MediaNews Group, A.H. Belo Following Murdoch Out the Door at Google?

By: E&P Staff

Two more newspaper chains are echoing News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch’s rumblings about blocking content from Google’s search index.

In interviews reported by Bloomberg staffers Greg Bensinger and Brian Womack, executives at MediaNews Group, the nation’s second-largest newspaper publisher, and A.H. Belo, publisher of The Dallas Morning News and Providence (R.I.) Journal, are planning to block Google’s search engine from some content.

MediaNews Group CEO Dean Singleton said Google News will be blocked from accessing some content when it erects paywalls at the Web sites of some of its Pennsylvania and California newspapers next year.

“The things that go behind paywalls, we will not let Google search to, but the things that are outside the pay wall we probably will, because we want the traffic,” Singleton told Bloomberg.

A.H. Belo Executive Vice President James Moroney, who is also publisher of the Morning News, said the company is still considering various paid content models, but plans to erect a paywall within six months at one of its dailies. A.H. Belo may then decide to block Google, but a decision on that is not imminent, Moroney told Bloomberg.

“This is traffic that’s not being monetized to any great degree,” Moroney said. “It’s akin to a person who drops into town, buys one copy of your newspaper and leaves town again and yet you spend a whole bunch of time building your business around that type of customer.”

Separately, News Corp. has reportedly had talks with Microsoft about granting the software giant’s new search engine Bing exclusive access to content from its newspapers. Microsoft would pay a fee fro the content, according to the Financial Times, which first reported the talks.

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