The problem with playing to an audience is that sometimes what you say offends an entirely different audience.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt was speaking at the American Society of News Editors conference this week. As you can imagine, newspaper companies are hungry for a little TLC these days. Many print-media bigwigs see Schmidt's aggregator as an enemy -- falsely, but that's another story -- so it made sense to butter them up instead of offering up a blunt assessment.

"We're not in the news business, and I'm not here to tell you how to run a newspaper," he said, as retold by Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab. "There is an art to what you do. And if you're ever confused as to the value of newspaper editors, look at the blog world. That's all you need to see. So we understand how fundamental tradition and the things you care about are."

Ouch! Did Schmidt really just slam the blogging community?

Let's think this through.

Google owns Blogger.com, the Web's leading blog site. Google's AdSense program relies on publishers that syndicate the search engine's targeted ad network, with many of those partners serving as blogs themselves.

Maybe Schmidt needs to remember where his friends are. We're living in times that find News Corp. (NYSE: NWS) threatening to cut off access to Google's search crawls. Before that, we had New York Times (NYSE: NYT) executive editor Bill Keller announcing last year that "if you're inclined to trust Google as your source for news, Google yourself."

Google doesn't have to insult its friends to make new enemies. All it had to do was coat itself in sympathetic hues. AOL (NYSE: AOL) and InterActiveCorp (NYSE: IACI) didn't exactly light up the dot-com scoreboard when the traditional advertising market tanked last year.

Google, on the other hand, works. And it works for newspapers hoping to make an online presence, and it works for the hobbyist blogger who's making pocket change as a small AdSense publisher.

Anyway, it's right for Schmidt to reach out to desperate print companies. There's no reason Google can't be to newspapers what Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) was to the music industry. The major labels resisted the digital revolution at first, but Apple finally won them over through high-margin monetization of prerecorded music.

It's not too late for Big G to be everybody's friend. Let's just hope Schmidt doesn't turn old friends into new enemies.

Can Google win over bloggers and seasoned journalists alike? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz still uses Google a lot in his daily life. He owns no shares in any of the companies in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.