What Shoving Cheese Up your Nose, Eric Schmidt, and Susan Boyle Have in Common: You

05/25/2011 01:15 pm ET
  • Mike Hegedus Media consultant, Journalism Instructor and former CNBC correspondent

It was with a silly grin that I read about TV Week's selection of the NBC news honchos as the 'most powerful' person or in this case group, in TV news. You want to see power? Shove some cheese up your nose. Then, particularly if you work for a well-known pizza brand, post it on YouTube. I'll show you power. It received over a million hits. Next thing you know your jobs disappear and the company's CEO is reduced to posting a silly, 'We don't blow our noses on all our subs', statement also on YouTube. I think his Mom saw that one. Now that's power. Power to the one millionth degree.

But even phlegm can't go where homely singers can. Susan Boyle. What else needs to be said? 20 or 30 million hits now? Oops, I blinked. Is it up to 40 million? Being the 'most powerful' in TV news is like being a six star general in the Romanian army. Nice uniform, but did he say 'Charge!'?
The point is that the Internet has TV news beat six ways from Sunday when it comes to power. What does TV news have? Well, it has what all those fading newspapers have but for some reason never talk about. Editors. Watch dogs. Folks who are trained to smell 'a pig in a poke' and ask me about it before it goes on the air, or in print. And what does the Internet have for the most part? Snot on pepperoni. Enter Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

When Schmidt addressed the Newspaper Association of America recently it turned into, not a shoutfest, not a lovefest, but rather a nothingfest. Schmidt wished newspapers well, wished he could 'save' them, and the newspaper folks simply wished Google would stop using their content for free. Of course, they didn't really push that point, it was like a birthday wish, if you say it out loud it won't happen.

But the unaddressed issue in all of this is one of responsibility. Let's say I write an article for newspaper 'Y'. It's libelous. The target of the article reads it on Google. They're outraged! They sue. Who? Me? The newspaper? Google? I'm betting Schmidt is saying Yes to the first two, and No to the last one. After all Pete says, we didn't write it, we're just spreading it around the world! Fair use! Hmmmmmmmm.

And YouTube? Should they be punched in the nose in the Snotty Sandwich Caper? And in an even more serious case, what is Craiglist's responsibility in the recent murder tied to it? Here's something I thought I'd never hear myself say--Where are the editors?

I wonder if they're eating that sub I had sent over?