This is an interesting new visual window to Google News. It feels a bit more like zapping news channels than with the old, more text-oriented Google News frontpage, and Daniel Garcia in the forum wonders if these are the first steps towards a Google News video news version.
However, as all imagery is picked algorithmically & automatically – or so we have reason to assume, as Google claims “Google News has no human editors selecting stories or deciding which ones deserve top placement” (they only decide which publications to include) – the images are not always directly conveying any meaning. Sometimes, the thumbnail will just be a generic stock photo, like a hand on a keyboard, with little relation to a specific story. Additionally, the photos are cropped where necessary to fit into the square size, and this removes context. And the subtitle for many stories is much, much too short to make any sense of it. Here are two examples of what I would consider sub-optimal image selections (not to say this can be easily prevented algorithmically-- and not to say that an 80% well-working tool isn’t useful!):
The headline of this is too short to make sense (beyond the mere “iPhone” keyword). The image is too small to read what’s on the sign behind the man, which you will only see when you click-through to the story (it contains the words “the wait is almost over ... iPhone ... Friday, June 29”).
What are you going to make of a cut-off head and the headline “Google escalate..."? Without reading the full headline, this image won’t do its job in giving you a first glimpse of the news.
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