In a turn quite modern and meta, Barron's did investors a disservice by treating a post from a Google senior vice president like an official press release.
senior vice president for global sales and business development, recently
that his company's deal with
to share search and advertising, announced yesterday, was the greatest thing ever and would face no serious regulatory trouble.
Shortly thereafter, a
technology blog, eager for material and obviously pressed for time, ran the Google blog -- without adding more than a wink of perspective.
And though the Google-Yahoo! partnership is nearly too complex for words, it took half an hour for
to publish a counter-post containing strong remarks from a senator with anti-trust concerns.
As more companies use blogs in addition to press releases to convey information, investors need to be wary and shrewd. Blogs give companies a means to serve their own interests in a more conversational and engaging style. And that, clearly, is dangerous.
After all, you don't have to look around the margins to realize that the prospect of a Google-Yahoo! search-ad hookup deal is complex and, in terms of anticompetitive rules, somewhat fraught.
, spurned, bitter and powerful, will try to sabotage the deal. Google has already run into regulatory resistance this year, even without Microsoft whispering in the Justice Department's ear, and this all takes place on the cusp of a political shift that's likely to lead to more anti-competitive rulings.
And yet, Kordestani blithely asserted that Google's deal with Yahoo! is the best thing since sliced bread and that regulators won't give it a second though. It's not a merger than will choke the market, he chirped, but "a non-exclusive advertising agreement."
Make no mistake about it: Kordestani might be right. But considering the political winds and powerful parties involved, this is still complex. Google's well-rehearsed "don't-worry-about-it" spiel badly needs a counterargument.
The problem is that Kordestani's justification of the deal made for good copy to a business media starved for it and -- most important -- pressed for time. Journalists, forced to write in papers and online to save their own troubled enterprises, have to put out more, more, faster, faster.
Only a few hours after Google's blog post ran,
essentially reposted it with the barest of original content or commentary. Did it offer a dissenting opinion? No. Did it put the self-serving missive in any perspective? No, other than briefly mentioning that Kordestani's argument was counterintuitive.
Well, it's not counterintuitive that a top Google official would try to ram the deal through without a dissenting opinion. I'm guessing, though, that Washington, Microsoft and others might have a few dissenting opinions of their own.
eventually published a
, this one with the foreboding words from the Senate. But by then, the blog-within-a-blog had done damage, more than a traditional press release ever could.
At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column.
Marek Fuchs was a stockbroker for Shearson Lehman Brothers and a money manager before becoming a journalist who wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column for six years. He also did back-up beat coverage of The New York Knicks for the paper's Sports section for two seasons and covered other professional and collegiate sports. He has contributed frequently to many of the Times' other sections, including National, Metro, Escapes, Style, Real Estate, Arts & Leisure, Travel, Money & Business, Circuits and the Op-Ed Page. For his "Business Press Maven? column on how business and finance are covered by the media, Fuchs was named best business journalist critic in the nation by the Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fuchs is a frequent speaker on the business media, in venues ranging from National Public Radio to the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Fuchs appreciates your feedback;
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