Google’s Bloggy New Approach to News

By  |  Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at 11:16 am

At Google’s unveiling of its new real-time search yesterday, a questioner in the audience asked Marissa Mayer and other Google honchos whether the launch signaled the end of journalism. Um, no. Actually, Google is in multiple ways a force for good when it comes to the news. And here’s one small but interesting example: It’s working with both the New York Times and the Washington Post on something called Living Stories. It’s an experimental new way to organize multiple articles on one news topic–here’s Google’s video explanation.

What strikes me about Living Stories isn’t what’s new about the idea, but what’s (relatively) old about it: It takes reverse-chronological display and other presentation concepts from the world of blogs, and applies them to a specific ongoing news story. Here are the Living Stories currently available in Google Labs.

Makes perfect sense to me: Every news story worth paying attention to is an ongoing news story, and putting everything in one place with the newest stuff up top and older items summarized below makes enormous sense.

It’s jarring when you think about it: We’re a decade and a half into the online news era, and most online news sites still feel more like newspapers than unlike them–they’ve got a home page that feels like a front page, and sections that feels like…sections. Projects such as Living Stories (and the NYT’s Skimmer view, which officially debuted last week) are interesting takes on one of the many challenges that faces news organizations: Bringing all the goodness of newspapers online, then remixing it in ways to go far beyond what dead trees could ever do.

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