Google News & Comments

The image “http://www.google.com/images/news.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.The biggest story of the day is about Google News allowing newsmakers (people/organizations) to comment on stories written about them. According to the Google News Blog:

We’ll be trying out a mechanism for publishing comments from a special subset of readers: those people or organizations who were actual participants in the story in question. 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.

Here’s a roundup of the comments and perspectives:

Whether this becomes a snafu for Google, as some have suggested, or “changes online news as we know it” remains to be seen. Lots of other news sites have had comments for some time; the difference here is that comments can only come from participants in the story. (One question: who is a participant? Is, for example, Elizabeth Edwards permitted to comment on any story involving her husband, presidential candidate John Edwards? And imagine all the bland PR speak coming out of organizations that feel compelled to “comment.”)

There’s also the issue that some have raised (which is analogous to the new “write a review” feature in Maps) that Google is now going to retain more traffic and be a substantive news destination, rather than simply referring that traffic to third parties (i.e., newspaper sites).

But another fascinating thing is that this is Google’s version of news gathering and content creation: create a container for a distributed community of interested parties to have at it in a structured environment.

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