Thursday, August 09, 2007

Google News to Let Subjects of Stories Comment

August 8th, 2007 by Dan Gillmor


From the Google News blog comes news of a new initiative “Perspectives about the news from people in the news.”

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.

How will this work? How will Google verify that the people commenting on what’s been written about them are actually the people in question? What kind of data-gathering will this lead to on Google’s part?

The fact that Google is trying this is, in one sense, testament to an abject failure on the part of traditional news operations. With the Net, they could have given people the chance to comment in this way — above and beyond the standard comment published as part of a story or a letter to the editor. They didn’t, and left this opening.

If Google pulls this off, it will be a huge boost for one company — Google — because people looking for responses to news articles will head to the search site, not just to the site of the original story.

It’s a fascinating initiative, no matter what. And it’s not too late for news organizations to get their acts together and give the people they write about a convenient platform of their own — Dave Winer suggests blogs (”Let the readers sort it out”) — to reply.

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