To help publishers reap the rewards for their original investigative reporting, Google announced it is changing the way investigative journalism content is recognised and ranked.
The aim is to provide people with a deeper understanding of the conversations going on around them, the company stated in a press release.
This is welcome, but I wonder if it could backfire. It naturally favors the biggest outlets with investigative and large news teams. Might it worsen the economic imbalance between national and local/community/specialist media? https://t.co/qgHO03y8TD— Gideon Lichfield #ONA19 (@glichfield) September 12, 2019
"Original reporting is at the core of journalism and we hope these changes will provide better visibility for this type of content and provide value for users in helping them keep informed about the world around them," said Richard Gingras, VP News, Google.
In a blog post, Gingras explained that Google has made ranking updates and published changes to its search rater guidelines to help better recognise original reporting, surface it more prominently in Search and ensure it stays there longer.
"This means readers interested in the latest news can find the story that started it all, and publishers can benefit from having their original reporting more widely seen," he wrote.
Hope to see independent analysis of who the winners and losers will be.— Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (@rasmus_kleis) September 13, 2019
"Google has adjusted its search algorithms to promote news articles it considers “significant original reporting”, its latest move to support journalism following years of criticism". https://t.co/qadTIEV9XZ
To minimise the risk of helping spread misinformation, the search engine instructed its raters to use the highest rating, "very high quality," for original news reporting "that provides information that would not otherwise have been known had the article not revealed it. Original, in-depth, and investigative reporting requires a high degree of skill, time, and effort."
In addition to that, the algorithm takes into account the publisher’s overall reputation for original reporting, including winning journalistic awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize.
Apart from higher ranking and longer exposure, the changes do not seem to be a move toward advertisement revenue share that would help news organisation monetise investigative reporting.
Free daily newsletter
- Tip: Going viral on social media
- Disinformation, distrust, disengagement: how can we reinvent journalism?
- Weekly journalism news update: Mental health in the newsroom, Instagram and Brexit coverage
- 'Brexit bump' or news avoidance? Here is how Brexit has affected the UK press
- World Mental Health Day: How can journalists and news audiences take better care of themselves?