Google News finally acknowledges it needs an editor: You

Changes to homepage put greater emphasis on personalization

Google News, your software-driven source of news and entertainment, has unveiled a series of personalization features designed to let users take greater control of what they read and how they share it.

From a Google News blog post announcing the changes:

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.

Google News has always done an excellent job of collecting, ranking and presenting what we in the journalism business call (somewhat derisively) pack stories: Breaking news, primarily, that is deemed important and/or appealing enough to warrant coverage by hundreds if not thousands of media outlets.

The model had been limited in that it short-changed a world of great content that hadn't earned pack status.  Also, the model would often mean that Google News would be late to highlight coverage of a breaking news event, because by design it would need a critical mass of coverage before deeming the story worthy of homepage presentation.

Over the years, Google News has made various attempts to address these criticisms, but has still come across as limited and lead-footed to those who want their news more diversified and five minutes ago.

More details from that post:

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 close the "Edit personalization" box. You can always go back and change it later.

Not everyone has the time or inclination to take advantage of personalization features, of course, and it's certain that many Google News regulars will continue to be pleased with the basic menu that its software provides.

Others will enjoy playing editor.

(Update: Certainly a coincidence, but Microsoft just last week announced changes to its Bing News homepage.)

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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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