For journalists who wanted to spend an hour with Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the challenge was finding them. But the payoff was catching a glimmer of optimism about the news business.

After tracing a labyrinthine route to Google’s meeting room, reporters heard the search giant’s founders express just a hint of optimism about newspapers, which have struggled to hold onto advertising and readers as online readership has soared. “It will be a long time before displays will be as good as paper,” said Mr. Page, who gets his news online. “I’m still a believer in paper.”“Papers will have to focus more on creating unique content,” Mr. Brin added. “I think unique content is going to become a lot more valuable.” He also said he worries about the small number of professional journalists, which he said is too low for the world’s information needs. “I think it’s a problem for the world.”

During the hour-long session, the two comforted the assembled journalists by assuring them it wasn’t Google’s goal to put newspapers out of business. “I would like to see a strong, healthy ecosystem encouraging people to do what you guys do, ” Mr. Brin said.