It’s time to stand up for Google

Filed as General on March 24, 2005 12:57 pm

by Duncan

Duncan Riley> Is Google bashing the new cool? I could have easily substituted the opening quote as the headline here but I’d rather make a positive statement, despite some failings, Google is still one of the good guys, and it’s time to stand up for Google.

Many of you who don’t follow political blogs may be wondering what I’m talking about, well in short form here it is: Political blogs, in particular leading conservative blogs and bloggers has stirred up a storm in a tea cup over the inclusion of a “Nazi” website as a source for Google’s News service (since removed) mainly on the grounds that their blogs had not.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not defending, attacking or otherwise looking to get involved in a political argument here over the content of any of the sites, but the attack by many of these leading conservative political blogs seems to be based more on envy at being excluded from the service whilst ignoring the bleeding obvious fact as to why a Nazi site can get listed and they cant: they do not report news in a fashion that fits Google News in terms of textual format, whilst National Vanguard did.

But never let the real facts get in the way of a good conspiracy story.

Little Green Footballs (LGF) writes when the story first appeared: “Google News has now added the unspeakably vile neo-Nazi white supremacist web site National Vanguard to their index of legitimate news sources…And LGF has been turned down. Twice.”

This turning down by Google News is the basis for a conspiracy that spreads across the conservative blogosphere. Instapundit: “Nazis welcome, mainstream bloggers not”, Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine: “a nazi site, complete with love your race graphics, that is part of Google News, while mainstream sane blogs are not.”

See the pattern emerging here, repeat the same crap over and over again and soon Google is involved in a massive conspiracy to silence conservative bloggers instead of looking at the real reason. The writers behind LGF seem to be unable to deal with their own failings and find it far easier to launch into the Blogosphere’s own version of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, with Google as the witch.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret; The Blog Herald got knocked back once before being added to Google News. At first I was annoyed, but then I spent several months considering what got into Google News and what didn’t, and my conclusion, first hand news reporting (even if quoting from a Wire service) and original editorial made Google News, blogs that provide small posts and endless reprinting of quotes from the mainstream media don’t. Simple as that.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Blogs such as Buzz Machine or LGF don’t have a place in the newscycle, nor am I suggesting that the content of these sites and others should change, they all do a great job in developing and fostering critical discussion no matter what side of the political fence you site on, and they are big stakes players in their chosen niches. But let’s take a look at one entire post from LGF, the most recent post as I write:

Honoring Pat Tillman
A friend of Pat Tillman has organized a run in his honor on April 16 in Tempe, Arizona: Pat’€™s Run.

That’s right, 20 words excluding the headline, and counting 16 as a word. Again, I’m not arguing that any of the content is bad, its just not what Google uses in its news service. The post fails to develop the story at all in any context and does nothing more that provide a few links without any reference to a reader as to who Pat Tillman is, was, or what’s it all about, like any mainstream media source would. I could even go as far as to say this is blogging, but not journalism. Journalists consider the fact the readers may not know whom or what you are talking about and reference their text, strict bloggers don’t.

But lets look at a post from the high profile Buzz Machine from Jeff Jarvis, a former journalist.

The scariest thing about this…
: … is that instead of waking up to music or a buzzer like a normal person, Matthew Yglesias wakes up to politics. So he does, indeed, eat, sleep, and dream this stuff.
: Meanwhile, David Weinberger needs more sleep.

Again, not reporting news, providing a small narrative with some external links…getting the picture now? Lets aim even higher, Instapundit, with a post as quoted previously in this editorial

GOOGLE NEWS’ JOURNALISTIC STANDARDS: Nazis welcome, mainstream bloggers not. I haven’t paid much attention to this issue, but I’m often astonished at what turns up in a Google News search these days — and what doesn’t.

Picture painted? None of these blogs constantly provide a stream of regular usable news, only commentary, links and even rarer, properly written material that would meet Google’s standards.

But before you paint me as being full of blego, I’m the first to admit that The Blog Herald is not perfect, and slow news days are the hardest when there’s little in the way of tips in the inbox and not much is happening elsewhere, but lets take a very short post here (which is not representative of most posts) at the Blog Herald for comparative purposes:

Grouper adds blogs to service

Legal file sharing network Grouper has announced a new version of its software aimed at filtering personal media in a social on-line environment.

The new version includes a group blogging service by the name of ‘€œGlogs”, group rich-media blogs enabling discussion of files posted for streaming and sharing.

Note the differences, firstly it’s a first hand story, secondly it puts in context who Grouper is for those who might not know (like a newspaper), and it clearly states what has occurred. And I’d argue that this is far from my best post, and yet it meets basic rules.

If I’m referencing external stories or articles I will build in my take to the story (particularly when related directly to blogging) and use the external quotes sparingly and referenced, as opposed to just pointing readers elsewhere. If I’m pointing readers exclusively to read material externally, I’ll explain fully why and give a brief overview as to why, although I’d note that I don’t do this often because it probably doesn’t work well with Google News.

The moral therefore is thus: if you want to get included in Google News you have to adopt a news telling story that fits the format.

In that context Google is right to not include blogs such as LGF, Instapundit, Buzz Machine and others in the service, they simply don’t come up to scratch as tellers of news.

Google is still good.

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  1. By Dave Brown posted on March 24, 2005 at 2:19 pm
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    Duncan:

    Charles at LGF is avowedly and steadfastly anti-Nazi, and as he would say, anti-idiotarian. A quick search of his site would find a consistant theme. While your point is well taken, he was pissed at being dissed, I think that he went after Google for the same reason that I and others did: Google (carelessly, one hopes) gave preferncial status to a Nazi website. Picture painted?

    I have seen with my own eyes that is that the Left, maybe even more than the Right, is seeking to rehab aspects of the National Socialist movement for their own gains. This probably stems from a convoluted attempt to justify the well of Naziism, anti-Semitism, and Islamo-fascism that bubbles up daily from many quarters of the world:

    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/050321/480/jrl12003211516

  2. By Duncan posted on March 24, 2005 at 3:10 pm
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    Dave
    I respect what you are saying but the way to combat speech you don’t agree with should not be to seek its censorship, but should be to speak loudly and convince more people that your right. LGF throws around tags against the Nazi site without any strong writing to back it up on the site, then justifies it all by saying that they were rejected, with the natuaral reader conclusion on conpsiracy.

  3. By Adam posted on March 24, 2005 at 3:53 pm
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    Amen, Duncan!

    You’re absolutely right on three key counts:

    1) Google bashing is the new (annoying) “cool.” Our society loves to idolize people, companies, and so on, only to relish in tearing them down to size. Predictable and pathetic (both the over-eager idolizing and the vicious tearing down).

    2) LGF and the other conservative bloggers are having a bad case of sour grapes. Personally, I think LGF is a crappy blog… but more importantly, I don’t think (and many of the conservative blogs) really qualify as news outlets anyway. Funny how they all paint a vast leftwing conspiracy to explain why they’re on the losing end of the stick.

    3) Just because a newspaper or journal is included in Google News doesn’t mean that Googlers (or other sane people) necessarily LIKE that paper. Heck, I think Al Jazeera (sp?) is pretty darn scary, but it’s still a newspaper, still reporting the news. LGF is more like the teen in the backrow throwing spitwads at the teacher.

  4. WOLvesMarch 24, 2005 at 7:09 pm
  5. kesoMarch 25, 2005 at 12:38 am
  6. The Blogosphere’s first dedicated stalker?April 9, 2005 at 8:43 pm
  7. By Aakash posted on April 16, 2005 at 1:18 pm
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    This is bizarre. I just posted the following comment at a blog, regarding Charles Johnson’s “Little Green Footballs.” In this comment post, I link to a blog entry in which I address the issue of Charles Johnson, Jeff Jarvis, and Roger L. Simon being regarded as “conservative” bloggers. I was looking for other recent blog entries about LGF, and I just found this one – which incidentally, also links to the other aforementioned bloggers, and also referring to them as leading “conservative” weblogs!!

    Incidentally, the blogs referred to in this entry just happen to be the same ones that I addressed in this comment post… Here is it:

    ————

    It is tiring to see people refer to bloggers such as Mr. Johnson as “conservative.”

    I addressed this issue in one of my blog entries on the Terri Schindler-Schiavo situation.

    As you can see there, Mr. Johnson is regarded as a liberal who was “mugged by 9/11.” Other popular pro-war, left-of-center bloggers include Roger L. Simon, Jeff Jarvis, Michael Totten, and War Liberal.

    No offense towards Mr. Johnson, but characterizing viewpoints such as his as “conservative” gives true conservatism a bad name.

    ————

  8. By patriotboy posted on April 18, 2005 at 12:53 pm
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    Charles Johnson may say he hates nazis, but you’ll find rhetoric just as vile as that of the Third Reich’s on his site. Take this quiz and you’ll see what I mean.