Google News Kills The Exclusive

from the break-what? dept

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?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    pb, Sep 27th, 2004 @ 12:32pm

    Mike's Recipe for No News

    Apply simple capitalism to the problem, and you'll see Mike has created the perfect recipe for news-free news. Capital holders need a reward for risk. So do reporters, as it's a reputation-based system. If you remove the incentive for reporters to break news - credit and sales - then they'll simply resort to regurgitating other people's copy. More lifestyle features and inane commentary. "... With the speed that news travels these days, almost any hot story seems to be followed quickly by others with nearly identical reports." Which Mike seems to think is good. But the breaking news comes from somewhere - bloggers rely on newspapers to break their stories, almost all of the time. "At some point, of course, you have to wonder how much it really matters." In which case, why is this goofball writing about it? Mike will rebut all this by counting the number of scoop's Techdirt has broken. Oops. Zero. So everything really is OK.

     

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  2.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Sep 27th, 2004 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Mike's Recipe for No News

    I didn't say the speed with which news stories are copied is good. It's just a fact. Neither good nor bad. Deal with it.

    Also, none of this was to suggest that Techdirt was in the business to break news. We're not. We're in the business of analyzing the news...

    Obviously, someone breaks the news, and good investigative reporting is still needed (which, gosh darnit, was pretty clear in the original post). The problem I was noting was when the focus is more on who breaks it, rather than what the news is.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    pb, Sep 27th, 2004 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Mike's Recipe for No News

    "Obviously, someone breaks the news, and good investigative reporting is still needed (which, gosh darnit, was pretty clear in the original post)."

    If you wanted to make that clear, you would have said so. Instead, you suggested that the whole business of giving credit was overrated, and no one cares who breaks the news. So back to your original whine. If no one gives credit to publications who invest in breaking news (which is expensive), what incentive is there to break news? Blather is much cheaper.

    Or will news just spontaneous "emerge", like Father Christmas? Over to you.

     

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  4.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Sep 27th, 2004 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Mike's Recipe for No News

    The complaint about always wanting credit was more targeted at the ongoing complaint from bloggers that someone didn't credit them for the Reuters story they posted...

    Anyway, I highly doubt most news organizations break stories for "the credit" they get from other news sources, but the overall attention they do get. Whether or not they get credit from other sources, a reputation is built such that people know which sources break news and tend to use them more.

    The point is, once again, as great as "breaking news" is, isn't the news more important than having it broken?

     

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