New products from startups and entrepreneurs are advancing news aggregation beyond what Google News offers.
When Google News was launched four years ago, it did the one thing that newspapers refused to do, and that was link to other publications.
The product was a hit -- and continues to be popular -- with the Web audience, since it offered an easy and surefire way of getting multiple angles on a story from several different publications. (Google News is the #1 traffic referrer to this blog.)
This hasn't made newspapers very happy. Editors often bemoan that aggregators like Google News take traffic away from their sites and subvert the editorial process.
But since the launch of Google News, companies and entrepreneurs have launched competing technologies that do a good (and perhaps better) job of providing news context. Today, newspapers have gotten wise to the link game, and they're starting to incorporate those technologies that will help them automate that linking process. In other words, newspapers are beginning to act a lot like portals.
For example: Inform.com launched a new product today called Inform Publisher Services, which offers publishers a way to scan the Web for news and blog posts and offer them up as related links on a publication's article page. The company's goal: Get newspaper readers to spend more time on the newspaper's site, instead of using sites like Google or Yahoo to find the news.
Inform's clients include The Washington Post, a newspaper that likes to experiment with Web journalism. Earlier this year, the Post started testing another linking technology, Pluck's BlogBurst, which helps the paper provide relevant links to blogs on article pages.
Meanwhile, the Web is full of aggregators and UGC sites like Wikio, Topix, Reddit, Newsvine, Techmeme and Digg, which offer many of the same stories, some impressive collating and contextual technology, plus a good bit of attitude.
Google News may finally be out of beta, but now it looks like it has some catching up to do.