Google woos newspapers with Living Stories

Google has continued efforts to pacify newspaper publishers with a new tool that combines all their articles on a single news story under one constantly updated webpage.

Google woos newspapers with Living Stories

The Living Stories prototype updates the webpage with new articles as they are written, with a timeline listing the stories in chronological order.

As it stands, these pages are cluttered affairs, filled with links, images and dense text. In an effort to make it easier to wade through the information, users can filter the page to show only images, headlines, videos, or specific types of articles, say opinion pieces.

Articles that have already been read will be greyed out, and update alerts can be sent over email or subscribed to via an RSS feed.

The technology was developed in partnership with the The News York Times and The Washington Post, but Google says it’s looking to share Living Stories with other news agencies.

We’re also looking to develop openly available tools that could aid news organisations in the creation of these pages

“Over the coming months, we’ll refine Living Stories based on your feedback. We’re also looking to develop openly available tools that could aid news organisations in the creation of these pages or at least in some of the features,” says Josh Cohen, senior business product manager on the Google blog.

“If you decide to implement this on your site, we would love to hear about that, too. At the very least, we hope this collaboration will kick off debate and encourage innovation in how people interact with news online,” he concludes.

In an article on The Washington Post explaining its involvement with the scheme, the newspaper claims that by grouping the stories under one web address, “the Times and Post could boost their Google rankings, which would tend to push those pages toward the top of the list when people search for that subject.”

Murdoch calling

However, this doesn’t address the concerns raised by Rupert Murdoch, that boosting search traffic doesn’t necessarily equate to boosting advertising dollars. In an effort to address this, the News Corp owner has already threatened to put up pay walls around his newspaper sites, and withdraw them from Google’s listings.

Speaking at a London event on the future of content online, a Google executive claimed the company was unmoved by the threat. “We’ve heard the conversations about putting up pay walls and removing their content from Google and putting it on Microsoft, and all those sorts of things,” said Sarah Hunter, Google’s head of UK public policy.

“To be honest, we’re kind of open-minded about the ways they want to try and monetise their content. They made the decision over ten years ago now to make their content free and to advertise to make money, but if they want a different model, we’ll work with them to see how they can achieve it.

“The public debate is often much more extreme than the conversations we have with publishers,” she added.

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