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Nieman Journalism Lab: Google News and the ‘blog’ label

October 6th, 2009 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism, Search

So what’s a blog and does it matter? Google News has started – arbitrarily it seems – applying the ‘(blog)’ label to some sites and not others.

It’s all a bit weird, says the Nieman Journalism Lab’s Zachary M. Seward.

“On both technical and philosophical levels, there’s no meaningful difference between blogs that publish news and news sites that aren’t published as blogs. Many news organizations place material on both types of platforms without considering the content any different. Some use blogging software like WordPress to produce sites that look nothing like blogs.”

His analogy explains it brilliantly:

“Dividing content along these lines is like classifying brownies based on whether they were baked in aluminum or glass pans. There’s no difference, and it obscures what you really want know: if they contain chocolate chips.”

Full post at this link…

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Nieman Journalism Lab: NYTimes’ pulled post lives on

September 9th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Newspapers, Online Journalism

An incident at the New York Times shows that news lives on even when it’s taken offline.

The Nieman Journalism Lab tells the story of two NYT posts: one, which named the alleged blogger behind NYTPick.com, now removed; and another, updated with the journalist David Blum’s denial.

But at least part of the piece was easily recoverable via Google News and RSS readers (including the NYT’s own Times Wire).

NJL’s Zachary M Seward comments that ‘this is a lesson that removing content from the web is a futile task, particularly for big news sites’.

“And if a story needs to be retracted, if that’s the case here (update: it is), then we need better ways to do it than just pulling content off the web.”

Full post at this link…

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Google’s Spotlight – highlighting journalism of ‘lasting value’

September 4th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism, Search

A new feature has been added to Google News, Spotlight, which (according to a very brief explanation by Google) is :

“(…) section of Google News [that] is updated periodically with news and in-depth pieces of lasting value. These stories, which are automatically selected by our computer algorithms, include investigative journalism, opinion pieces, special-interest articles, and other stories of enduring appeal.”

By looking at both the search engine’s own explanation of Google Spotlight and the selection of stories it has flagged up so far, Nieman Journalism Lab’s Zachary M. Seward suggests, “Spotlight shines on longer features that have bounced around blogs for a few days.”

According to Seward, lifestyle and opinion pieces fare well, while the New York Times is a frequent source. He does see potential for the new section, however, as a way of using people’s online activity to highlight interesting and important material.

[Laura Oliver adds: The usefulness of Spotlight will perhaps be greater for those who use Google News as their first port of call for the day's headlines - but what portion of Google News' users behave in this way (figures welcome) needs to be taken into account.]

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