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

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.]

2 thoughts on “Google’s Spotlight – highlighting journalism of ‘lasting value’

  1. Seth Jacobson

    Hmmm. Not really sure of the value of this – I know of certain pieces that have “bounced around blogs for a few days” for reasons quite unrelated to good journalism. I also see that at the bottom of Spotlight at the moment is The Onion story: “Conspiracy Theorist Convinces Neil Armstrong Moon Landing Was Faked”. Seems like a fairly pointless innovation, trusting algorithms to make value judgments.

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