Google is now allowing publishers to choose top stories to highlight within the Google News section. The new Editors’ Picks section started as a Google Labs experiment last year and Google has been actively working with more than 20 major publishers on perfecting the new content feed. Publishers get to decide what stories, videos or audio clips are going to be displayed in the feed and send that information to Google with a special RSS feed. The RSS feed requirements include updating at least every 48 hours with new content, short headlines, author names, a minimum of three articles and a limitation of only news content in the feed. Advertising is not allowed within the Editors’ Picks section.
When a user arrives on the main Google News page, they will see a new widget on the right side of the page. Using two left and right arrows, the user scrolls through different publishers which are recognized by the logo of the publication. It’s likely that users will see publications based on geographical location, but also have the choice to customize the feed based off the preferences in a Google user account profile. Organizations already involved in the program include the Wall Street Journal, Newsday, The Atlantic, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Politico, Reuters and the Washington Post.
At the moment, it’s only available to users of the U.S. Google News page. Assuming the launch of the new widget is favorable to publishers and readers, it’s likely that Google will offer the option to international pages. Google News has often been vilified by publishers, including Rupert Murdoch. In 2009, Murdoch complained about visitors arriving from Google that wanted to read stories for free. Google responded by telling Murdoch to take his publications out of the Google index.