It must be a new year, because disputes over content distribution are cropping up all over. Fox had a shoving match with TimeWarner (since resolved), and Scripps is playing hardball with Cablevision.
Now, Google is (apparently) giving AP a taste of what life without Google might feel like. Neither Google nor AP is saying much, but new items from AP stopped making their way to Google News on December 24, almost three weeks ago. Google claims that it still points to AP content, but it looks as if that is an historical, not a current, batch of articles.
Neither party should look to overplay its hand. Although a recent study by the Pew Research Center asserts the persistent primacy of traditional media in breaking news, it’s also a media environment in which the New York Times is outsourcing a borough blog to graduate students.*
AP has done a few things that call into question how comfortable and knowledgeable it is with respect to all things digital, and it’s hard to see how the loss of AP would create a content vacuum at Google. Still, print and digital media need to coexist for the foreseeable future, something Google may see more clearly than others.
*I think this is exactly the wrong move by the New York Times, but that’s a topic for a different blog post.