Prominent liberal blogger Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, who runs one of the most popular liberal and progressive blogs in the world, says Google News is becoming unusable.
“They need some serious soul-searching about what they are and what their mission is,” wrote Moulitsas, better known as Kos. “A news operation needs to present news, and credible news at that. That means get rid of the blogs (mostly opinion), get rid of the no-name sites, the conspiracy sites, and the rest of that crap.”
Kos says he has asked Google to remove his site from Google News. Google News is Google’s fourth-most visited service after the main search page, Google image search and Gmail. Google News receives about 1.5 percent of all traffic to Google. That stat has decreased from 2005, when at one point it received about 5 percent.
Kos’ post was a response to a thread begun on another popular political site, AmericaBlog. Writing on that site, John in D.C. said Google has watered down news sources with poorly written opinion pieces.
“When I’m doing a news search, I want news site – not blogs, not left-wing conspiracy sites, or right-wing religious nutjobs,” read the entry. “News. If they want a blog search engine, that’s fine too. But the current state of affairs has taken a great news search engine and turned it into a bunch of noise.”
Comments on both blogs reveal a chorus of Google users disatisfied with what they perceive as a rampant lack of quality control at Google.*
“Google News has been my homepage forever,” wrote one commenter. “I thought the world was just become progessively more trivial and bizarre, but now that you mention it there must be something going on with their algorithms.”
Another commenter writes: “I wanted to read an article on the Nobel winner in literature, and without noticing the source, clicked on the first publication listed. A Hindu newspaper. Then noticed the story about Madonna (not that I care) and the first publication listed was Xinhua. Weird and pretty useless.”
Commenters also joined the discussion to defend Google News. In response to the comment about Xinhua, another commenter said the Chinese site is “a pretty interesting read if one wants to understand how the rulers of one quarter of humanity are thinking.”
Google News is unpopular among many publishers, who say that Google’s computer-based news search undermines the editorial process and takes traffic away from news sites. Google is currently being sued by Agent France Presse for including links to AFP stories in Google News. Google was recently ordered by a Belgian court to remove all content from a Belgian newspaper.
Google has been making some changes to its News site. In August it was revealed that Google has begun paying the Associated Press for its news content. In September, Google released Google News Archive search, a service in partnership with several publications that helps users search for older news items.
Google News may also face competition from smaller, niche news search engines such as Techmeme.
*Note: Commenters also complained with varying levels of vociferousness and lucidity about conservative conspiracies, the Wall Street Journal and George W. Bush.