Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The End of Studio Briefing

As regular listeners to Sounds of Cinema are aware, every episode includes a news update in the first half of the show featuring articles from Studio Briefing. However, Studio Briefing has sent out this message, titled "We've Been De-googled!" which explains they have been forced to shut down.
Dear Readers,

As many of our longtime readers are aware, Studio Briefing is the longest-running entertainment-industry news publication on the Web. Launched as a fax-only subscription in 1992, we went online the following year when News Corp's Delphi Internet Services became our first Internet outlet, and we have existed as a paid subscription service and a syndicated online news service ever since.

With many of our client websites battered by the current economy and some of them biting the dust, we were encouraged by a few industry warhorses to lauch a unique blog that would link the items in our daily digest directly to the source material and give readers the opportunity to discuss them. We unveiled the blog last April, augmenting our items with a few images and YouTube videos, and were gratified by the response -- with many new readers registering their thanks for our no-frills presentation that provided a fast-reading overview of the issues and events affecting “the biz” in a compelling style.

To draw revenue from the blog, we initially included ads from Google Adsense, and to help attract attention to it, we purchased ads ourselves from Google AdWords that appeared on related entertainment-industry websites. But a few months after we launched we received a boilerplate notification from Google that had been "disabled" because it did not comply with Google policies. The notice was vague, failing to specify which policies we had violated. We have been trying to obtain an explanation ever since, without luck.

Not only did Google delete the Adsense advertisements appearing on the blog, but it diverted its spider from the site as well. As a result, ceased being cited in Google search results. Then, a few weeks ago, we received word that Google had also halted running our Adword advertisements “due to one or more serious violations of our advertising policies related to Landing Page and Site Quality.” Whatever that means. Moreover, it added, “We are unable to accept advertising from you in the future. Please note that future accounts you open will also be disabled.”

We have repeatedly asked Google to explain its decision and to provide guidance on how to bring into compliance with its policies. Our messages have either been ignored or we have received copies of their original boilerplate notifications.

We are in no position to battle Google on this. And without being included in Google search results we cannot draw sufficient readers to remain viable. We are therefore left with no alternative but to shut down.

We thank you for checking us out during the past months, and please check back here on occasion. We’re still hoping that a White Knight might ride to our rescue.

Lew Irwin

P.S. And if you’re interested in an email subscription (the edition includes no ads and subscribers get it first), we’ll make a special rate available to readers of this blog. Simply drop us a line, and we’ll provide details. We’d also like to hear your suggestions.
If what Irwin has written here is correct, the implications of Google's actions are frightening for anyone operating on the web, as they were effectively able to "quarantine" Studio Briefing and lead to its demise in a very short period.

As for Sounds of Cinema, the future of the news segment is at this point uncertain. I will have to search for another source or abandon it altogether. I have determined that the show, and especially this segment, not fall prey to the celebrity gossip that so much "entertainment news" has devolved into. There is very little serious treatment of the cinema in popular media and seeing another outlet go belly up is disheartening.

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