The Media Oxpecker: Are You a ‘Standout’ on Google News?

Every Friday we round up media & tech industry news you may have missed while you were busy guarding the butts of San Francisco.

  • Picking up where we left off last week on the changes to Facebook’s homepage and profile pages, AAN-pal Vadim Lavrusik has an explainer, “What Facebook’s latest updates mean for journalists,” over at the Nieman Journalism Lab.

    Lavrusik breaks down the new “subscribe” feature, the “timeline” profile format, and what the real-time homepage ticker means for news organizations.

    The takeaway: The central News Feed highlights “top stories” based on what’s popular among your friends and the types of news items you’ve liked or interacted with in the past, and the smaller Real-Time Ticker on the right is meant to expose you to breaking news, faster. So one portion is ruled by fancy algorithms that will continue to learn from you and improve over time, and the other portion essentially acts as a Twitter feed.

    But not everyone is a fan of the new changes. Gizmodo‘s Mat Honan decries the “forced exposure” of passive sharing social apps such as Spotify and the Washington Post Social Reader, while The Atlantic‘s Alexis Madrigal asks whether a computer algorithm is capable of understanding the concept of “meaning.”

  • Last weekend Google News unveiled its new “Standout” tag, which is designed to highlight “exceptional original reporting, deep investigative work, scoops and exclusives, and various special projects that quite clearly stand out.”

    By adding a small piece of code to the header of the story, publications can nudge Google News to spotlight that particular story:

    Standout is only one signal among many — it won’t on its own influence stories’ placement on Google News — but it’s one way for news orgs to tell Google, essentially, “This is our best stuff.” (And then to ask Google: “Um, could you please highlight it?”)

    They’ve also implemented controls to prevent websites from abusing the system:

    But what’s to prevent web sites from marking every story they publish as “standout”? Google is limiting news organizations from tagging their own content more than seven times per week; blow past that speed limit and your tagged content will get throttled or ignored outright.

    One aspect of the Standout tag that’s getting a lot of attention is the ability to tag other people’s work as “standout,” essentially encouraging publications to play nice with one another and recognize each others’ work. (There’s no limit to how often you can standout other pubs’ work.) But will old school news outlets, who are already loathe to link out to their competitors, play along? Google is betting that positive reinforcement will nudge them in the right direction.

  • Groupon is trying to remedy its one-night-stand reputation with “Groupon Rewards,” which aims to increase customer loyalty for its merchants.
  • “We are concerned that the current U.S. economic malaise will aggravate the ongoing secular pressure on Gannett’s newspaper-publishing business,” said S&P, which lowered Gannett’s credit rating from positive to stable.
  • Los Angeles Times executives are “expecting a really bad fourth quarter“:

    [Pressman Ed] Padgett said a senior vice president told the pressroom “we’ve got three years more of printing the hard copy Times before they shut it down. Our plant manager says five years.”

  •, the content-farmy division of the New York Times Co., “is eliminating 15 of the 22 full or part-time positions in the editorial department.
  • Are you using third-party apps to post your content on Facebook? It might be hurting your page engagement.
  • And why does Facebook work for all, but Twitter just for some? Nick Bilton cracks it up to the former’s intuitive interface.
  • How can publishers overcome the abundance of mobile ad inventory? By targeting specific audiences and pushing beyond static display ads in favor of interactive ads.
  • Facebook ads, which account for one out of every three ad impressions in the U.S., are taking spending away from display, not search.
  • The Wall Street Journal revised its privacy policy to allow the site to connect personally identifiable information with web browsing data without user consent.
  • Apps rule the mobile world, but HTML5 is spreading and promises to level the playing field.
  • And finally, Google Analytics has released a new real-time reporting feature, much to the delight of Chartbeat addicts.

  • Previously: Facebook Announces Major Changes, Again