01:48 AM

GOOG Asks For Ideas On How To Help Online Newspapers

Google is making a commendable effort to show it is a friend of the newspaper industry following a series of attacks in recent months from Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corp. and Robert Thomson, the chief editor of the Wall Street Journal.

Earlier this week Google amended the way it indexes news sites so that it could maintain its "mission to index the world's information" while supporting publishers' subscription paywalls.

[An Olive Branch To Murdoch? Google News Updated To Deal With Paid Content]

This morning Josh Cohen, head of Google News, wrote that Google believes, "Journalism will not only survive, but thrive on the Internet. And we think we can help."

However, it appears that Google has run out of ideas:

Just as there's no single cause for the news industry's current struggles, there's no single solution. We would love your thoughts on additional ways we can help journalism thrive on the Internet. Feel free to tune in the webcast of the proceedings and share your ideas with us in the comments below.

So please help Google and help the struggling newspaper industry and leave an idea. I did. It's about using virtual cash:

Virtual currencies could offer the best of both worlds, providing a surrogate micropayments system, and an advertising model that pays more than CPM ads.

- Local businesses could provide wads of virtual currencies to online newspaper readers, either in exchange for something such as survey data, or as a complimentary service to build goodwill.

- Businesses could also provide virtual cash that could be associated with reading specific sections in a newspaper, say furniture sellers to the "Home" section. Best Buy could provide virtual cash for reading the gadgets pages, etc.

- News sites could reward readers with virtual cash for contributing user generated content, such as a popular column, or for photos.

- Virtual cash could be exchanged between blogs and other online publishers for republishing great content. And there are a myriad other creative ways virtual cash could be used in news media.

The beauty is that the virtual cash would be purchased from the news media publishers with cold, hard cash by businesses, instead of purchasing online ads.

The virtual cash then powers an entire dynamic economy within a news site that helps produce great content and provide other services.

Compare that to buying an online ad that just sits there, usually unnoticed on the side of the page. Virtual cash engages readers.

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