passion of it all and end up with 50,000 readers daily. I’ve seen lots of both.

Which is why it is called the internet, not the innernet.

The internet has great potential for busting the logjam of news that legacy media does not want to report and does not report often, honestly, or well—though many would gladly read and learn from it.

Indeed, on some subjects (Planned Parenthood’s baby body parts business comes to mind), legacy media would prefer that the audience just not know. The majority of personnel seem committed to progressive causes, of which that grisly business is a natural and inevitable outcome (one can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, etc.).

So is it relevant to Thomson’s outburst that we learn: News Corp Q4 Revenue and Earnings Drop Due to Advertising Declines? More on that later.

Given a chance, legacy media will be happy to police and suppress new media on behalf of progressive governments, such that—ideally in their view—the public will know only information approved by progressive governments and mediated by themselves.

That sort of move is historically common. Here is the unusual part: Legacy media’s only power at present is our willingness to pay attention.

We should stop doing so, and seek out reliable, traditional values-based online sources.

Then the legacies’ growing weakness may prevent them from sponsoring as much harm as they otherwise can. Progressive governments won’t see them as so ueful if their voluntary audience diminishes sharply rather than slowly.

None of this is intended as an endorsement of Google as such. It is simply an observation that Google, while it offers danger, is at present far more use to us.

More on the problems with Google later.

See also:How big is Google? Is it really a googleplex? No, but it is formidable anyway.

Denyse O’Leary is a Canadian journalist, author, and blogger.

Denyse O’Leary is an author, journalist, and blogger who has mainly written popular science and social science. Fellow Canadian Marshall McLuhan’s description of electronic media as a global village...