Coming late to this – but then again, I’ve been late to post pretty much all of this year, so what’s new? – but wanted to flag Google’s new “fact check” links that come up in Google News.
This is huge – or yuge! – news for both consumers of news and for structured journalism more broadly.
Why, you ask? It’s just a new kind of link.
Well, yes. But it’s three other things as well.
First, it’s a link driven by Google, which means millions – hundreds of millions – of people will see it and use it, and hence drive up the value and importance of fact-checking, at least in theory.
Second, it stems from a recognition by Google – or at least I hope it does – that people’s news needs aren’t driven solely by the freshest story on the subject, and more by a desire to understand a subject in context. That explains, to some extent, why Wikipedia has become a real destination for news searches, and certainly pushes the value of depth rather than just speed. (Not that speed doesn’t matter as well, of course).
And thirdly, by highlighting only the fact checks that conform to a certain schema, Google is rewarding the notion of structured journalism, and using the best of what the idea has to offer: Building greater long-term value out of structuring the information journalists collect, analyze and publish every day.
To be sure, some don’t see that as an advantage, as this piece from Slate suggests:
Google seems to have a somewhat narrow view of fact-checking journalism, one that defines it by form as much as by function. It will likely leave out plenty of stories that could merit the tag, while including some others that might not. At least at first, it seems to be surfacing stories mainly from dedicated fact-checking organizations, such as Politifact, rather than articles from mainstream news organizations.
And it’s true that there are fact checks embedded in all sorts of types of journalism that won’t be surfaced by this new link. On the other hand, it’s just as likely that Read More…