Google Puts A Wrinkle On News Aggregation

Names in the News Get a Way to Respond

A growing number of large Web companies like Yahoo, Google and AOL and a menagerie of start-ups like Digg and Topix.net offer a comprehensive menu of news headlines that link to articles elsewhere online. These sites are called news aggregators, and though some have large audiences, the companies that run them have yet to figure out how to turn them into enduring businesses with unique identities.

Nevertheless, the search giant Google, whose Google News is among the largest news aggregators, announced a business based on those who chatter about the news. It is asking the people or companies mentioned in news articles to comment on those reports.

[…] Josh Cohen, the business product manager for Google News, said the feature is consistent with the company’s mission to bring as many news sources online as possible. He said the company would not edit any comments from sources.

Google characterized this as an experiment. Media professionals characterized it less charitably as an effort by engineers who do not understand the impracticalities of such a project on a large scale — for instance, how do you verify a source’s identity or screen for inaccurate statements? — and the potential sensory-deadening impact of long-winded statements.