As someone who uses Google News on a daily basis to search specific key words in the news, I’ve watched with dismay as more and more blog posts turn up in the search results. Though Google doesn’t automatically index every blog that turns up in the news index, I’ve read from several sources that it’s not all that hard to get included: all you have to do is ask, and very often they will include you.
Obviously, there are plenty of incentives to get included in Google News, by doing so you open yourself up to more hits from search results. And no doubt many bloggers will label this as a victory for bloggers seeking to get noticed as “real” journalists.
But since I rely on Google News on a daily basis to help me find topics to blog about, I’m not as happy as some about Google’s decision to include blogs in their search results. Here’s why:
If I wanted to know what blogs are saying about a topic, I’d do a blog search
There are already several search engines that allow me to comb through blogs for specific topics. Google has its own blog search, and there’s Technorati, which even manages to rank blogs into terms of authority. By having them also indexed in Google News, it’s just creating a redundancy, just as if videos would show up in Google Audio searches simply because the video has “audio” contained in them. By separating blog searches from news searches, we’re able to hone in on what we want more quickly.
Blogs and news articles are still mostly two different kinds of media
This is the one that I’m sure will get a few people annoyed. Malcolm Gladwell has an excellent blog post called “The Derivative Myth” that talks about this very subject. For the most part, blogs are still mainly commentators on what the Mainstream Media is reporting. Are there examples of investigative reporting from bloggers? Yes, of course. But to date, I subscribe to and read over 200 blogs a week, most of which are some of the most powerful on the internet, and the vast majority of them don’t contact sources for interviews or do any research other than google searches. There may come a time when bloggers do begin to conduct extensive research, but until then I still view them as mainly filters for which news articles get the most attention.
Too much white noise.
Recent calculations say that there are anywhere from 30 million to 50 million blogs out there. If enough bloggers contact Google News to be included in their search results, they will easily outnumber non-blog news services by many millions. It will get to the point where Google News searches will be no different from Google Blog searches, and it will be next-to-impossible just to find articles on any subject that aren’t reported by blogs. This has already become a problem for me, since some search words I type into Google news already give me a page full of blog posts, making me comb through page after page looking for articles that don’t come from blogs.
Perhaps, if need be, there could be a compromise. Let Google News put in a function where if a user wants, he or she can filter out all blog posts in their searches. This way, the bloggers can have their victory in being included in Google News, and people like me can sort through that day’s news more efficiently.