After years of having its news generated by algorithms, Google News is testing a new “Editor’s Pick” section with publishers, enabling them to select and promote specific content to users.
The new feature — a module of content that is hand-picked by editors at partnering news organizations — with a “small percentage” of users, according to report by Megan Garber of Nieman Lab. Partners include less than a dozen publishers, such as Reuters, Slate and The Washington Post.
Although social media and other web tools have enabled users to personalize their news streams, the ubiquity of content has created an echo chamber that some readers are trying to parse through to find not only what they want to know, but the news they “need” to know as well. This is where human “editors” and curators play a crucial role in helping readers filter through the noise.
And although it is only a small test, it marks a significant shift for Google NewsGoogle News, which includes the footer tagline: “The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program.” See the screenshot of stories picked by Slate’s editors below:
The Value of Curation in the Age of Personalized News
It may be a step in the right direction for GoogleGoogle — who began experimenting with new content formats to present content using the likes of FastFlip and contextualized content with Living Stories — to help news organizations and showcase the curation expertise of editors. It can also give publishers the opportunity to put forward and promote content that may not be performing well in terms of traffic or meme value, but are important to share in the interest of public awareness (i.e. government scandals to hold officials accountable, human rights injustices in countries afar, etc.).
There is no doubt that news has become increasingly social; readers are often pointed to content that is recommended by friends on FacebookFacebook, TwitterTwitter and DiggDigg. That’s because there is a lot of value in receiving news from friends, whom often have similar interests.
News That Content Farms Can’t Point You To
Limor Elkayam, the founder of iSpotAStory.com, which curates content from the Web using editors, told MashableMashable that she thinks that Google is realizing the value and benefit of having human editors filtering content.
“Computer algorithms are great for many things, but when it comes to news, people still want that human element, telling them what they should read or pay attention to; it’s why people love Twitter for getting news…there’s a human behind it.”
Whatever Google decides to do with the feature, it has the potential to add a lot of value to readers in getting pointed to content by professional journalists. What do you think? Is this a feature you find worthwhile?
Image courtesy of iStockphotoiStockphoto
[screenshot credit: Nieman Journalism Lab]