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.