Saturday, August 11, 2007

Google experiments with giving news subjects contiguous comment

Perspectives about the news from people in the news

Tuesday, August 7, 2007 10:32 PM

Posted by Dan Meredith and Andy Golding, Software Engineers, News Team

We wanted to give you a heads-up on a new, experimental feature we'll be trying out on the Google News home page. Starting this week, we'll be displaying reader comments on stories in Google News, but with a bit of a twist...

We'll be trying out a mechanism for publishing comments from a special subset of readers: those people or organizations who were actual participants in the story in question. 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.

As always, Google News will direct readers to the professionally-written articles and news sources our algorithms have determined are relevant for a topic. From bloggers to mainstream journalists, the journalists who help create the news we read every day occupy a critical place in the information age. But we're hoping that by adding this feature, we can help enhance the news experience for readers, testing the hypothesis that -- whether they're penguin researchers or presidential candidates-- a personal view can sometimes add a whole new dimension to the story.

We're beginning this only in the US and then, based on how things go, we'll work to expand it to other languages and editions. We're excited about the possibilities of this new feature and we hope you are too, so if you've been covered in a news article please send us your comments and we'll work with you to post it on Google News.


August 10, 2007, 10:30 am

Google's Fascinating News Experiment

By Stephen J. Dubner

I have long wondered if or when Google would get into the media business directly, buying up a newspaper company or three. My friends at Google always reply with the same mantra: We are a search company, not a content company. Okay.

Regardless, it's undeniable that Google has greatly affected how journalism is consumed in this country and, consequently but to a lesser degree, how journalism is created. Journalism is a market like any other, and it responds to market forces. Consider now this really fascinating idea that Google is rolling out: a feature that allows the subjects of news articles to comment on the published article.

This makes sense, doesnt it? The writer has his/her say by writing the article; the everyday reader gets to weigh in via the comments section; and now the subject gets to reply in a highlighted comment section.

If this becomes widely implemented (no guarantee), I think it will shake up a lot of people, mostly for the better. I always try to glean feedback from the subject of an article that I write, and I generally find it valuable. I can't think of a good reason why the subject shouldn't be allowed to speak up in a forum that everybody, and not just the writer, can see.

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