Thursday, November 18, 2010

The New Google Journalism Tag Could Work in Reverse

Yesterday, Google announced a new Meta tag for journalists and bloggers.

The new tag is designed to give credit to the publisher who originally 'broke' or published a story.

Anyone who's worked in the news field knows that breaking a story is considered a huge accomplishment.

The writer, publication, and every one who worked on the piece feels good .... not to mention bringing additional credibility to the organization.

Back in the day, you had a local news team and two teletype machines.  One was from UPI and the other, if I remember correctly, was AP.  You paid for these services and could use the content in your publications and/or broadcasts.

These days, especially since the advent of 'real-time' and more specifically Twitter, coupled with almost instant RSS delivery of press releases, the lines of who's breaking what have not only become grey, but at times, it's simply been impossible to determine who published what first.

Last year, the FTC issue a ruling (PDF) that bloggers and others disclose any affiliation between their posts (tweets ?!) and the company they were promoting.  I wrote this at the time and it's pretty much panned out.  The ruling has gone largely ignored, even by some pretty prominent writers.

Now, in what appears to be a good faith effort by Google, they re proposing two news Meta tags.  One for attribution and the other for syndication.

Two problems:

1) Many reputable blogs and news organizations have, in fact, been crediting their source with a link.  They could decide to drop that protocol and just use the tag in which case the original writer loses ... big time.

2) With LOTS of publications switching to popular blogging software, it would take time for some sort of plug-in to be developed for this, and, in some cases, would necessitate a complete re-write of code.

At one point, 'copping stories' from Twitter became so prevalent that Reuters informed their staff NOT to break stories there.

My thinking is that those that have been 'generous' enough to cite the original article (complete with a link) will now implement the tags instead, feeling completely justified with their 'lift and run'.

The syndication tag, on the other hand makes complete sense.  Google is trying to prevent duplicate content in their index but that too could be ignored as some content appears in the main index and some syndicated content appears in Google News.

Time will tell but, over time, there's gotta be a better way.

No comments: