Google Algorithm Change Will Promote Original Reporting
Media outlets have increasingly criticised the world’s largest search engine mainly because of its algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that computers follow. Newspapers have often blamed these instructions for plumenting online traffic and the industry’s decline.
Google’s vice president of news Richard Gingras explained some of the changes in a blog post.
Gingras said Google will promote stories that are critically important and labour-intensive. For instance, the search engine will promote stories that require experienced investigative skills.
He also wrote that articles that demonstrate “original, in-depth and investigative reporting,” will receive the highest possible rating by reviewers.
These reviewers are roughly 10,000 people whose feedback contributes to Google’s algorithm. They will also determine the publisher’s overall reputation for original reporting, promoting outlets that have been awarded Pulitzer Prizes, for example.
It remains to be seen how such changes will affect news outlets, especially smaller online sites and local newspapers, who have borne the brunt of the changing media landscape.
And as noted by the technology website TechCrunch, it is hard to define exactly what original reporting is. Many online outlets build on “scoops” or exclusives with their own original information. This is a complexity an algorithm may have a hard time picking through.
The Verge, another technology publication, wrote that the emphasis on originality could exacerbate an already frenetic online news cycle by making it lucrative to get breaking news online even faster and without proper verification.
The change comes as Google continues to face criticism for its impact on the news media.
The tech giant’s algorithm remains a source of mysterious frustration for anyone outside the company. Many publishers say Google’s algorithms reward clickbait and also allow investigative reporting and original stories to disappear online.