Accuracy in Media

Mainstream media sources are pushing Google to promote their content at the top of Google search results, a push they believe would give their original content the ‘rightful’ place it deserves in search engine results: at the top.

Nat Ives writes for Advertising Age on March 23:

“Major media companies are increasingly lobbying Google to elevate their expensive professional content within the search engine’s undifferentiated slush of results…..

….‘You should not have a system,’ one content executive said, ‘where those who are essentially parasites off the true producers of content benefit disproportionately.’…”

Martin Nisenholtz of the New York Times explained why he thinks the search engine isn’t biased enough toward original news.

“He’d just run a search for Gaza, which had been at war with Israel since Dec. 27. Google returned links to outdated BBC stories, Wikipedia entries and even an anti-Semitic YouTube video well before coverage by the Times, which had an experienced reporter covering the war from inside Gaza itself.

Search results for ‘Gaza’ on March 20 began with two Wikipedia links, a March 19 BBC report, two video clips of unclear origin, the CIA World Factbook, a Guardian report and, most strikingly, a link to Gaza-related messages on Twitter.”

Note that Nisenholtz is quibbling about the results of a regular search engine, which isn’t necessarily intended as a news feed, but rather a survey of the different, multimedia forms of information on the internet.

That means the media is trying to outcompete not just the contents of blogs, but also government websites, non-profits, published research, and educational institutions who have to be ranked by Google as well.

I have a suggestion for the news companies: use Google News search.

At the time of this writing, a search for Gaza using news.google.com brings up a CNN titled “Israeli military to probe Gaza campaign allegations” which Goggle says is “12 hours” old.

It also provides links to AFP, Reuters, BBC, Aljazeera.net, and CNN International and links to a list of 2,955 related articles.

If people are looking for news content, they can easily search using those parameters on Google. By pushing mainstream media dominance in Google search when they already have a dedicated feed of their own, news companies are suggesting that reporters offer more salient facts and more interesting opinions/analyses than any other source on the world wide web.

Maybe it’s just that fewer people want to read a traditional news article. K. Daniel Glover offers more thoughts on this.

Watch for possible changes on April 30. Ives writes that “Publishers are nonetheless looking forward to the next closed-door meeting of Google’s Publishers Advisory Council on April 30, when many hope to get some solid response from Google.”




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