Journalists should become bloggers to maintain their readers' loyalty online, Google's European boss has advised in an interview with Press Gazette.
"All journalists who are going to be in this business for a while need to become bloggers," Google European vice president Nikesh Arora said in an interview to be published in tomorrow's Press Gazette.
Established journalists who fail to develop their personal brands through blogging risk leaving the door open to upstart competitors, he warned.
Arora said: "People who are really knowledgeable, who can weigh both sides of an issue, who can write intelligently, are turning out to be the better bloggers. A lot of journalists carry the respect and loyalty of the readers, and the need to make sure they keep that community when they go online."
Readers still use newspaper brands as a signal that they can trust the information they are receiving online, Arora said: "I can get 20 different items on the Internet, but do I trust what I am getting?"
Arora rejected the suggestion that the Internet spells the death of newspaper, but suggested that it is "unbundling" their content.
"The internet is forcing a re-thinking of what is the package for a newspaper," he said.
Regional newspapers are well-positioned to weather the changes in the news business being caused by the Internet, he said, but could not halt the migration of classified advertising online.
"It is hard to create a unique selling point with national news these days, but there is a tremendous amount of local interest that cannot be picked up by the net easily," Arora said.
He also believes newspapers could make better use of their archives online.
"There is a hidden gold mine in the archives, and newspapers need to intelligently link their archives to their online presence," he said.
• Google this week announced the acquisition of "Orion" a search algorithm developed by Ori Allon, a 26-year-old graduate student in Australia. According to reports, Orion allows users to view the most relevant parts of a page directly from within a search engine.
The move is likely to reignite concerns in some news organisations that online news aggregators like Google News discourage users from clicking through to news organisations' web sites, depriving them of online advertising revenue.
In January, the World Association of Newspapers and a number of other online publishing bodies accused search engines like Google of developing their business "on the back of kleptomania." WAN managing director Ali Rahnema repeated these concerns last month at the Online Publishers Association conference in London, but many others in online journalism consider Google News an invaluable source of traffic to their web sites.