Friday, October 27, 2006

Inside google news

Yesterday, I attended an interesting talk by Krishna Bharat, Principal Scientist at Google. To give you a bit of a background, Krishna Bharat was the brain behind google news. Google News was awarded the 2003 Webby award in the news category. Also, Bharat recieved the 2003 World Technology Award for Media and Journalism.

In his speech, Bharat explained the news aggregation process followed by Google news. He explained that they give weightage to factors such as significance of the news to a particular geography, quality of the article and reputation of the publication.

Another remarkable thing is that they try to provide all the different viewpoints for any story. For example, if there is some news about Israel, Google news will try and provide news from a US source, from an Israeli source, from a Turkish source and from an Arab source in order to ensure a balanced view. I had never noticed this before, but when I tried testing this on Google news, it turned out to be true!

Also, I asked him about the process involved in determining whether or not a particular website is a reliable news website. Bharat explained that they have a team that determines which websites to include in the google news search based on factors such as number of journalists, presence of editors, reputation etc. A few websites are included due to recommendations from readers. For example, even though Online Journalism Review (OJR) is actually a blog it still shows up on Google news because of its reputation. It is heartening to note that there are people involved in this process and it is not all automated and machine generated as many of us believe (Atleast I believed that).

Overall, a great talk.


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