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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