The News According To Google How Does Algorithmic Infomediation Frame the Work of French Journalists ?!
The News According To Google
How Does Algorithmic Infomediation
Frame the Work of French Journalists ?!
Nikos Smyrnaios, University of Toulouse
Guillaume Sire, University of Paris 2
JSS-ECREA Conference, Thessaloniki, March 27-29 2014.
Research question & method!
What does Google do to journalism ?
More than 50 interviews with French journalists, SEO
specialists in news organizations & Google employees
Analysis of 252 online news items of 6 news websites
Study of patents related to Google News
Longtime observation of of the relationship between
French news websites publishers and Google (2003-2013)
News infomediation ?
“Connecting information supply with information demand
and helping both parties involved determine the value of
that information” (Hagel III, Rayport, 1997, p. 9).
Infomediaries operate a mix
of aggregation & distribution
of 3rd party content
Based on algorithms and
social interactions, ﬁnanced
by ads and/or commissions
Google but also Facebook,
Twitter, Apple, ISPs etc.
Coopetition = simultaneous cooperation & competition
between publishers & infomediaries
Mutual dependency: Google needs publishers for the
content, publishers need Google for the trafﬁc
But the balance of power largely in favour of Google.
Competition for online advertising revenue and symbolic
antagonism: who’s rules follow the news ?
In France: 2003-2008 conﬂicting period
2013 Google agrees to pay €60M over 3 years
In the meantime publishers
“enslave themselves to Google”
Newsworthiness for Google
Ranking in Google news
For news sites: productivity,
For news topics: cluster size,
For news items: novelty,
originality, click-through rate,
mentions in social media,
2 trafﬁc sources:
Google for archives Google News for hot news
Proliferation of “Keyword:…” style headlines (Google
loves them) e.g.
2 headlines (rarely used) : 1 for Google, 1 for readers
Shovelware: re-writing of press agency and PR material
(time consuming, low value for journalists)
Use of Google Insights to know most searched subjects
Use of analytics to appreciate audience performance
These are mandatory practices that depend on the
context. But they are on the rise
SEO for news
Insourcing : SEO specialists inside all main French
publishers’ online newsrooms
Internal position: close to management, better paid than
journalists, no hierarchical power over journalists but
“technical” inﬂuence (through management)
External position : represent publishers towards Google
- use of Sitemaps, meta-tags, microdata
- articles behind a paywall become free access via Google,
- massive use of internal links,
- inﬂuence on publishing timing
- Keyword centered landing pages
- Re-publishing with changing headlines
Le Conjugueur : top news websites intensely use
(hidden) links towards their own dictionaries
Publishers can be
tempted to sell
outgoing links with
In France not yet
In the US & the UK
it is already a
Publishers’ business strategies towards Google as a
compromise: revenue /dependency/deontology
Does Google privilege his advertising partners ?
Market share on
Google News’ Top
Organic reach on Facebook
Facebook pushes paid reach
Launch of Public Content
Solutions (PCS) dedicated to
Apple imposes draconian
Terms & Conditions
Gets 30% commission
Newsstand dedicated to
Online media are highly dependent on infomediaries
Google is still the most important one for publishers
SEO specialists are mediators between journalists,
marketers, managers & Google
There is an important impact of SEO on journalism
(practices, work routines, editorial choices)
Nevertheless this impact depends on the context
(journalists capacity of negotiation, business
models, professional ethics)