Google announced this major event quietly on a Friday before a major holiday. That in itself is highly interesting, but will not be the focus of this discussion. At 10:48AM (not sure what time zone) on Friday, August 31st, 2007 Google News Business Project Manager Josh Cohen wrote a post ironically entitled “Original Stories from the Source” which announced a significant change of aggregating AP and other news stories into one entry that will be more prominently featured.
While I applaud the removal of this duplicate content highly (I hope they do this in search results as well – Matt Cutts can you tell me?), all one has to do is Google – AP sucks – to see that there are many people that would likely highly disagree with making the AP stories more prominent. Furthermore, AP stories lack transparency, ie contact information for a real reporter. I would suggest and hope that Google would create a feedback mechanism to the reporter as some sensitive topics are better handled personally rather than in topics. Remember the Duke Lacrosse incident? The AP spread inaccuracy during that incident that led to innocent people having their lives damaged by being prosecuted in the national media quoting questionable people not even closely related to the case. (Ironically none of those AP stories can be found easily on Google today when I searched.)
I’ve got a few points I’d like to make here:
1. Danny Sullivan wrote an excellent post that you should read on this that properly linked to the source Google blog (Not to Blogger team: Danny’s link isn’t showing on the blogs that linked to this feature).
2A. The New York Times inappropriately did not link to the source Google News blog when they wrote a short, non-value adding fluff piece the next day. A reader of that publication was deprived of their ability to click through to that Google News post as were other bloggers. All mainstream news sources and blogs should link to original news sources whenever possible so that people can see the original detailed source content. I’d like to call on journalism schools, universities and standards bodies to join together to make this the standard protocol a reality in the future.
2B. To show the dysfunction that occurs when news media or blogs do not link directly to a source blog I’ll point to Jeff Jarvis’ post on the subject. I appreciate Jeff as an elder statesman in the blogosphere, however when he read the New York Times fluff piece (you can read the link in Jeff’s post) he was deprived of seeing the original Google blog post. This caused two unfortunate things to occur 1) Jeff likely did not read the Google Blog post because there was not link to the source and 2) Jeff unknowingly committed an act that adversely affected Google’s search algorithm by linking to the New York Times story, I’m almost certain Jeff would linked to the Google News Blog or other in depth commentary if he were aware of it, in fact I’d encourage him to update his post to add a link to the actual source.
3. In this case the source story is a blog, which is an increasingly common occurence. As I’ve stated many times before, I think Google should revamp the increasingly outdated separation of blogs and news sites, if news starts on a blog and is linked to it should be the relevant source document in Google News…
4. The ultimate irony in all of this is the Google News original source blog entry that started all of this Original Stories from the Source – is not in Google News itself! Google, until you incorporate blogs fully into Google News and allow users the option to see all news and blog sources together, you likely will not have this original source thing nailed down quite right and I highly encourage you to do so.
I look forward to thoughtful conversation and hopefully progress towards adoption of the concepts above in the coming weeks. Thanks for joining this important conversation.