Sep 12, 2019

New Google rules aim to boost original reporting in search results

Photo by Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Google said Thursday that it has recently adjusted its algorithms and the guidelines used by the people that rate its search results to elevate original reporting.

Why it matters: The moves aim to provide an incentive for news organizations to focus on fresh reporting as opposed to quick aggregation of other news reports.

Details: Google has rolled out 2 updates over the past few months.

  1. The company has adjusted its algorithms to ensure that original reporting stays near the top of search results longer.
  2. It has updated the guidelines that people use to evaluate search ratings to help them identify what original reporting looks like.
"In one section, the guidelines encourage raters to use the highest rating for reporting that provides information that would otherwise not be known if the article didn't report it out. We also ask them to look into whether a news organization has a history of high-quality original reporting. We ask raters to go behind the article, where it's coming from, who wrote it, etc."
— Richard Gingras, Google's Vice President of News

The big picture: News aggregation has become a big part of the online news business, thanks in part to the way publishers were rewarded by search and social media algorithms to deliver buzzy content, quickly.

Be smart: There's been an increase in pressure on Google and other tech companies to elevate quality news and information ahead of the 2020 election.

  • Facebook, for example, says it is investing millions of dollars to pay publishers to provide content for a new "news tab."

Yes, but: These changes by Google have long been sought by news publishers, and the platform has been working on the issue for a long time. But according to Gingras, the company's technology has improved so much over the past decade that the adjustments are easier to make now.

The bottom line: In an era when fabricated news has become a universal and bipartisan concern, lawmakers, interest groups and market forces are pushing to give content companies leverage over the technology companies that distribute the content they create.

Go deeper: Power pendulum swings back to news companies

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

More than 62,300 U.S. health care workers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and at least 291 have died from the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday. COVID-19 had infected about 9,300 health professionals when the CDC gave its last update on April 17.

By the numbers: More than 98,900 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 384,900 Americans have recovered and more than 14.9 million tests have been conducted.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:00 p.m. ET: 5,589,626 — Total deaths: 350,453 — Total recoveries — 2,286,956Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:00 p.m. ET: 1,680,913 — Total deaths: 98,913 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Business: How the new workplace could leave parents behind.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  7. Public health: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," CDC says, but more data is neededCDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the virus.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

There are no COVID-19 patients in hospital in New Zealand, which reported just 21 active cases after days of zero new infections. A top NZ health official said Tuesday he's "confident we have broken the chain of domestic transmission."

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Tuesday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.9 million tests).