Google News Labs

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In June 2015 Google announced its new initiative, the Google News Lab, as an effort to provide tools and resources for journalists. The official blog post announced it as “a new effort at Google to empower innovation at the intersection of technology and media” (June 22, 2015). These goals aligns with the Google’s official mission “to ensure quality information is accessible and useful everywhere” and “to help ensure that innovation in news leads to a more informed, more democratic world.”

According to the Verge, Google tools are “aimed at citizen journalists” “from all backgrounds” (22 June, 2015). The unveiled effort is branded as “the data for more insightful storytelling”: “as more data sets and more tools for analysis are allowing journalists to create insights that were never before possible.” The Google’s News Lab state that “there’s a revolution in data journalism happening in newsrooms today”.

These observations echo much of the rationale for the kind of research on news verification that we have been involved in at at LiT.RL.We recently wrote 3 short papers discussing 1) the new journalistic practices (Chen, Rubin & Conroy, 2015), 2) various types of fake news that seep into news media (Rubin, Chen & Conroy, 2015) and 3) potential analytical tool solutions (Conroy, Chen & Rubin, 2015) to ensure higher quality of news.

What we have been publishing about (see other works on ‘clickbait’ and the use of rhetorical structure to identify deception) is resonating with Google’s sentiment stated below:

“It’s hard to think of a more important source of information in the world than quality journalism. At its best, news communicates truth to power, keeps societies free and open, and leads to more informed decision-making by people and leaders. In the past decade, better technology and an open Internet have led to a revolution in how news is created, distributed, and consumed.”
The Google’s News Lab offers a three-way solution:
1) “ensuring [Google] tools are made available to journalists around the world (and that newsrooms know how to use them);
2) getting helpful Google data sets in the hands of journalists everywhere;
3) and through programs designed to build on some of the biggest opportunities that exist in the media industry today.”
It is inspiring to see a concerted effort, to see its early days of R&D, and much overlap with our own agenda! Notice, that as of December 2015, there is no Wikipedia entry for this initiative. Neither is there much buzz around it on social media yet.

© 2015, Rubin, Victoria. All rights reserved.

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