The Financial Times reports that Google was considering either buying or using its charitable arm to support underwater news businesses like The New York Times Company, but is now unlikely to pursue either option. In an interview with FT.com, CEO Eric Schmidt cooled the speculation, saying that Google had looked into buying a newspaper but was "trying to avoid crossing the line" between technology and content. Instead, he said the company is working with publishers to optimize their sites for online advertising.
Schmidt noted that the "clever idea" of sheltering newspapers in non-profit structures had been suggested to Google.org, the company's nonprofit arm, but Schmidt said this was "unlikely to happen without some massive, massive set of corporate bankruptcies."
Schmidt wouldn't comment on speculation about Google buying a stake in the beleaguered New York Times Company, though he did say that Dreamworks cofounder David Geffen would make "an excellent owner." He added that subscriptions and micropayments, which are being floated as supplements to falling ad revenues, would only work for highly specialized news content.