British Papers Buy Google Words

British newspapers are buying words in the news on the Google search engine, so that when people type them in, that paper will be listed first.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

How much would you pay for North Korea nuclear test? The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the latest field of combat between competitive British newspapers is to buy words in the news on the Google search engine, so that when people type them in that paper will be listed first. North Korea nuclear test was bought by the Daily Telegraph. The Sun has bought George Bush, so to speak.

The Times of London buys about ten phrases a week. Nancy Pelosi and Alexander Litvinenko are two recent purchases. During the summer, the Times and Telegraph had a bidding war over the rights to the word ashes, the shorthand name for an annual cricket competition between England and Australia. The Times also bought the right to misspelled versions of the word, like A-H-S-E-S.

American news organizations have so far been slow to follow. NPR has reportedly investigated the possibility of buying the words Cokie, as this analysis, and Poggioli.

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