Google Wants People In The News To Clarify News Reports

from the interesting-ideas dept

There’s an old saying about the press, that whenever you’re involved in a news story, you can almost guarantee that the press coverage will get the story wrong. It’s amazing how true this is — but it appears that Google News is trying to do something about it. It’s launching a new service that will let those who are involved in a particular news story comment on the news coverage on Google News. That is, if there’s a story about you, you’ll have the opportunity to add your own perspective (or counter any points you disagree with in the news coverage) and have it shown on Google News linked to the relevant news stories. It’s an interesting idea, though it has a number of hurdles to overcome. First of all, Google just set themselves up to be besieged by people who want to comment on a story who aren’t actually participants (or by people pretending to be part of the story). The hassle of figuring out who’s really part of the story isn’t going to be easy. In fact, it seems like it would almost definitely be more costly than whatever benefit this might bring. On top of this, Danny Sullivan lays out a number of problems with this idea in the link above, starting with the fact that people already have the ability to post their own thoughts on their own sites. Wouldn’t it simply make a lot more sense if Google and its magical algorithm did a better job of associating such responses to the news stories? Still, in an age where Congress still thinks the Fairness Doctrine is needed, here’s yet another example of how technology is making sure that everyone has ample opportunity to get “their side” out on any particular story.

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Comments on “Google Wants People In The News To Clarify News Reports”

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14 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Sorry, Mike. For it to have the intended benefit, it would have to appear in the same place as the original story or very close – on the same site.

Otherwise, people wouldn’t even know there was a rebuttal, or might have trouble finding it.

Let’s not obfuscate – it wouldn’t be very hard to make sure the rebuttal came from the office of the article’s target.

BTW – the Fairness Doctrine, pretty much as it originally was, is still a very good idea. All upside and no down.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Sorry, Mike. For it to have the intended benefit, it would have to appear in the same place as the original story or very close – on the same site.

The appearance doesn’t need to be any different. Right now, if the person comments, it would show up right after the original story on Google News as a link. There’s no reason that link can’t be to the source.

Otherwise, people wouldn’t even know there was a rebuttal, or might have trouble finding it.

Again, the appearance would be identical.

Let’s not obfuscate – it wouldn’t be very hard to make sure the rebuttal came from the office of the article’s target.

It would take a lot of manpower to make sure of that actually. For very little benefit.

BTW – the Fairness Doctrine, pretty much as it originally was, is still a very good idea. All upside and no down.

I like how you make a broad statement without a single fact to back it up.

However, I see plenty of downside:

1. It assumes that there are two sides to every story. That either obfuscates the more nuances aspects of a story, hides additional viewpoints entirely, or potentially raises the importance of a ridiculous position. That’s a huge downside.

2. It stifles free speech by forcing a news provider to think carefully before airing any opinion, knowing that some random “other side” will be required to get equal time.

3. It’s not necessary. There are nearly infinite other arenas where any party can get out their position.

4. It opens the door for more gov’t restrictions on free speech.

Shall I go on? To say that there are no downsides is flat out wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

BTW – the Fairness Doctrine, pretty much as it originally was, is still a very good idea. All upside and no down.

I like how you make a broad statement without a single fact to back it up. However, I see plenty of downside:
1. It assumes that there are two sides to every story.

I say you’re both wrong, the Fairness Doctrine has both upside and downside. 😉

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Fairnes Doctrine

1. If there are more than two sides to a story – ten or a huundred more, they should air. If some are “ridiculous”, they will be exposed as such. I’d rather give readers the opportunity to make that judgement rather than leave it up to any publisher. And there is nothing in your argument that states why nuances would have to be suppressed.If you want your argument to prevail, make a logical case with good research and writing.

Winning your point by suppression of your opponents arguments is not good for democracy; it’s the way North Korea operates.

2. So, “forcing a news provider to think carefully before airing any opinion” because someone can reply stifles free speech?

Are you kidding? That doesn’t stifle free speech. It allows more free speech. Why should anyone with good intentions be afraid of an opposing opinion?

3. An immense number of people do not use the internet the way you and I do. They rely on newspapers, magazines, radio and TV; and it will be that way for the foreseeable future.

If it were so easy to publicize opinions, why would political candidates have to raise millions of dollars to run for office? Where do they spend it all? They do it so they can get their opinions out. A few of us don’t have that much money; but we might have very good ideas.

4. You seem to believe that providing more opportunitites for differing opinions to be heard is a restriction on free speech. More opportunities to state your views equals restrictions? Sorry, that doesn’t compute.

If I wanted to win an election, get people to believe the way I believe, or motivate them to carry out my wishes, I would want to limit their ability to express their opposition publicly.

Limiting the public airing of ideas is not promoting free speech. We all can’t own news outlets – even on the internet.

With all sincere respect, your arguments are Orwellian.

Sean L says:

Re: Re: Re: Fairnes Doctrine

“If I wanted to win an election, get people to believe the way I believe, or motivate them to carry out my wishes, I would want to limit their ability to express their opposition publicly.”

that’s non sense, that’s how it’s BEEN done…

Campaign money is not spent on their campaign as much as you think, and if you try to limit their ability to express opposition publicly, you’re wasting you’re time. If you miss some venue, then the opposed will all huddle around that idea and then you would have no “good,” clean and productive way to address the opposing views. I would call you a liar.

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