Comments on: Google juice dampens news headlines Wed, 16 Nov 2016 01:37:11 +0000 hourly 1 By: Killer Mon, 02 Nov 2009 13:58:18 +0000 The best of both worlds is possible. While headlines will become keyword Google-fodder,there is always the subtitle for our pithy pun-packed headlines. Write for the search engine to get eyes on it, then write to the human. Google and journalism need not be mutually exclusive. We need to let go of our “paper thinking” and think about the reader, who these days, is online.

By: The Bell Fri, 14 Aug 2009 17:48:06 +0000 Blimey, is it just me, or was journalism always this stressful? Writing on the laptop as one occasionally must en route to Casablanca in midflight 3-drink-minimum mating embrace with a couple of leggy Euro-supermodels, it might appear as though I had failed previously to spell out the digitally obvious. Sorry…

For present purposes I might’ve said – and definitely meant – this:
Headlines are, as they always have been, to all news articles as meta-tags and superficial keywords are to all websites.

On the logically robust assumption that Google’s new souped-up search algo will be no less mature than its existing one, I believe it fair to insist that the tradition of inventively cryptic, tongue in cheek, hog-wild, at times debatably relevant headlines including the one above, is under no form of assault whatsoever – well, perhaps other than from cagey, possibly insecure editors reluctant to rely on absolute editorial excellence.

Regardless of any mystery surrounding its formulation, Google’s new algorithm may be expected to go even deeper into content and thus be even less headline-centric than the way things presently function. Which is to say, Google won’t be limited to online-headline evaluation at all, nor has it been anytime recently.

In the final analysis, it’s only en passant about the headlines, it’s mainly about the content; always has been, always should be. Ergo: the headlines of the future need be no less inventive than those of the past, or present. And if they are, it won’t be on account of Google.

No hard feelings, Mic, old chap. That is, if I may call you “old” or “chap”… there’s really Schiphol to worry about. Certainly not as long as the content measures up.

By: t obrien Fri, 14 Aug 2009 05:31:37 +0000 As headline editor of the 1974 Westminster (Maryland) High School ‘OWL’ newspaper, I must say this is very bad news.

But wait, journalism has been effectively dead since the advent of “Good Morning America”, at least in this country. The Web and it’s pseudo news reporters have done nothing more than put another fork in it. Is it done yet? Rightly so.

Civilization as we know it is dead and we can thank Al Gore for that, eh?

tim in san jose

By: Randy Fri, 14 Aug 2009 04:16:12 +0000 Cyril wrote:
“Interesting points raised in this piece. Will Google ultimately controle how news is covered?”

As far as a few dozen colleagues and I are concerned, they already do!

They control, filter, downgrade, eliminate and “bury” whatever news they don’t like!

By: John Twillingham Thu, 13 Aug 2009 23:43:27 +0000 I am very confused by this. Haven’t headlines been altered for a long time now? How dull can they get?

By: Mary-ann Thu, 13 Aug 2009 23:40:43 +0000 Hard to imagine what reading news online will be like in a few years. Will websites even exist anymore? Or will everything look like a Twitter or RSS feed?

By: Mic Wright Thu, 13 Aug 2009 23:40:35 +0000 Hi “The Bell” and Ian,

I don’t think we actually disagree on this. To put the short post into context – it was written at Schiphol airport at very short notice at Reuters’ request. I was glad to contribute but it represents a very slight comment on an issue which I could speak about for hours.

I agree that creativity remains the key in getting your news noticed. I also believe that it’s important to have a dedicated audience and to serve them well. My comment was purely on the way that Google’s search algorithms affect the craft of writing headlines. It’s moved from an art to a science in some respects.

I work on a site where quality is our biggest watch word. I have not hoisted the “white flag” nor will I ever do so. I have a background in both print and online journalism and I love good journalism. I work hard and I believe in creating great features and news stories. But as a professional working in this industry, I can’t ignore the material realities of getting things noticed online.

The Bell – I did not deny that Google search results are based on many more things than simply keywords. BUT this piece was about the affect that Google changing their approach to keywords and headlines will have. The recipe for their algorithm is a mystery in many way – very few people know everything they take in to account and how that mix is worked out. I am not afraid of Google, I am not claiming to be “with-it” or totally on the ball about everything.

However, I’m also not big on being called “mate” by anyone. You make some good points but this was a very short and quick look at a particular element of Google searches and their affect on the way news is written. I don’t make the rules nor do I believe that it’s necessary to stick to them slavishly. You clearly know your stuff but don’t presume that I’m a knumbskull. I’m not.

By: Cyril Thu, 13 Aug 2009 23:37:52 +0000 Interesting points raised in this piece. Will Google ultimately controle how news is covered?

By: The Bell Thu, 13 Aug 2009 16:02:21 +0000 How one supposedly with-it guy can so totally miss the boat beats the ‘ell out of me. Afraid of Google? Surely not, and yet… sure looks like it.

Sorry, mate, but Google rankings already have everything to do with website refresh rates over time in terms of hard content, as vehemently opposed to synthetic keywords, Flash panel bling or clunky headlines alone. And rightly so.

The Caffeination you see coming simply (to my mind) puts more onus on web Content people to inject some – or more – of that elusive Substance into their actual copy, and to keep it dynamic at all times. Far from draining their native creativity such as it may be, rather it should make them perforce a bit more productive, possibly faster as well. The net result ought to finally separate the espresso from the fluffy decaf soy latte, if you catch my drift.

Have some faith in the powers of human ingenuity, willyer? Moving with the times, loik… You know, as in, more so-called web content creators actually earning the paycheck only a few of them ever deserved to begin with.

What all this really means in subtext is that Google is about to deal flimsy Do-It-Yourself, me-too-LOL, scuse-me-Sergeant-I-think-the dogs-‘ave-found-something search engine substitutes like Twitter a bit of an ‘arsh blow upside the head with a pointed instrument. And not a moment too soon, if I may say so.

So, come on, Mic… You’re a bloody News Editor fergawdsake. This story’s not worth a tweet. As though one should ever emit such a thing.

By: Ian Kemmish Thu, 13 Aug 2009 14:00:02 +0000 Well, I suppose that explains why headlines have become more and more misleading recently (the nadir surely being the Times headline about David Hockney and iPhones, when the accompanying article did not even contain one occurrence of the word “iPhone”), but I’m not sure I’d call that more “straightforward”!

What depresses me most, though, is that you seem to have already hoisted the white flag. Do you really assume that you have no loyal readers whatsoever? (With the attendant implications for your employees’ attitude to quality?) Or merely that they are all smart enough to be running ad-blockers, and that therefore they “don’t count”?