Searching for reliable and objective news items is becoming more and more difficult as each days goes by.
You either have to rely on independent news sources outside of the mainstream media, or you do risk of being flooded with a prep-packaged bulk of news stories serving specific interests and agendas but scarcely verified and questioned by the very information guardians working for us in the news industry.
Google and other online services have apparently helped this problem by becoming aggregators of many and different news sources and allowing individuals to read and find stories of interests without having to depend on a unique source.
But their contribution to levelling and opening up Internet users to a more objective kind of reporting and news publishing maybe deeply ill-fated unless we all get to be informed about a few critical details relevant to how these information giants assemble and deliver news items to us.
In its Google News (Beta) page, Google management states:
"The headlines on the Google News homepage are selected entirely by a computer algorithm, based on many factors including how often and on what sites a story appears elsewhere on the web...
...Google News relies in a similar fashion on the editorial judgment of online news organizations to determine which stories are most deserving of inclusion and prominence on the Google News page."
Google goes on to state: "Google News is highly unusual in that it offers a news service compiled solely by computer algorithms without human intervention.".
But who wrote the algorithms?
Who selected the news sources?
Who decided how to rank and value each?
I believe that Google needs to answer a few basic questions to ensure that the perception of what they are providing does indeed match what they do deliver.
Who are the elected online news organizations that Google has selected? Should we know?
Google owes us a bit more transparency about the how it automatically prepares the Google News page.
As Google proudly claims that it provides and objective and independent view on global news by continuously crawling over 4,500 news sources worldwide, it would be appropriate, if not altogether due, to look a bit more in detail at how this ambitious and fascinating task is achieved.
10 Questions For Google News
1) Which are the news sources being crawled? Can this be made public? Why keep it a secret?
2) Is there a balance being stroke between the news sources owned by American-Western interests and other news originators?
3) How much are news sources from non Western countries covered?
4) Are there at least one or two news sources included for each and every nation on this planet?
5) How many of the news sources listed in:
70 Free, Alternative and Independent Online News Sources
"Look Beyond The Networks For News On The Iraq Conflict"
are included in Google News crawl?
(Not that I represent any kind of master reference, but I guess that if you want to portray "world news" from an objective viewpoint, you need indeed to widen a bit the sources you include in your gathering effort).
6) What are the relevancy criteria utilized?
7) In the ideas of its developers is Google News to be perceived as a mirror of what the mainstream US news media reports, or is it indeed an attempt to provide a more objective and balanced look at world news with no particular preference?
8) If Google has taken a well deserved seat for being a quality, ethical and true-to-the-facts search engine, why does its News service not reflect this approach as well?
9) How can objective news reporting be based on the notion that the more exposure a news item has the more it should rise to the top of news? If this approach is gradually sold as an intelligent approach then we will have more and more news at the mercy of those who can pay more to have greater visibility, reach and attention. While that may have been the case for a while already across all mainstream news outlets, Google has all the right and technology to offer us an effective alternative. Why isn't it doing so?
10) According to modern journalism principles and best practices the best news reporting is the one that provides as many sides and views to the story, with factual references and witnesses, as possible. Is Google providing only the news from the strongest or is it mathematically balancing who has power to scream with whom has actual alternative facts and independent views to share?
Google world famous Web index powering its main search facility is not editorially managed and filtered. If you have a page of content out there and some other Web site links to you, your page is basically "in".
On the other hand, for news to be news on Google, either your newspaper has been lucky enough to have been selected among the elected ones or you may just forget about objective reporting. Or am I wrong?
What is missing, is what Google tentatively and timidly describes when saying: "While the sources of the news vary in perspective and editorial approach, their selection for inclusion is done without regard to political viewpoint or ideology. While this may lead to some occasionally unusual and contradictory groupings, it is exactly this variety that makes Google News a valuable source of information on the important issues of the day". Yes, I wish that was indeed and more what Google offered me. But the more I read Google news the more I realize how much more I need to be aware and questioning of the objective and diversified world reporting they are supposed to represent.
While awaiting Google response.
(You can submit your doubts to Google as well by emailing them at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Example: If we were to look and to believe at what is hinted and shown on the short articles entitled "The Photographs Tell The Story"
(http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/ article2842.htm) and "A Tale Of Two Photos"
then we would have to conclude that much of the news we have been looking at may have not really been a factual portrait of what was really happening.
I think this is a worthwhile consideration to make.
You can read the original post here.
thank you very much for taking the time to write Google. While we are not able to share the full list of 4500 news sources at this time, we are accepting nominations for inclusion. If you believe a source you value is not already a part of Google News, feel free to submit it to us by sending a note to email@example.com. We are constantly adding to our list and would be happy to consider your suggestions.
The headlines on the Google News Search homepage are selected entirely by a mathematical algorithm, based on many factors including how often and where a story appear elsewhere on the web. For competitive reasons, we do not reveal the details of how the Google algorithms work."
The Google Team