Last week, Google NewsBlog announced:
Starting this week, we’ll be displaying reader comments on stories in Google News, but with a bit of a twist… We’ll be trying out a mechanism for publishing comments from a special subset of readers: those people or organizations who were actual participants in the story in question. Our long-term vision is that any participant will be able to send in their comments, and we’ll show them next to the articles about the story. Comments will be published in full, without any edits, but marked as “comments” so readers know it’s the individual’s perspective, rather than part of a journalist’s report.
I don’t really see how this is a radical departure from anything being done, uh, anywhere else? It’s not as if Google’s allowing interested parties to go in and change the news stories, just add comments after the story. You can already do that on blogs. You can already do that on WaPo.
But a blogger at IP Democracy is in a tizzy over Google’s new feature. In a post titled “Google Loses Mind; Now Accepts News Comments,” Cynthia Brumfield hems and haws over the fact that Google will not exercise editorial jurisprudence over the comments:
Doesn’t Google have some responsibility for the comments its publishes aside from merely ensuring the identity of the commenter? There are a lot of crazy, mean people out there who hold down responsible jobs and get quoted in news articles and blog items. So, can these people just say what they want after only having met the low threshold of 1. being cited in the article and 2. proving they are who they say they are?
Um, yes? Yes they can? They’ve been doing it for years? What?
(More on journalistic reaction to this here)