Google Blogoscoped

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Google News Adds (Special) Comments

Google News USA is rolling out an experimental feature that lets people or organizations who are part of a news story add a comment to the news. “Our long-term vision is that any participant will be able to send in their comments, and we’ll show them next to the articles about the story. Comments will be published in full, without any edits, but marked as ’comments’ so readers know it’s the individual’s perspective, rather than part of a journalist’s report,” Google writes in their Google News blog. This feature was foreshadowed in internal Google documents that leaked in 2006.

To participate in this program, you can start by searching for your own name in Google News. For any story you find that you feel deserves a second view, you can then write to, including your comment, a link to the story, your contact details, and information how your contact information can be verified. For instance, if your organization is Coca-Cola and includes the email address, then a verification might consist of simply checking if someone received the reply sent to This verification process is slightly atypical for Google as it’s very manual, meaning it may also need a lot of workers to handle this as it’s not automated.

I’m curious to see how this Google News process will work out; it’s an original, fresh way to look at news aggregation. News reports already often interview “all sides” of the story, but they don’t always do – and they might also use selective quoting to skew an issue, either to push through an agenda of the publishing house, or just because the article’s author was keen to make a certain point. And the news report might not have a comments function of its own. In that situation, individuals who have no access to large publications (nor much time to ensure their view is printed in the publication) will now be able to push their view right on Google News. And even if you don’t want to correct an article’s statements, if you were involved in the news you might have additional first-hand information that add new perspective. “By commenting to us you can help us increase the number of diverse and meaningful points of view on the news,” the Google News comments help reads.

On the other hand, this feature might also aid to dilute news reports; imagine, say, an Associated Press reporter who researched some weeks to come up with an incredibly fact-checked piece about food poisoning with Acme Inc’s products. Acme Inc, trying to prevent an image scandal, now issues a factually wrong but well-written counter-statement to Google News, who will put it next to the news bits. Readers might now figure, “Oh, AP got it wrong I guess, there’s the counter-statement right there, I’ll move on to other news.”

Google News, in any case, can use this comment feature to position themselves even stronger as the access point for news reports. It can turn the site from a read-only news portal to a read-write news meeting point, if people make use of this feature and the Google News moderators verify submissions speedily and rather objectively.

News comments each have a permalink, and clicking on “More” will expand the full text. A link points to the commenter’s homepage, if any, and a disclaimer below reads, “The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Google Inc. or its employees,” pointing to the help pages for more information.

If anyone spots a News comment in the wild, please add a link in the comments! Here are two examples already.



Blog  |  Forum     more >> Archive | Feed | Google's blogs | About


This site unofficially covers Google™ and more with some rights reserved. Join our forum!