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Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Google enters news arena
Google headquarters
Google expanding its services into news
The hugely popular search engine Google has launched a service that uses its search algorithms rather than human editors to select news reports.

The service can be reached through the Google homepage, offering reports from 4,000 different websites around the world, including from BBC News Online.

The reports are arranged under categories such as world, business, entertainment, technology and sports.

But some experts have questioned the value of the service, arguing it fails to rank news reports on the basis of quality.

Search technology

Various other sites, like Newsnow and Moreover, offer a similar service as a news aggregator. But none enjoys the number of visitors that Google does.

"News is a natural extension of our mission," said Marissa Mayer, product manager at Google.

The California-based company is not employing any journalists to work on the service.

Instead it is using the same basic technology it uses to rank search results in order of relevance to sort out the abundance of news on the web.

Stories are ranked on how recently they have been published, the number of articles devoted to a given topic and the popularity of the particular news source.

Valuable?

The lack of any human editors means the site can occasionally offer some unusual or contradictory groupings of story.


Speed, quantity and aggregation are no substitution for genuine understanding

Nic Newman, BBC News Online
Some senior journalists have been less than impressed with Google's news service.

"An automated news site put together with search technology in no way replaces the added value provided by sites like the BBC. It never will do," said Nic Newman, head of editorial development and technology at BBC News Online.

"Aggregators do a good job in pulling together a wide range of stories in any particular area," he added.

"But they don't provide a coherent picture of what is important and in particular don't make any distinction between a piece of quality journalism and a piece of wire copy."

"Users have shown again and again that they value trusted brands on the web whether it is the BBC, CNN or the Washington Post.

"Speed, quantity and aggregation are no substitution for genuine understanding," he said.

It plans to gauge the response to the site before it considers possible ways to make money from it.

See also:

08 Apr 02 | Business
10 May 02 | Business
12 Sep 02 | Technology
28 Mar 02 | Science/Nature
13 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
Internet links:


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