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Extra! Extra! Google News redesigned to be more customizable and shareable
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 2:00 PM
Posted by by Kevin Stolt, Software Engineer

There’s an old saying that all news is local. But all news is personal too—we connect with it in different ways depending on our interests, where we live, what we do and a lot of other factors. Today we’re revamping the Google News homepage with several changes designed to make the news that you see more relevant to you. We’re also trying to better highlight interesting stories you didn’t know existed and to make it easier for you to share stories through social networks.



The new heart of the homepage is something we call "News for you": a stream of headlines automatically tailored to your interests. You can help us get it right by using the "Edit personalization" box to specify how much you’re interested in Business, Health, Entertainment, Sports or any subject you want to add (whether it’s the Supreme Court, the World Cup or synthetic biology). You can choose to view the stories by Section view or List view, and reveal more headlines by hovering over the headline with your mouse. We’ll remember your preferences each time you log in. If you don’t want customized Google News, hit "Reset personalization" to clear all personalization preferences. If you haven't previously customized and would prefer not to, simply save and close the "Edit personalization" box. You can always go back and change it later.

To give you more control over the news that you see, we’re now allowing you to choose which news sources you’d like to see more or less often. You can do so in News Settings. These sources will rank higher or lower for you (but not for anyone else) in Google News search results and story clusters. We’ve also added keyboard shortcuts for easier navigation, like in Gmail or Google Reader. When you’re in Google News, hit the question-mark key to pop up a full list of shortcuts.

There are the subjects that interest you and then there’s the major news of the day. To make it easy for you to find the big stories like Hurricane Alex, we’re adding links to topics that many outlets are covering. You’ll find these topics in the Top Stories section on the left side of the homepage as well as in linked keywords above headlines. Clicking on a topic link takes you to a list of related coverage that you can add to your news stream. You can change your preferences any time in "Edit personalization."

The redesigned Google News homepage is rolling out today in the English-language edition in the U.S., and we plan to expand it to all editions in the coming months. We’re making the ability to choose which sources you’ll see more or less often available in all English-language editions worldwide and plan to expand it soon. For more information about these changes, check out the video below or visit our Help Center.

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Labels: announcements, features
The Magic of a Game 7
Thursday, June 17, 2010 11:25 AM
Posted by David Smydra, Google News Online Team

Growing up a diehard Pistons fan in Detroit, Michigan, I was taught two things about the sport of basketball. First, always cheer against the Boston Celtics. Second, always cheer against the Los Angeles Lakers. Fortunately, this was an easy thing for me to do: the Pistons beat both teams en route to its first NBA championship in 1989.

Tonight, however, the Lakers and Celtics complete their twelfth championship match-up in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. This will be just the fifth time that a Lakers-Celtics Finals has reached seven games. And of course I know this by browsing through Google News Archive Search.

I can read about how Celtics coach Red Auerbach was "feeling a bit cocky" in the 1962 NBA Finals. Or about how the Celtics became the first major professional sports team to win eight consecutive championships by dispatching the Lakers in 1966. Or how Wilt Chamberlain wanted to beat Bill Russell's Celtics "in the worst way" in 1969. (He didn’t; the Celtics won again.) Or about how Lakers coach Pat Riley wanted to make history in the 1984 NBA Finals by beating the Celtics in Game 7, on the road, in the old Boston Garden. (Yet again, the Lakers lost.)

While the Celtics have history on their side, this year’s Lakers can boast a better overall record and are the defending champions, having won the 2009 Finals. Then again, they lost in the 2008 NBA Finals to...the Boston Celtics.

So it should be a great game, and well worth following. For that, be sure to check Google News.

As for my prediction, what can I say? I’m still recovering from the fact that the Pistons had their worst record in sixteen years and didn’t even make the playoffs. I guess it’s impossible for both teams to lose, huh?
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Labels: currently in the news
Krishna Bharat discusses the past and future of Google News
Tuesday, June 15, 2010 4:07 PM
Posted by Chris Gaither, Senior Manager, News Industry Relations

Krishna Bharat invented Google News more than eight years ago. His aim: help people easily find multiple perspectives on the news of the day by using computers to group together links to similar stories. Aside from a two-year stint in India to start our research and development operations there, Krishna has been working to improve Google News ever since.

Krishna visited the IJ-7 “innovation journalism” conference at Stanford University last week and held an on-stage conversation with David Nordfors, executive director of Stanford’s Center for Innovation and Communication. Below you can watch video of the conversation and hear from Krishna about why he created Google News, how it works, where it’s headed and why he’s optimistic about the future of professional journalism.

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Labels: currently in the news, features
Making your video news more discoverable: best practices for news publishers
Monday, May 24, 2010 9:20 AM
Posted by Benoit Lafortune, Sr. Strategist Google News, and Olivia Ma, YouTube News Manager

Video has always been a unique storytelling tool, especially useful when reporting the news. From raw, citizen-reported videos from the streets of Tehran, to student documentaries highlighting under-reported issues in local communities, or investigative reporting done by professional news outlets, just about every type of news video can now be found on YouTube. Video is also tightly integrated into the Google News experience, providing users different ways to consume and enjoy news, while giving news publishers the opportunity to reach a greater and more diverse audience.

We are working to make it easier to get your video content indexed in Google News, but ensuring it’s found in a timely fashion is another matter. So we thought we’d share six best practices for how news publishers can increase the discoverability of their news videos.

1. Timely uploads
Videos should be uploaded as quickly as possible -- this will help them reach the news homepage faster and be grouped with the most recent articles.

2. One story per video
Instead of having one video that contains multiple segments covering several different stories of the day, it's a better user experience (and easier for us to index), when there is one story per video, and the video title is specific (not something generic like “Breaking News”). At the very least, the description of the video should match the first story in the video.

3. Categorization
If you are providing general news coverage, select YouTube category “News & Politics” (which is youtube_category_id 25) when uploading your video. If you have multiple channels, clearly identify each category (politics, business, entertainment, sports, etc.).

4. More detailed descriptions
Similar to the first paragraph of a news article, descriptions of the news video should convey the who, what, when, where, and why of the story in a few sentences -- the more detail you can supply, the better.

5. Rich tags
Another way to convey the content of the video is using the keyword tags. Providing keywords that might not be in the description gives us more knowledge of what the video is about. Especially helpful are proper nouns: the names of the people, places, companies, etc. mentioned in the video.

6. Make it Embeddable
Be sure your video is embeddable on other sites since this is currently a technical requirement for being displayed in Google News. Additionally, if your videos are geo-blocked in certain regions, they will not appear in Google News.

If your news organization isn’t already making its video content available on YouTube and Google News, we encourage you to get started. More information on how to submit your news videos to Google News can also be found in the News Publishers Help Center, and you can watch this video for additional tips on news search engine optimization.
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Labels: help for publishers
Bringing Living Stories to WordPress
Thursday, April 29, 2010 11:58 AM
Posted by Eric Zhang, Software Engineer

For the last few months we’ve been talking with publishers about ways to make it easier for them to use Living Stories, our experimental format for displaying news coverage, on their own websites. Today we’re releasing a Living Stories plugin and theme for WordPress. Now anyone who publishes through WordPress can use the plugin to organize coverage of an ongoing event on a single dynamic page.

We first showcased Living Stories in December through a two-month-long experiment with the New York Times and Washington Post. We got great feedback from both readers and publishers. Our next step was to open-source the Living Stories format, allowing publishers to build on it using Google’s AppEngine infrastructure. We then released a version of the code that runs independent of our infrastructure. Since then, a number of publications have shared their ideas for ways we can offer additional tools to help them create Living Stories.

The WordPress plugin is a direct result of those conversations. We hope the plug-and-play solution will make it easy for you to get a Living Story up and running in almost no time at all. Head to our documentation page for detailed instructions. If you have questions or feedback, feel free to leave us a note in our help forum. We’re looking forward to reading your stories and seeing how the Living Stories format evolves on WordPress.
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Two more weeks to update your Google News Sitemap
Tuesday, April 20, 2010 3:05 PM
Posted by Andy Golding, Google News Software Engineer

Almost five months ago, we announced a redesign for our Google News Sitemap. We wanted to give publishers plenty of advance notice so they could make a smooth transition to the new format.

This transition period will end on May 4, when we'll discontinue supporting all old-style Google News Sitemaps. If you are a publisher and haven't already shifted your Google News sitemap to the new format, we urge you to do so by following these instructions as soon as possible. This update is key to avoid interruption in crawling your content and allow our crawler to capture all necessary information about your articles.

If you've already made the changes to your sitemap, we thank you. There is no need to worry about this update. If you're interested in learning more about Google News sitemaps, we encourage you to read this section of our Help Center and submit a sitemap for your articles in Google News. You may also be interested in checking out our Help Forum where other publishers have shared useful tips and discussed other Sitemaps-related questions.

Don't forget to update your Google News Sitemaps. There are only two more weeks to go!
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Labels: announcements
Eric Schmidt discusses innovation with news editors
Monday, April 12, 2010 6:48 PM
Posted by Chris Gaither, Senior Manager, Global Communications & Public Affairs

This week, hundreds of newsroom leaders from across the country are gathered in Washington DC for the American Society of News Editors’ annual conference. The theme of this year's event is "ideas," and Eric Schmidt shared many of his as the opening speaker. He spoke about some of the big trends that are shaping the Internet, such as the rise of mobile and cloud computing, and some lessons he has learned about how to navigate the Web’s constant pace of change.

He also talked about the importance of journalism to functioning democracies and encouraged the group to work together -- as well as with technology partners like Google -- to find new ways to reach and engage audiences, tell important stories and build thriving businesses online.

You can watch Eric's speech, which we've posted on YouTube, below. And if you’re interested in reading or contributing to the discussion about the future of news, check out the unofficial conference blog and #asne10 on Twitter.

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Labels: currently in the news
Open-sourcing the Living Stories format
Wednesday, February 17, 2010 8:04 AM
Posted by Neha Singh, Software Engineer, and Josh Cohen, Senior Business Product Manager

For the past two months, small teams of reporters and editors from the New York Times and Washington Post have been experimenting with Living Stories, a new format for covering news on the web. Using this technology platform, we can capture hundreds of developments as events unfold on a single dynamic page so that readers have many ways to easily digest the information. Living Stories has helped the Times enlighten readers on such subjects as global warming, the Afghanistan war, the N.F.L. playoffs and executive compensation. The Post has used it to report on health care reform, the Redskins' season and the overhaul of the D.C. school system.

Since we launched this proof-of-concept test on Google Labs in December, 75% of people who sent us feedback said they preferred the Living Stories format to the traditional online news article. Users also spent a significant amount of time exploring stories. This tells us there's a strong appetite for great journalism displayed in a compelling way.

In addition to the positive input from visitors, we've also heard from publishers interested in telling their own stories through the format. So we think it's time for the next stage of this experiment: releasing Living Stories more broadly to see what you can do with it. Today we're open-sourcing the code so all developers can build their own Living Story pages. (Here's the open-source documentation for technical details; read our Google News Help Forum to ask and answer general support questions.) Now that we're shifting into this public phase of the experiment, the Times and the Post are going to wind down their work on the version hosted on Google Labs. We'd like to thank them for embarking on this stage of the project with us. We're looking forward to continuing to work with them, and many other publishers, on Living Stories as well as other projects that help to advance how news is presented online.

In coming months, we're going to look into creating software tools that make Living Stories even easier to use for news organizations. Until then, we can't wait to see what fascinating works of journalism developers, reporters and editors, working together, create using the open-sourced Living Stories code.
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Labels: announcements
Starring stories in Google News
Monday, February 1, 2010 2:00 PM
Posted by Jude Britto, Software Engineer, Google News

A couple of months back, we launched the Custom Sections Directory feature in Google News to allow users to set up sections on topics of their interest, and to share them with other users.

Today, we are giving users even more options for following stories. Users can mark a story cluster by clicking on the star next to it, like they can with messages in Gmail and items in Google Reader. When you star a story in Google News, it's one way to let us know that you're interested in that subject. When there are significant updates, we will alert you by putting the headline in bold so you can get more information. You can also follow your 20 most recent starred stories in the "Starred" section of Google News.

We hope you enjoy the new feature and welcome your feedback.
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Labels: features
Google News Comes Back For More
Monday, January 25, 2010 11:53 AM
Posted by Andy Golding and Kiran Gunda, Software Engineers

If you read news online, you've probably noticed that articles aren't static. They often change over time, to reflect things like typo fixes, shifts in emphasis, new information or corrections of previous mistakes. Sometimes they even switch URLs, or become unavailable after a certain period of time. As a human being, reading at most a few dozen articles a day, this is no big deal.

But if you happen to be, say, a news search engine that crawls hundreds of articles at thousands of sites every minute, this presents a unique set of challenges. How do you balance looking for new content against the need to update older content? How can you make sure the content is fresh, doesn't link to dead pages or display headlines that have been changed by the publisher?

To deal with these issues, Google News has implemented a recrawl feature that allows us to focus on getting the newest articles around while still ensuring that we're displaying the most up-to-date information. From the moment we discover a new article, we'll keep revisiting it looking for changes. Since we've noticed that most changes to articles occur just after they're published, we revisit articles most frequently in the first day after we've found them. In some cases, we'll even revisit articles we had trouble crawling the first time around. After that, we visit them less often. Either way, we try hard to present users with the freshest news. (We bet whoever wrote "Dewey Defeats Truman" wishes they had recrawl!)

For readers, this feature is intended to reduce the number of outdated headlines and dead links you might find. And for publishers, rest assured that we'll be back to find your latest stories and updates as soon as we can.
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