Google News Checks into Rehab on its 10th Birthday
Google News turned 10 years old on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.
Although there was a post by Krishna Bharat, Distinguished Scientist and Founder of Google News, on the Google News Blog to mark the milestone, there wasn’t a Google Doodle to commemorate the event.
If I were a member of the team at Google News, that would take the starch out of my shorts.
What’s the story?
Google News was launched 10 years ago with 4,000 news sources. Back then, Stephanie Olsen of CNET News interviewed Marissa Mayer, the Google product manager who had developed the tool with five staff engineers over the previous nine months.
“This product is about innovation,” Mayer said. “This development isn’t about bringing all services to all people. This is about developing an interesting piece of technology.”
So, what does this interesting piece of technology do?
Google News is a computer-generated news site that now aggregates headlines from more than 50,000 news sources worldwide, groups similar stories together in “clusters,” and then displays them according to each reader’s personalized interests. Ten years ago, this was a paradigm shift.
Traditionally, news readers first picked a publication and then looked for headlines that interested them. Google News does things very differently. It offers links to several articles on every story, so its readers can first decide what subject interests them and then select which publishers’ accounts of each story they’d like to read.
Over the past decade, this paradigm shift has been a little unsettling to some editors, despite the fact that when Google News readers click on the headline that interests them, they go directly to the site which published that story.
But what really gets their knickers in a twist is the fact that Google News finds and displays press releases by crawling selected press release distribution services, as if they were just another source of useful and timely news information.
On Jan. 23, 2006, Bharat announced on the Official Google Blog, “We’re taking Google News out of beta! When we launched the English-language edition in September 2002, we entered untested waters with a grand experiment in news browsing – using computers to organize the world’s news in real time and providing a bird’s eye view of what’s being reported on virtually any topic.”
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He added, “We've certainly gotten a lot of feedback from both readers and editors. For example, readers told us they loved the news clusters but they didn’t want press releases on the home page (although they are still useful to have in the search results).”