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The Media Businesses Google The Internet

Optimizing News Sites For Google News 422

Posted by michael
from the GIGO dept.
malibucreek writes "More trouble for Google News? Yesterday, it was Google News censoring stories for China. Today, the Online Journalism Review details a potential conservative bias in the site's algorithm for news search results. The story also includes some details about how Google ranks stories on its news page. Turns out that on Google News, backlinks do *not* improve search positioning."
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Optimizing News Sites For Google News

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  • by BoldAC (735721) on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:46PM (#10342025)
    keywords and phrases that match users' precise searches and to write in informal, accessible language.

    The article also suggests that using the name is full form, repeatedly, and using keywords in your title makes it receive a higher rank of google news.

    Yahoo news is filtered by people; google news is completely automated.

    From porn to religion... from the left to the right... many groups have figured out how to manipulate search results. It's life or death in the web world to optimize, It's google's responsibility if they are going to deliver news that they deliver both sides of a story.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:49PM (#10342072)
      This manipulation would never happen in the mainstream media.

      Regards,
      Dan Rather
    • by Nos. (179609) <andrew AT thekerrs DOT ca> on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:50PM (#10342079) Homepage
      However, the question becomes, is Google actually serving news? I honestly don't know. They are basically doing screen scraping (or RSS feeds) to display topics from other sites. Does this consitute serving news? Tough to say. Obviously the content is current events, however, Google doesn't write any of the content. Where does their responsibility lie?
    • by Jahf (21968) on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:54PM (#10342144) Journal
      Google isn't reporting or delivering news. It is indexing those sites that do.

      I don't see Google as the place to go when I want to find out what is happening today. I find it the place to go when I read a blurb on one news site and want to get more details or an alternate view from another site.

      It would be like using a stock exchange ticker to decide what company is making news ... the bigger the company or the more controversial the news, the bigger they change in their symbol. That doesn't mean it is relevant to me or that there is not more important news out there.

      • by Senjutsu (614542) on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:20PM (#10342498)
        Google isn't reporting or delivering news. It is indexing those sites that do.

        But if it wants to remain relevant, it needs to make sure it index those sites in such a way that a balanced presentation of respectable news sites are presented for a query. If the top stories continually run along the lines of "John Kerry is a Gay Commie Space Alien" just because some 2nd tier nutso conservative blog figured out how to best exploit the indexing algorithm, Google News will quickly become useless.
        • It's a tough call to say what's "balanced". A rather crude method is to say "50-50". But that doesn't take into account the "fringe" parties, independants, etc. Should all candidates be given equal airtime? Personally, I don't think that would be ideal - I really could care less about hearing about most of the other candidates.

          Suppose, then, we come up with some sort of hand-waving idea of balanced being relative to the vote that each candidate will receive. Ignoring for a minute the obvious time-con

        • by budgenator (254554) on Friday September 24, 2004 @05:21PM (#10344411) Journal
          Google just searches and indexes the web, it's news index has a few additional filters for lameness, so it's obvious to me if users are searching for terms, that the reputable newss providers aren't using they will come up short on the ranking; and are probably a little bit out-of-touch with their readers. Publishing on the web is different than publishing in print and the media is going to have to learn.

          All of us geeks have just learned how to search on google news to get a ballanced index, search for "kerry" + "john kerry" that's all
    • It's google's responsibility if they are going to deliver news that they deliver both sides of a story.

      Since when has any news organization been concerned with reporting "both sides of a story"? Every news source puts their own spin on things based on however they lean and/or what will sell more copies.

      If anything, Google's less likely to be biased than most places, since it just mechanically indexes things. If people are manipulating the results, then it might be in Google's interest to change the algor
      • It's a matter of time before Google start selling clearance.

        $10 a month - search basics

        $100 a month - search basics + more porn

        $1000 a month - search basics + real china news

        $5000 a month - search anything + gmail account

      • Every news source puts their own spin on things based on however they lean and/or what will sell more copies.

        ...

        I'm sure Google isn't trying to be biased, but if you think that delivering both sides of a story is part of some kind of Code of the Journalist (right along with "only report the whole truth"), you're dreaming.

        Granted, a lot do put some spin on it. But I'd say that there's some that at least attempt to maintain some level of objectivity. No one's going to be 100% successful, of course.

    • Did a search today on news.google.com. It can up with dailykos.com (a left leaning blog to say the least) as a source. Balanced news?

      What next, links to the KKK's newsletter and OsamaBinLadensBlog.com?
      • It's interesting that although the article claims that searching for "George Bush" presents a balanced view, if you actually run the search you'll find no less than six links to Kos in the first ten stories. I find it hard to believe that anyone can call that "conservative bias."
    • Actually, Google is a business. It's Google job to make money. How they may money or how much money they make depends on the product that they offer and how the public takes to its quality. If people like what they see, then the business can be profitable. If people do not like it, then other news sites will get Google's former business.

      One aspect of being profitable is to keep costs down. This includes labor costs. If a computer algorithm can perform a job adequately and for less money than a human
  • by datastalker (775227) on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:47PM (#10342033) Homepage
    I'm glad I didn't move along. ;)
  • by Eeknay (766740) on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:50PM (#10342088)
    And so the circle is complete. People will now start to attack and slander a once good service, because, hey, it's had its good run. I for one welcome our new evilmegaglobecorp, Google.
  • I mean look at US News and World Report which is probably the widest read news weekly. Look how straight-laced Kerry has had to go to even attempt to appeal to the Midwestern, Rust Belt, and Southern voters. The US, like it or not, is a very conservative country.
    • by geoffspear (692508) on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:01PM (#10342246) Homepage
      Only if "probably" means "definitely not".

      Time and Newsweek both have significantly higher weekly circulation. US News doesn't even seem to try to hide its bias; it seems like the very first thing in every issue is an editorial expressing views slightly to the right of Karl Rove.

      • US News doesn't even seem to try to hide its bias

        Which is one of the great things about it. (Not to say that it's a great magazine. I don't read it that often myself, so I wouldn't know.)

        Everybody has a bias. Everybody has political leanings. The idea of "objective journalism" is a very new one, only cooked up since the 1950's. The problem with "objective journalism" is that it's inherently impossible. Not just because all people have biases, but because the way "objective journalism" has been concocted
        • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Friday September 24, 2004 @04:32PM (#10343947) Homepage Journal
          The group International Answer does exist but their agenda does not seem to be to support Saddam Hussein, as the parent would suggest. They may not even be radical leftists.

          A thing may indeed be impossible to achieve, but that does not mean one should not attempt it anyway. I don't think we'd be well served to go back to the yellow journalism days. Thompson's Gonzo journalistic style--which is really just a first person narrative or even documentary--has a place but there are those of use who want a more complete perspective.

          This does not mean getting exact opposite pieces of information from both sides. It means getting both sides to comment on a topic.

          Aiming for a high standard but not reaching it is better in my mind than aiming for a low standard and hitting your mark.

    • True. (Score:3, Interesting)

      Thats quite likely, but look at the consequence of it. Kerry has to "act" to try to "relate" to a sizable portion of the country he wants to lead. It comes off as very fake. Although Bush and Kerry both came from very privledged backgrounds, somehow Bush can relate to people of other backgrounds. We've turned national politics into a cult of personality. Bush just has a more likeable personality, so he will get elected.
      • We've turned national politics into a cult of personality

        I believe it has been this way ever since big media became involved
        (probably since the Nixon vx JFK televised debate).
  • by cbelle13013 (812401) on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:51PM (#10342106)
    I'm mildly confused how something automated can have a "conservative leaning" when people aren't doing the crawling.

    No, its not going to crawl through a Ih8tebu5h's livejournal entry for 'news' or other blogger oriented 'news'.

    Wasn't there a slashdot article a while ago about Google having a seperate section for bloggers so they didn't skew news? Not that all bloggers are liberal, but most of the internet savvy folks I've met are.

    • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:08PM (#10342334) Homepage Journal
      Not that all bloggers are liberal
      Hardly. To its credit, blogging seem to attract self important sociopaths of every political hue.
    • by Zebbers (134389) on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:10PM (#10342355)
      Some human coded it somewhere down the line.
    • If I made a similar service to filter out stories on copyright, but restricted my searching to the websites of RIAA and all the big hollywood studios, so you believe there would be a bias present in my summary service?

      Simple fact is that if Google wanted to have this bias, they could do it very easily. Whether or not they do have this bias is up for question, but the story gives a good demonstration of how negative Google's results made Kerry look.
    • Note that this is coming from the Online Journalism Review. Sounds to me, rather, that the linked Article is a bit biased against a perceived competitor with that big pie-in-the-sky editor position. Of course Journalists will be against something that aggregates and treats their articles as chunks of impermanent data; nothing is more destructive to the ego than being shown you your true insignificance, especially in a cold, scientific way.
    • No, its not going to crawl through a Ih8tebu5h's livejournal entry for 'news' or other blogger oriented 'news'.

      Did you read the article? Several of the sites are blatantly pro-bush. What's the difference between a blog, and a blog pretending to be a news site so that they can get on Google news?

    • I'm mildly confused how something automated can have a "conservative leaning" when people aren't doing the crawling.

      It's possible because the leaning doesn't have to be intentional. (At least not on Google's part.) It could be an accidental result of how their code works, and/or it could be a result of the system being intentionally gamed by people trying to skew Google's results.

    • RTFA The text cites the algorithm's preference vs. the news source's preference for full-name vs. only surname.
    • You must have missed the memo/Journalism 101. It doesn't matter if most of the stories posted to media websites are negative about Kerry... it is Google's job to intercede in the algorithm and make sure that the results returned average to "neutral" so as to not be biased.

      Of course, the alternative is for media sites to just start writing lauding pieces on Kerry...

    • by LMCBoy (185365) * on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:34PM (#10342668) Homepage Journal
      No, its not going to crawl through a Ih8tebu5h's livejournal entry for 'news' or other blogger oriented 'news'.

      No, the article shows that Google News *does* use popular blogs in its results; in fact that's the whole point of the story: that searching for "John Kerry" on Google News presents you with an inordinate number of anti-Kerry rants on conservative blogs, rather than the "mainstream" news results that you get when searching for "George Bush".

      The article doesn't try to infer some kind of conspiracy from this; rather, it's probably due to the fact that bloggers typically repeat the full name throughout their articles ("John Kerry is unfit for command! John Kerry is flippity-floppity, and John Kerry speaks French!"), whereas actual news articles tend to revert to "Mr. Kerry" or simply "Kerry". It is mildly interesting that GN indexes these political blogs, though.
    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:41PM (#10342760)
      The basic problem forming in the media right now is that there's two distinct flavors:

      News reports try to be fair... but the people who do such reporting tend to altruistic people who have a hard-to-hide bias towards the left, always wanting to file a feel-bad-for-this-person report that paints the little guy as a victim and the big company as the bad guy.

      Then there's news analysis... that usually lands on the right because the best bigmouths tend to be right-wingers. Even if you disagree with every word they say, they're still more fun to listen two than a left-winger. Fox News Channel frequently has one-from-the-left, one-from-the-right debates on their air, and the right-winger usually is able to talk in soundbytes and talk over the opponent to the point that they appear to "win" the debate more often.

      Here's what throws Google for the loop... There's only one AP, and there's only one Reuters. Stories that come out of those two agencies appear in hundreds of web pages, yet there are hundreds of right-wing opinon writers who all express similar ideas in completely different words. Therefore, the right-wing opinion pages sometimes can drown out the left-wing reporting by simply having more entries in the list.
  • So.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cr0y (670718) on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:51PM (#10342110) Homepage
    Not trying to troll here, I don't understand why people are trying to call shinanigans on Google, if they have a bias then that is their right to. If you do not like the services they are providing then don't use it. It's not like they are slandering anyone or posting false headlines.
    • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by stratjakt (596332) on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:53PM (#10342133) Journal
      It's a percieved conservative bias, not a liberal one. That's the "problem".

      Bias is okee-fine, so long as your bias and my bias are the same.
      • It's a percieved conservative bias, not a liberal one. That's the "problem".

        Running across this article today after reading this item [littlegreenfootballs.com] yesterday on Google News' inclusion of the Daily Kos hatesite as a "news" source is amusing. The last article on the page (at this time) gives this explanation from Google:

        While our news sources vary in perspective and editorial approach, their selection for inclusion is done without regard to political viewpoint or ideology. An article's placement on our main page is

      • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:25PM (#10342553) Homepage Journal
        Exactly. How many people are complaining that Slashdot slants to the left? I'm a card-carrying Republican and once in a while it annoys me, but I'm smart enough to ignore the bias and just look at the facts. Same goes if I watch Fox News. I would assume most other Slashdot readers are the same.

        Our local newspaper (the Milwaukee Journal) is awful when it comes to being liberally slanted, and while the conservatively slanted public radio shows often try pointing out the bias, it's just ignored by the newspaper and the public. There is NO unbiased news. That's just something we have to live with.
        • Re:So.... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gad_zuki! (70830)
          > I'm a card-carrying Republican and once in a while it annoys me

          I'm curious as to how "liberal" slashdot is. I have never seen a link to The Nation or Common Dreams, but have seen links to WSJ, Fox, etc. I never see articles about socializing healthcare, the legal system, etc. If anything slashdot reflects the opinions of educated city dwellers/tech workers/gen x/y'ers.

          To some people the lack of "The Bible is the inerrant word of the one true God" and "We must privatize everything!" equals a liberal
    • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by revscat (35618) on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:55PM (#10342171) Journal

      Not trying to troll here, I don't understand why people are trying to call shinanigans on Google, if they have a bias then that is their right to.

      Sure, but if they paint themselves as being equananimous in their presentation then they should be held up to that standard, and criticized when they don't meet up to it. If they want to be biased one way or another then so be it, but they should be upfront about it. It's like Fox; it's not so much the fact that they are conservative I disagree with, it is that they are dishonest in saying they are fair. I actually subscribe to a couple of conservative magazines because of their quality, but they do not deny or try to hide their slant.

      To put it another way: Lying is wrong.

      • Re:So.... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by maxpublic (450413)
        That would depend on what you define as 'fair' or 'biased'. Seems to me that most folks define 'fair' as "whatever I happen to agree with", and 'biased' as "whatever I happen to disagree with"; and that includes the so-called liberals as much as the so-called conservatives.

        As a small-l libertarian I don't see much in the way of unbiased news regardless of the source. The very assumptions that most stories are based on are biased in and of themselves, even if the piece is written in the most unbiased mann
      • by JWW (79176)
        Its not a bias on the part of google its just a quirk built of their algroithms and the structure of the content being searched.

        To put it another way its a "Systemic Anomoly".

        Sorry, that just popped into my head and I couldn't resist, but really thats what this seems to be.
      • Re:So.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Zapman (2662) on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:19PM (#10342486)
        If you actually RTFA, you'll see the real reason burried a little more than half way down:

        "I think what you're seeing is an odd little linguistic artifact," said Zuckerman, former vice president of Tripod.com and now a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society who studies search engines. The chief culprit, he theorized, is that mainstream news publications refer to the senator on second reference as Kerry, while alternative news sites often use the phrase "John Kerry" multiple times, for effect or derision. To Google News' eye, that's a more exact search result.

        Basically, google is doing exactly what we told it too: looking for the most links with 'john kerry' in it.

        "Computers are out to destroy us. This can be proven by the fact that they do exactly what we tell them."
      • Sure, but if they paint themselves as being equananimous in their presentation then they should be held up to that standard, and criticized when they don't meet up to it....it's not so much the fact that they are conservative I disagree with, it is that they are dishonest in saying they are fair.

        Let's ignore for a second that this story is about Google: Isn't part of the problem that people with slanted opinions also think those opinions are "right"? ("right" as in "correct", not "right vs. left") I mean,

        • I mean, everyone thinks their opinion and their judgement is dead-on right.

          No, I'm sorry that is the definition of an idiot.
        • So I guess I'm presuming that Google, having everything automated, isn't trying for any particular political slant. If they're showing up with any unfortunate informational slant (including that when you search for almost anything, you'll get a couple porn sites in there), I'm presuming it's because of imperfect search technology.

          I think the problem is that I phrased my original message poorly. I actually don't think Google has done anything wrong here, and agree with the entirety of your reply. What I wa

      • Re:So.... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by TheFlyingGoat (161967)
        So do you watch CNN? How about CBS? NBC? Read The New York Times? Slashdot? Every news outlet is slanted one way or another, it's just a matter of how subtly they do it.

        As I said in another post, The Milwaukee Journal often uses AP stories which seem to be very well balanced, but then will exclude certain paragraphs they deem unnecessary, or filler, and the articles end up having a liberal slant.

        Also, if you get on Fox's case, you need to get on CBS's as well, since they both claim to provide balance
        • The media bias is annoying, which is why I read liberal papers (Milwaukee Journal, NY Times, cnn.com) and watch liberal news shows (NBC, ABC, CBS) but listen to conservative radio.

          To be blunt: that is a load of shit. A recent example illustrates this perfectly. Remember Sandy Berger? He was accused of stealing documents from the 9/11 Committee. The NYT and Washington Post both ran lengthy articles about this on their front pages. It led all three evening newsbroadcasts for two straight days. But after Ber [google.com]

  • This just in... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:52PM (#10342120)
    i) world saturated with unreadable political blogs, many right wing.
    ii) man who is actually President gets more genuine international news coverage (speeches, commentary, policy, state visits and campaigning) than man who isn't (basically just campaigning).

    Thus aforementioned blogs tend to show up prominently in News digests about non-President, because there isn't much to say about him.

    / ~Rocket Science
  • google? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Mavness (794186)
    google has news?
  • by mopslik (688435) on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:54PM (#10342142)

    "I think what you're seeing is an odd little linguistic artifact," said Zuckerman, former vice president of Tripod.com and now a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society who studies search engines. The chief culprit, he theorized, is that mainstream news publications refer to the senator on second reference as Kerry, while alternative news sites often use the phrase "John Kerry" multiple times, for effect or derision. To Google News' eye, that's a more exact search result.

    Seems reasonable enough to me. Most of the major news I catch does indeed refer to Kerry without his first name. Likewise for Bush.

    Hardly an intentional bias.

    • Likewise for Bush.
      Actually, I'd imagine they use the phrase "The President" or "President Bush" more than just "Bush".

      • I've seen Mr. Bush more often than any you mentioned above.
      • Actually, I'd imagine they use the phrase "The President" or "President Bush" more than just "Bush".

        See, that's why there's a conservative bias. Liberal media labels Bush as the "antichrist", "devil", "shrub", "@sshole"... any number of derogatory terms; and each time some term is used is one less time the name is mentioned, and thus you get a very low ranking.

        I've seen anti-bush articles where his name is not even mentioned because anyone reading the article *knows* who it's talking about... I'd guess
    • by slungsolow (722380) on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:10PM (#10342360) Homepage
      The majority if news organizations follow standards similar to the AP Style Guidelines [utexas.edu]. When dealing with proper names you usually would do the following:
      On first reference, use a person's full name, including the middle initial, and title if important to the story. On second reference, use only the last name with no title. In the following example, for instance, we assume that on first reference the person was called Dr. Donald Drumm. The following are possible second-reference uses: The doctor agreed. Drumm agreed.
    • Okay, you make a good point, but if you think about it, why doesn't "George Bush" bring up the same kind of results? The uses of "President", "George" and "Bush" are used just as much as "Senator," "John," and "Kerry."

      The next paragraph partially answers this:

      With an occasional exception, Weblogs are generally not found among the Google News results, so Zuckerman had some advice for aspiring political publishers who want to game the search engines: Don't blog -- start an alternative news network. Use te
    • I think the article's theory is correct -- searching for George-W-Bush or George-Bush rather than Bush (as the article did for John-Kerry as opposed to Kerry) turns up mainly anti-Bush stories. This goes a good way towards confirming the suggestion that it's a usage difference between establishment and alternative news sources.

  • Crosshairs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by moankey (142715) on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:54PM (#10342149)
    So now they are IPO'd it seems they are under a different microscope.

    Pre-IPO couple of college kids that worked hard and are smart and made the world better.

    Post-IPO, this company is the new MS, look at all the sinister, conspiring things they do, always knew they were no good.

    Whats next Google supports terrorism? I guess whatever sells papers or click throughs.
  • Thank God (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'm glad we don't have to worry about censorship here on /.
  • by chia_monkey (593501) on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:05PM (#10342283) Journal
    Sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but there is no unbiased news anymore. The media...print, radio, online...is mostly controlled by a few of the major conglomerates. Not only that, but they all have their slants on what is reported and how it is reported. Here's an interested quote from WSJ Opinion Journal [opinionjournal.com]

    "The chairman of the entertainment giant Viacom said the reason was simple: Republican values are what U.S. companies need."

    It's nice to know the media is deciding what to let through and what to report "in our best interest".

    • I would further argue that there never have been unbiased news sources - just fewer sources from which to to choose, logically leading to more discrete stratification of opinion in years gone by.
  • by humuhumunukunukuapu' (678704) on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:05PM (#10342287)
    This is just a reflection of how polarized our society has become; it was accelerated post 1994, and 9/11 -> Iraq has sent it around the moon and back again.

    The article really just re-enforces my thought that it doesn't really matter what news source you read at any point in time, as long as you are reading many different sources on every side of an issue [to the extent possible]. Then you can settle on the truth being somewhere in the middle.

    but this is just bullsh!t no matter which side you are on:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/09/24/politics /main645393.shtml [cbsnews.com]
  • Beta? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dema (103780) on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:05PM (#10342289) Homepage
    In defensive of Goolgle, Google is still considered beta, even if it has been so for a quite a while.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:09PM (#10342341)
    EVERY time I select Toby Keith it plays the Dixie Chicks.
  • Optimizing is Evil. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Viceice (462967) on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:11PM (#10342370)
    I was in a meeting with clients the other day. The company was looking to create publicity for their new product and I was there to look into an ad project.

    Anyway, in the briefing for the product, I found out that the name they had given to the product was very generic, stright out of the english dictionary (for sake of the story, lets call the product "Apple").

    So I asked the marketing guy and one of the directors who was there why they had chosen "Apple" when if soembody were to google Apple, they would get 1001 links about the computer company, then about the fruit, before people would get to their company.

    The answer? They said they paid a company who promised that for their fee, they could get the company's page on their product called "Apple" within the top 4 search results on EVERY search engine. (Fat chance)

    My point is, optimizing is an evil business every step of the way. If you ask me, it's downright fraud.

  • by switcha (551514) on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:12PM (#10342385)
    I just did a search for each, and Kerry's was pretty much down the line (pos/neg), while "George Bush" yielded four hits out of ten in the first list just from dailyKos.com, a, by any standards, rampant Bush-bashing blog. Actually, I briefly scanned the articles and only 2 were neutral/positive for Bush.

    Apparently, it falls the other way as well, but the very fact that a blog on either extreme of the spectrum is showing up that much is a little disconcerting.

    Punditry of all stripes is great and I read a ton of them from both camps regularly, but I come to Google News for news, not the OpEd page.

  • by Otter (3800) on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:12PM (#10342388) Journal
    This isn't about optimizing, it isn't about bias at Google, it isn't explained by ritually invoking the evil spectre of Fox News...

    The "second tier" conservative sites write positive things about George Bush and negative things about John Kerry. The analogous liberal/left sites (who don't seem to rate sneering comments about their importance) write negative things about George Bush but have zero positive enthusiasm for Kerry. Therefore, "George Bush" gets both pro and con results; "John Kerry" only gets con. No conspiracy required, just an uninspiring candidate.

    You can see the same thing, by the way, on bumpers. Here in John Kerry's home state, there are a zillion anti-Bush bumper stickers and about as many pro-Bush stickers as pro-Kerry stickers. Are cars optimizing their bumpers for my eyes?

    • It must just be where you live. The majority of houses on my street and a lot of the nearby streets have John Kerry signs in the window or on they lawn. (Mine included.) But where I live is on the North Campus/Clintonville border in Columbus, OH which is a pretty liberal part of the city. If you go down to the parts of OSU campus where the frat boys and wannabe frat boys live there are probably 2 Bush signs or more for every Kerry sign.
      Kerry doesn't have the best delivery on his speeches (read: is totally
  • by ctwxman (589366) <me@@@geofffox...com> on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:18PM (#10342480) Homepage
    One of the biggest shortcomings of the Google News method is not taking into account the source's expertise, implied or otherwise. For instance, domestic US stories are often headlined using Xinhua or The Scotsman as the lead source. It would seem that you will get more detail and understanding from a source closer to the story, or specializing in the story's subject. A Connecticut newspaper or TV station is going to give me more detail and perspective on a story taking place here than someone far away. This weekend, this headline was featured on Google News (I wrote about this in my blog, so I have it at hand): The Sopranos buries the competition. That's a valid story in entertainment news, but the source was, "The Scotsman - Scotland's National Newspaper Online." The next listing was for the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) followed by ABC News and Planet Out. Truth is, as interesting a tool as Google News is, we still need editors and reporters to weigh facts and sources and see inherent weakness or bias in what is often passed off as complete and balanced facts.
  • I'm pretty sensitive to bias in the media considering that I am a journalist interested in the subject and I have to say that I've detected no overt (or subtle for that matter) bias in the stories that Google News presents. I see stories from both conservative and liberal newspapers when I do searches on news stories. If there's conservative bias, it must be very subtle.

    Statement of bias: I am a conservative so perhaps by judgment is being colored. Also, Google News has run a number of stories from my onli
  • right under the title "Google News", it says "beta"! kinda greyed-out, though.....
  • Sounds fishy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Asprin (545477) <(gsarnold) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:22PM (#10342524) Homepage Journal

    What are the odds that the political landscape Google is surveying actually is more conservative than OJR thinks? If they detected a difference between the sites which use human editors and the Google aggregators which do not, what are they really measuring here - the biases of the Google algorithms or the biases of the other human editors? Correct me if I'm wrong, but Google only knows what it finds.

    Just a hunch, but I bet these guys are still trying to figger out why Fox News is so dang-ole popular.
  • umm.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by helix400 (558178) on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:27PM (#10342577) Journal
    Conservative bias in Google news? It's just an aggregate..it picks up news from all sides of the spectrum. Because of that, it also displays left leaning sites like Salon, and extreme left-leaning blogs such as dailykos.com.

    But then, I suspect the reason this article was approved is because it appeals to michael's left leaning bias, which he unapologetically admits he has [slashdot.org]. As he said: "I'm trying to dispel all notion that I'm unbiased, or that I'll be presenting everything in an entirely unbiased fashion. If my biases totally offend you, you might want to go right now to your user preferences and check the box to block stories posted by me."
  • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:29PM (#10342607)
    If you go to google.ca, click news, there is a Canada News section in English...

    But if on the google.ca page you click on Google.ca offered in: Français, then on Actualités (News), you're forwarded to the google.fr (France) news page.

    France != French Canada
  • Conservative bias? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@gmailCURIE.com minus physicist> on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:48PM (#10342850) Homepage
    Really? That's news to me...it really is. Especially with the Daily Kos right on their news page for all to see. Now if they had Free Republic on their page listed as a source, I'd agree.

    I believe the study is slanted.

  • Potential is key (Score:4, Insightful)

    by follower_of_christ (626504) <phatcoder@yahoo.com> on Friday September 24, 2004 @02:51PM (#10342899)
    Today, the Online Journalism Review details a potential conservative bias in the site's algorithm

    Conservatives probably see articles like the following and start sniffing around for conspiracy. Whether a conspiracy exists or not. I'm starting to see a common thread amongst conservatives of boycotting orginizations that even hint liberal ideals. As a conservative myself I see a large movement away from the major media by most of my conservative friends around the nation and world due to "media bias" and its presentation of liberal ideals. (I'm probably redudant here.)
    The advent of the internet, blogs, and talk radio allow this to happen. It saddens me because I feel that there hasn't been substantive debate in over a decade because both "new" and "old" media has bias and both camps are clinging on to the media that shares their views and shuns out the opposition.

    I'm longing to have a healthy debate about issues rather than a shouting match where both people leave mad feeling more "right" than when they began.

    Article [worldnetdaily.com]
    Article [worldnetdaily.com]

  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:12PM (#10343124) Homepage
    go to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], where neutrality isn't just a Nice Thing, it's the #1 policy [wikipedia.org]. There's a Current Events spot on the front page.

    Oh? What's that? It's not as comprehensive? Well, it's a wiki, not a search engine! Seems you just can't have it both ways...

    Note that there is talk of a WikiNews run by the MediaWiki foundation, but at present it is mostly idle speculation, and no real plans to make such a site.

  • Conservative Bias? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nwbvt (768631) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:21PM (#10343214)
    Lets, the first 25 of todays results for news searches on George W Bush and John Kerry:

    Bush: 17 negative headlines
    Kerry: 6 negative headlines
    (For the record, I am not reading each and every article, just counting it if the headline appears to be negative. Also, I am also counting headlines that bash both candidates as negative).

    Sorry folks, I don't see the 'conservative bias'. Granted one would probably expect a few more negative results with regard to the current president regardless of which party is in office, today Bush had nearly three times as many.

    No, I'm not arguing that Google news always has a liberal bias (it uses algorithms, not editors, to decide what to post), just that finding a few conservative-leaning headlines after a few experiments (they only loosely document two, though they claim there were others) is not evidence of a conservative bias.

  • by Flexagon (740643) on Friday September 24, 2004 @04:28PM (#10343910)

    Turns out that on Google News, backlinks do *not* improve search positioning.

    Seems quite reasonable. After all, being news, how is it going to have many backlinks? And how are they all going to be found while the news is still new? By the time the news is old enough to appear in Google's regular results, backlinks become useful. Am I missing something?

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