Google News seems to be getting hammered lately. Last month, we wrote how they seemed to be favoring just a few small sites. Last week, there were a bunch of stories about how Google News' political coverage might be unintentionally biased. Then, over the weekend, there was plenty of news coverage over Google's admission that they were blocking certain Chinese news links on purpose, as the Chinese government didn't like those sites. The latest, however, is an accusation that, thanks to Google News, there are no more exclusive stories any more. People don't remember who broke a story (unless, of course, they get it really, really wrong). The idea is that since Google groups together all of the coverage, plenty of "me toos" get credit for breaking the story. In fact, the article claims, since the latest version often gets top billing at Google News, editors have the incentive to make minor modifications on stories, so they're always appearing "updated" -- and always at the top of the Google News list. Google, of course, responds by pointing out that they don't just rank on date, and even claims that the system does take into account who broke the story. It's not clear if this is really a Google News issue so much as an internet issue. With the speed that news travels these days, almost any hot story seems to be followed quickly by others with nearly identical reports. Of course, there's also the ongoing debate about how much credit sources deserve for "breaking" certain news, and whether or not tools should be developed (sort of in reverse of what Google News is accused of doing) that would specifically show who really "broke" some news. At some point, of course, you have to wonder how much it really matters. Clearly, on some stories that involve in-depth investigative reporting, some amount of credit makes sense, but is there a point at which it gets silly? Do people care more about who broke a story than the news itself?
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