PRoogling For Dollars

Speaking of the Spin Problem (below), If Google labels a press release as news, will there be any difference between spin and news? Here’s a little design exercise that shows what a long lever arm Google has become. We start with how bad its current policy is, and imagine how it might help make journalism honest again.

Dan Gillmor, Dave Winer,  The Register and many others have objected to Google’s treatment of press releases as the same as news. Google’s well-received Beta News service lists a press release as a peer to a news articles if both are returned by the same search argument. This is A Bad Thing, especially since it’s so hard to tell the difference anyway. But could Google turn the tables and increase its stature with a simple algorithm?

What we know:

  • Google knows which sources churn out press releases, and could easily identify any press release by the standard format taught in Press Release 101.
  • Google can compare text better than anyone else.
  • If it chose to, Google could categorize and track all press releases.
  • If it chose to, Google could append a styled “PR” next to every press release found in a search.
  • Google could also identify what portion of a “news story”, published by a so-called news source, is derived from a known press release.
  • If it chose to, Google could append a statistical measure to every news source with PR content,
    (like, “95% PR“, or “75% PR” or “33% PR“)

Presto! Google becomes part of the solution and exposes how little of “news” is newsworthy.

12:46:38 AM    

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