NewsQ Readings

What We’re Reading: August Updates from the NewsQ Library

A sample of just some of the articles, blog posts, and stories the NewsQ team has been reading recently.

Why are you seeing that news story? What exactly is an article of higher news or journalistic “quality”? How should news ranking and recommendation systems work? To facilitate reflection  about these questions, our team regularly curates links about journalism and news recommendation systems in the NewsQ Reading Library

Our team regularly curates links about journalism and news recommendation systems in the NewsQ Reading Library. 

Local News: An Essential Service?

In order for local news to have a future, “it has to be built for people when they truly need information before it is built for people when they are just curious,” says Sarah Alvarez in a March 2021 article for Nieman Journalism Lab

Alvarez is lead reporter and founder of Outlier Media, a news and information service that provides low-income Detroiters with tangible, individualized information. Local news, Alvarez writes, can be an essential service that provides information that helps people meet their challenges and achieve their goals every day.

Bonus link: Why local journalism must be considered infrastructure, by Viktor Pickard.

How Does Google Determine What Sites Appear in Google News?

Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz reports on how Danny Sullivan, Google’s Public Liaison for Search, has addressed how news sites actually appear in Google News in a July 2021 Google Search Central blog post. Sullivan’s blog post covers where news appears in Google, how a site becomes eligible to appear in Google News, how to know if your site is showing in news, how to improve visibility for your site and some more tips.

Schwartz speculates that Google and Sullivan are responding to widespread news publisher inclusion following Google’s decision in December 2019 to discontinue the application process to appear in Google. However, both Sullivan’s blog post and Schwartzs explainer for Search Engine Land provide useful hints about how Googles determine if news sites should show in Google News. 

Bonus link: Understanding the sources behind Google News, by Jen Granito, Search Product Manager, Google.

“Journalism is a Public Service. So Why Doesn’t It Represent the Public?”

“In order to move toward more equitable newsrooms, employers who have the means must offer only paid (rather than volunteer) internships,” writes Angela Yang in a March 2021 article for Poynter

Yang, who works as a business correspondent for the Boston Globe and as a freelance fact-checker, also says that recruiters must invest in applicants from community colleges and lesser-known state schools. “A shiny brand name is not the best determinant of ability,” Yang says. 

In her article for Poynter, Yang explains how journalism’s systemic industry barriers to entry drive out talent from marginalized groups at a time when the field can least afford to lose diversity. The need to reduce barriers to entry and improve diversity is real. In the News Leaders Association’s 2019 Newsroom Employment Diversity Survey, nonwhite staff made up only 22% of salaried employees at newsrooms.

NewsQ Journalism Panel Recommendations on News Feeds

The question of whether higher quality articles can be better ranked and recommended by news algorithms is central to the News Quality Initiative (NewsQ).

But what exactly is an article of higher news or journalistic “quality”? Do journalists even agree about what news quality means?

To see if consensus was possible around issues like these, NewsQ facilitated discussions among three panels of journalists and media scholars throughout 2020. To make the discussions practical for news algorithms, panelists worked through samples of actual news feed results from eight different products in three different areas of journalism: local, opinion, and science/health.

Read the NewsQ Journalism Panel Recommendations on News Feeds

Browse Our Zotero-Powered NewsQ Library!

It’s a work in progress, but the NewsQ team is busy curating a Zotero-powered library of reading materials about news ranking and recommendation systems. We also welcome your suggestions about additions to this library… Just contact us on Twitter!