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New German law may impose fees on aggregated content use

March 8th, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Journalism, Legal, Online Journalism

Germany’s governing centre-right coalition has proposed a new copyright law which would see content aggregators such as Google News paying royalties every time they index search results from news websites.

The proposal, which is available (in German) on the German Press Agency’s website states:

Commercial traders out there, such as search engines and news aggregators, should pay a fee to the publishers in the future for the distribution of press products (such as newspaper articles) on the internet.

Citing the German government’s original agreement, which states that online publishers “are not meant to be worse off” than other industries, the legislators suggest that the fee period should last for one year.

The fee proposals do not cover individuals using the material for private purposes and private users “will not be affected” by the proposal to charge for access.

Google has previously been sued for copyright infringement by French publishing houses Albin Michel, Flammarion and Gallimard, after the search giant scanned nearly 10,000 books for its Google Books site without permission.

The publishers later dropped their case against Google, saying they wanted to seek an “amicable solution to the litigation”.

In a similar copyright dispute in the UK, the Court of Appeal rejected arguments from the Public Relationships Consultants Association and news clippings service Meltwater that exemptions to copyright law could be applied to the content of newspaper websites, according to law firm Pinsent Masons.

In the UK, users of a clipping service must now have a licence from publishers to click on links taking them to a news website to avoid infringing the publishers’ copyrights, says Pinsent Masons.

A copyright tribunal said:

We reject the argument that requiring end user licensing under the WEUL (the Web End User Licence issued by the NLA), and at the same rates as the WEUL, is unreasonable.”

If Meltwater want to offer a headline only service to their end users they are free to do so but the service must be licensed in the same way as the headline plus text extract service.”

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SplinterNet: How to get to the top of Google News

December 5th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Freelance, Search

The SplinterNet blog provides an interesting insight on how news organisations can increase their Google News ranking.

Writing on the blog, Oliver Conner explains that “Google doesn’t divulge the secrets of its trade – so it is up to the SEO specialists to try and work it out” and links to a September study which asked the top SEO practitioners of major news organisations what they thought were the most important factors.

He highlights some of the “most important/interesting considerations” – and the terrifying suggestion that one spelling mistake can “blacklist your site”.

1. Category authority – if you keep writing optimised stories about a topic then you will gain authority in that area;
2. Keywords in headline and page titles;
3. Domain authority – the news organisation domain has lots of quality inbound links’;
4. Social sharing – lots of tweets, Facebook shares and Google+ mentions. This is set to become more important, as it has recently been announced that articles that your friends have G+’d will be highlighted;
5. First to publish the story – this will increase the amount of inbound links;
6. Citation rank – the number of high quality sites that link to (cite) a news story;
7. Unique articles;
8. High CTR (click through rates) – the more clicks a site gets from either Google News or other Google SERPs (search engine results page);
9. Quality content – Google evaluates the quality of the content and looks for things like typos and copied content. Apparently, one spelling mistake can blacklist your site!
10. Use of Google News XML sitemap – a way of structuring your news site in a way that Google can easily understand.

The post “Getting to the top of Google News” is worth reading as it also includes other important factors to consider when thinking about optimising your news site for Google News.

Journalism.co.uk has a couple of handy guides on search engine optimisation:

Journalism.co.uk’s news:rewired – media in motion conference for journalists will have a workshop on SEO for journalists. The agenda is at this link.

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Google News US launches ‘standout’ tag so news sites can highlight top content

September 26th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism, Search, Traffic

Google News unveiled a new feature during a session at the Online News Association Conference in Boston at the weekend which will allow publishers to highlight their top content and give “even more credit where credit is due”, according to the Google blog.

At present the so-called “standout content” tag is only available on the US edition of Google News and it is not clear from the Google blog when it plans to roll out the new feature in the UK.

The Google blog explains how news sites can flag up top content:

If you put the tag in the HTML header of one of your articles, Google News may show the article with a ‘featured’ label on the Google News homepage and News search results. The syntax for this new tag is as follows:

 <link rel=”standout” href=“http://www.example.com/scoop_article_2.html” />
The post makes an important point:

Standout content tags work best when news publishers recognise not just their own quality content, but also the original journalistic contributions of others when your stories draw from the standout efforts of other publications. Linking out to other sites is well recognised as a best practice on the web, and we believe that citing others’ standout content is important for earning trust as you also promote your own standout work.

Google is asking news sites to use the tag a maximum of seven times a week so that it can recognise what is exceptional content.

  • The 10,000 Words blog was at Online News Association Conference and has more on the launch of the feature.
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News sites beware: Google News readers can block all blogs

Google News has made updates to allow users to further personalise the type of news they read.

Readers can now omit sites, choose to read more news from a selected site, increase or decrease the amount of blogs that appear or batch exclude all blogs from their Google News home page at one fell swoop.

Both blogs and news sites need to check how they are categorised by Google News. Just because you do not describe your site as a blog, doesn’t mean that Google News hasn’t listed you as one.

It is not clear how news sites can have their blog status removed but this form will allow your to flag it up with Google News

Hat tip: Search Engine Land

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#ijf11: ‘Innovation is about about throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks’

April 18th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Business, Events, Hyperlocal, Local media

Journalism conferences, as with all conferences I suspect, are always vulnerable to least a bit of tiresome industry navel-gazing, if not a lot. Even when they’re good, which the International Journalism Festival was, there is inevitably a lot of talking.

But on the last day of #ijf11 there was a welcome antidote in amongst the talk to round things off, a coherent message from several of the panelists: go out and do things, try things, find out what works. This particular session looked innovation in news, specifically at what it takes to go from having a good idea for a news site, to getting off the ground, to staying solvent.

Nigel Barlow trained as an accountant. He worked in small businesses for 20 years before he decided it was enough, and packed it in for a journalism course at UCLan.

Shortly after graduating Barlow co-founded Inside the M60, a local news site for the Manchester area. He told the #ijf11 panel that people need to start worrying less about the traditional journalism routes and start trying new things.

It’s a difficult time for journalism, but difficult times tends to bring out the best innovation. Don’t just look at the traditional routes, if you’ve got an idea just get on and do it. It’s abut throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.

A model example of getting on with it, Nigel was covering news for Inside the M60 before it even had a website.

Before the site was even there, we started to report on news in the area using Twitter, and created momentum for the site a few months before it launched.

We actively made connections with what I would call the local movers and shakers, MPs and businessmen for example.

We got a couple of big interviews with local MPs as well, which helped a lot at the beginning, and we were the first on the scene to cover a large gas explosion in Newham and were covering it live from the scene, after which we put about 1,500 followers in a couple of days.

We didn’t have a lot of money and we still don’t, so we have to make the most of free tools. But we got started by using social media and basically making a big noise on Twitter.

Using Barlow’s site as one example, Google News executive Madhav Chinnappa said the important thing was “the barriers to starting a news organisation have fallen”.

Fifteen years ago, starting a news organisation from scratch would have been impossible, but we have three people on this panel who have done exactly that.

And Chinnappa echoed Barlow’s sentiments on just getting on with it.

Google’s take on this is experimentation and interaction. Go out, try it, try it again, see what works.

He acknowledged it was difficult for smaller sites like Inside the M60 to get a decent ranking on Google news, and they would inevitably be dwarfed by the big global stories.

We know that if you’ve got a local news story that no one else has that it can be difficult to get out there. If you go to Google News and you don’t see an Inside the M60 story, that’s because they are getting outweighed by the likes of Fukushima and Libya.

And he acknowledged Google News was not giving proper due to certain types of content.

We’re not as good as we should be around video, or image galleries. And we’re almost playing catch up with the news organisations as they innovate, whether that’s graphics or slideshows.

But he also said there isn’t a magic formula to cracking Google, and argued that original, creative content was still important.

I think there is this myth about getting the technical aspect just right, and hitting on a formula and then you will suddenly be great on Google.

I don’t want to sound cheesy, but having good original content is still very important.

I spoke to Nigel Barlow after the session about making money as a local news startup:

Listen!

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BBC College of Journalism blog: Google not to blame for journalism’s woes

Peter Barron, former editor of BBC Newsnight and now director of external relations for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Google, has responded to ongoing criticisms that Google News is profiting off the back of content form news websites. In a guest post on the BBC College of Journalism blog Barron repeats the argument that Google News signposts readers towards stories – claiming one billion click-throughs a month from Google News to news websites.

He also refers to Google’s new online payment tool One Pass, which he identifies as a way of supporting news organisations “in finding their way through the current challenges”.

We work with publishers which have chosen the ad-supported model to help find ways to engage readers for longer, making the advertisements more valuable. We have built the One Pass payment tool to make it easier for publishers which want to charge for their content online, giving them flexibility to choose what content they charge for, at what price, and how – day-pass, one-time access, subscription and so on. And Google is investing in not-for-profit organisations to encourage innovation in digital journalism.

The full blog post is at this link.

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Google launches new ‘follow news’ feature in US

December 20th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Search

Google News has added a new feature which enables users to save news searches as a bookmark and also add to their Google News homepage.

The ‘follow news’ button is US-only at the moment and a spokesperson said Google does not have “a timeline” to bring the feature to the UK at this point.

Hatip: Search Engine Land

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Google News experiments with new metatags in drive to give credit where it’s due

November 17th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Data, Editors' pick, Online Journalism, Search

Google News has outlined two new metatags it is experimenting with as part of efforts to ensure journalists are correctly credited for their work, by identifying the URLs of syndicated and original copy. In an announcement on its blog yesterday, Google News said:

News publishers and readers both benefit when journalists get proper credit for their work. That can be difficult, with news spreading so quickly and many websites syndicating articles to others. That’s why we’re experimenting with two new metatags for Google News: syndication-source and original-source. Each of these metatags addresses a different scenario, but for both the aim is to allow publishers to take credit for their work and give credit to other journalists.

The first metatag, syndication-source, indicates the preferred URL for a syndicated article:

…if Publisher X syndicates stories to Publisher Y, both should put the following metatag on those articles: <meta name=”syndication-source” content=”http://www.publisherX.com/wire_story_1.html”>

Then for the original-source metatag, the code would indicate the URL of the first article to report on a story with the following: <meta name=”original-source” content=”http://www.example.com/burglary_at_watergate.html”>

In both cases the tags can be used by either the syndicator or journalist responsible for the original copy to identify their work, and then also those who use it in the production of their own reports to offer credit back to those parties.

Google News says that at the moment it will not make any changes to article ranking based on the original-source tag.

We think it is a promising method for detecting originality among a diverse set of news articles, but we won’t know for sure until we’ve seen a lot of data. By releasing this tag, we’re asking publishers to participate in an experiment that we hope will improve Google News and, ultimately, online journalism.

Read more on this here…

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Google News redesign for smartphones

November 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Mobile, Online Journalism

Yesterday Google announced a global rollout of its redesign for Google News on smartphones, which applies to Android, iPhone and Palm Pre handsets.

New features include an expansion of the story space to make tapping on articles easier and more accurate, as well as a “collapsed” initial view of news lists, offering one source as a default to cut down on scrolling. To view related articles from other sources users can tap on ‘More Sources’ for a list of other reports.

Full announcement on Google’s blog

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Will Google News build filters for ‘content farms’?

September 23rd, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Search

CNET’s interview with Krishna Bharat, the engineering head behind Google News, suggests the search company is going to change its approach to so-called “content farms” and networks of sites like Demand Media or Associated Content:

Bharat implied that Google is working on a way to refine the signals it uses to rank news stories in a way that filters out the most egregious examples of news spam without branding certain companies as offenders because of certain stories. “What we are very sensitive to is user experience, but we don’t want to be anecdote driven, we want to be sensitive to statistically relevant feedback,” he said.

Full interview on CNET at this link…

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