Google changes news story ranking, Google News to favor 'journalism awards' and original reporting

Google's news results are about to change.

Today, Google VP of News Richard Gingras published a post titled "Elevating original reporting in Search." You're going to want to read the whole thing.

One of the weird metrics they're reportedly going to use, though? "HOW MANY JOURNALISM AWARDS A PUBLICATION HAS WON."


Here's an excerpt from what Google News VP Gingras wrote for Google's 'The Keyword' corporate blog:

We use algorithms to sort through everything we find on the web and organize this content in a way that is helpful. Those algorithms are composed of hundreds of different signals that are constantly updated and improved. To tune and validate our algorithms and help our systems understand the authoritativeness of individual pages, we have more than 10,000 raters around the world evaluating our work – their feedback doesn't change the ranking of the specific results they're reviewing; instead it is used to evaluate and improve algorithms in a way that applies to all results. The principles that guide how they operate are mapped out in our search rater guidelines, a public document that allows raters to better understand and assess the unique characteristics of content that appears in Search results.

In short: these guidelines are the clear description of what we value in content when ranking. And we've just introduced a change to help us gather new feedback so that our automated ranking systems can better surface original content.

To illustrate the update, in section 5.1 of the guidelines, we instruct raters to use the highest rating, "very high quality," for original news reporting "that provides information that would not otherwise have been known had the article not revealed it. Original, in-depth, and investigative reporting requires a high degree of skill, time, and effort."

In addition to recognizing individual instances of original reporting at the page level, we also ask raters to consider the publisher's overall reputation for original reporting. That update in section 2.6.1 reads: "Many other kinds of websites have reputations as well. For example, you might find that a newspaper (with an associated website) has won journalistic awards. Prestigious awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize award, or a history of high quality original reporting are strong evidence of positive reputation."

Is that so?

Emphasis mine.

here's an early NYT piece with analysis, and one might bear in mind the New York Times' perspective of what the change might mean for them:

In a phone interview on Thursday, Mr. Gingras acknowledged that the shift was in Google's own interest. "We do everything here with Google Search and Google News to continue to earn and retain the trust of our users," he said.

Here's what some are saying and writing about the news today, elsewhere.

[PHOTO: Reuters, archive]