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Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2007 at 1:20 pm

Google to Show Special Commentary by News Subjects

By Robert Gorell
August 8th, 2007

Google News is shaking things up today, announcing a special comments feature that allows subjects of news stories to talk back, right next to the stories in which they’re featured.

We’ll be trying out a mechanism for publishing comments from a special subset of readers: those people or organizations who were actual participants in the story in question. Our long-term vision is that any participant will be able to send in their comments, and we’ll show them next to the articles about the story. Comments will be published in full, without any edits, but marked as “comments” so readers know it’s the individual’s perspective, rather than part of a journalist’s report.

Looks to me like another opportunity for transparency and spin to get pureed in the media blender — for better and for worse. What do you think?

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Comments (3)

  1. This sounds like a huge can of worms. What’s to prevent folks from posing as the participant?…

  2. Hey Robert,

    Long-time listener, first-time caller.

    This sounds like a new twist on the old “Letters to the Editor” section in print publications. The only difference being the actual reader-submitted letter will now be listed RIGHT NEXT to the article which it’s referencing. I think it’s brilliant; we should’ve been doing this a long time ago in a publishing galaxy far away…

    The problem starts with actual subjects debating the accuracy of the accounts, but that’s been an element of news/reporting since the first town prophet stood on a rock and exalted a local in sandals. WWJD? He’d encourage the debate and ask for real feedback, from the tax guy, the town escort and everyone else. Part of having a Technocracy is not allowing the Technorati (sometimes, Google news writers) the only microphone in the joint.

    Don’t be scurred, y’all. It’s just another modicum of honest communication: something the larger media outlets have been lacking for years of their unchallenged reign.

    -Rox

  3. Rox,

    I hope the comments by Google News(ies), as it were, are half as entertaining as yours. Still, I have this nagging feeling that the only people who will take them up on it are gonna be D-list celebrities who don’t realize we’re laughing at them, not with them, small town attorneys, people who still claim to have fathered Anna Nicole’s baby, and anyone else in desperate need of someone else handling their PR.

    I’m not scurrr’d by it. It’s just that the fact that I’m not scurr’d by it makes me hear Neil Postman‘s voice in the back of my head that much more. (I never met him, but I like to imagine he sounded like any other even-tempered soothsayer of doom.)

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