Advertising Age has a great example of the complete and utter incompetence many newspaper executives still have when it comes to the web.
Then in January, Martin Nisenholtz, New York Times Co. senior VP-digital operations, got up at the annual Online Publishers Association summit in Florida, an event closed to the press, to blast both the algorithm and the results presentation on the screen.
He’d just run a search for Gaza, which had been at war with Israel since Dec. 27. Google returned links to outdated BBC stories, Wikipedia entries and even an anti-Semitic YouTube video well before coverage by the Times, which had an experienced reporter covering the war from inside Gaza itself.
Search results for “Gaza” on March 20 began with two Wikipedia links, a March 19 BBC report, two video clips of unclear origin, the CIA World Factbook, a Guardian report and, most strikingly, a link to Gaza-related messages on Twitter.
The last paragraph isn’t quite accurate. What shows up is not a report from the Guardian on Gaza, but rather a portal-style page where The Guardian has *gasp* actually assembled a page listing all of its recent news stories on Gaza along with links to videos, photographs, commentary and assorted other resources on Gaza.
Now, there’s nothing stopping the New York Times from creating a similar aggregation page, except that it is too busy whining at publisher meetings and tinkering with nonsense like ACAP to think about what its readers (and, in turn, Google) might find valuable.
The reason the NYT didn’t show up on on the first page of a Google search on Gaza is quite simply that it didn’t deserve to. Maybe it can borrow more money Carlos Slim Helú to buy a clue. It might start by finding a VP of digital operations who knows what he’s doing.