How Web 2.0 is your News

Google Blogoscoped announced on Wednesday that Google News is adding a new feature.

Google News Adds (Special) Comments:

Google News USA is rolling out an experimental feature that lets people or organizations who are part of a news story add a comment to the news. “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,” (Lenssen)

New Google News Feature
As someone who has been misquoted on more than one occasion in the media, and having worked in a state governmental agency, where the pressures are enormous working under the “final” eye of the media, the ability to turn news into more of a conversation, among those directly involved is intriguing.

The Blogospcoped report covers this point as well…

News reports already often interview “all sides” of the story, but they don’t always do – and they might also use selective quoting to skew an issue, either to push through an agenda of the publishing house, or just because the article’s author was keen to make a certain point.

Steve Rubel, at Micro Persuasion (a PR blog), reported on the announcement the same day, and suggests, with some concern, that PR firms might respond to News items with the power of their media skills, and perhaps turn Google News into an editorial source. (Rubel)

Blogoscoped continues…

this feature might also aid to dilute news reports; imagine, say, an Associated Press reporter who researched some weeks to come up with an incredibly fact-checked piece about food poisoning with Acme Inc’s products. Acme Inc, trying to prevent an image scandal, now issues a factually wrong but well-written counter-statement to Google News, who will put it next to the news bits. Readers might now figure, “Oh, AP got it wrong I guess, there’s the counter-statement right there, I’ll move on to other news.”

So, where’s Walter Cronkite when you need him?  Where do we go for the safety and comfort of truth?  Or do we rejoice in being freed from the tyranny of broadcasted truth?  I suspect that it doesn’t matter.  There’s no going back.  Our information infrastructure has technically restructured itself, and we live in the age of the multicast. 

The only comfort — our ONLY safety — is in people who are critical thinkers, skilled information workers, who ask questions about the answers that they find — by habit. 

That puts the ball in our court, teachers.

Lenssen, Philipp. “Google News Adds (Special) Comments.” [Weblog Google Blogoscoped] 8 Aug 2007. 11 Aug 2007 <>.
Rubel, Steve. “Google News Now Has Feedback, Editing and More Risk.” [Weblog Micro Persuasion] 8 Aug 2007. 11 Aug 2007 <>.

5 thoughts on “How Web 2.0 is your News”

  1. Very intriguing. I all ready view the news with a healthy amount of skepticism. I’m sure most thinkers will continue to critically analyze the sources and comments. But alas, not everyone is a critical thinker. I wonder how Google will verify the authenticity of the person who is commenting.

  2. As someone who spent 20 years as a TV news reporter, I think this is a good idea, but I’m unceasingly amused by people who think the news media distorts their reporting because they have an ax to grind (according to Blogoscoped,”they might also use selective quoting to skew an issue, either to push through an agenda of the publishing house, or just because the article’s author was keen to make a certain point.”)Reporters make mistakes, but it’s mainly because they have tremendous workloads and impossible deadlines.

  3. John Kain, you make an excellent point, and I agree, from my own experience, that it typically is not the news agency’s agenda that is filtering the reporting. I suspect that it is, instead, their reader’s agenda. I’ve seen stories intentionally bent toward anti-government (government is wasteful, government wants to raise your children, government is incompetent) because that’s what patrons want to read, or to sensationalize a story, because people want to be entertained.

  4. I’m wondering if in addition to Walter Cronkite we might also have Miss Manners help mediate some of these public comments on Google and other sites! They do take on the entertainment slant in many cases, and intelligent discourse is sacrificed by a slippery slope sometimes even to vitriol. My local county paper in Morris County, NJ has a paper that allows anonymous commentary and it can really get, well, ugly, and the people who might post something to add substance are taken aback by the tone.

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