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Foreign Portals Practice Different Editorial Policies

Posted July. 03, 2008 06:40,   


Naver, the nation’s largest online portal, announced yesterday that it will not edit its news service, ending its practice of selecting and placing news articles based on the company’s own editorial judgment.

Major domestic online portals have been criticized for denying social responsibilities that come with providing news from leading media outlets. In contrast, most leading online portals abroad have given up their editorial independence.

- Google: computer software as news editor

Who judges which news articles go on Google, the world`s largest Web search engine?

The answer is a computer. Google News (news.google.com), which displays headlines from more than 4,500 English-language news sources worldwide, has no editorial team. Instead, a computer program selects which stories to post on its Web site. The software automatically selects articles by making a comprehensive evaluation based on how often and on what sites a story appears online.

The Google site says stories are sorted regardless of political viewpoint or ideology and a wide variety of perspectives on any given story is available.

This shows Google’s willingness to give up its role as a de facto media outlet.

With the goal of offering its readers a wider variety of perspectives, Google News offers links to dozens or even thousands of articles on a subject. The computer ranks and decides which media outlet’s article appears first.

The first preference of the “value neutral” computer program is generally articles from major U.S. dailies such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The Washington Post or news agencies such as The Associated Press.

Unlike Google News, Yahoo! News (news.yahoo.com) edits its news sources. Staff sort and arrange headlines in accordance to section, such as domestic news, politics, business, politics and sports. Yahoo’s editing, however, is far from the traditional method of evaluation and revision of content based on an editor’s perspective and judgment, as Yahoo! News usually selects and places breaking news.

Thus Yahoo! News headlines are largely those of breaking news. An overwhelming number of stories are picked from the AP. Some say the Yahoo! News Web site is hardly different from the AP’s.

Clicking an article on Yahoo News takes the reader directly to the site that published that story. When the word “Obama” is searched, articles from major news outlets appear first, including from The Washington Post, the AP, The New York Times and CNN.

- Japan: online news is not enough

Major Internet portals in Japan such as Yahoo! Japan, Rakuten and Google Japan provide online news services. Among the three, Yahoo! Japan (www.yahoo.co.jp) is the only one offering a separate news service on its homepage. Most of the posted articles are breaking news and are categorized as domestic affairs, international and economics.

The dailies Sankei Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun and Jiji News Agency provide most news content. But in the sports section, articles from sports magazines are also featured and for the international section, articles from foreign news agencies such as Reuters and magazines are added. Interestingly, media outlets do not provide features and editorials. Most often, only a small portion of each news outlet’s articles is provided.

A Japanese portal’s editorial judgment comes into play only after it selects the main story for each section. The most newsworthy article is put at the top and is frequently renewed.

Yahoo! Japan ranks each article based on the number of readers over six hours.

News content does not play a significant role on Japanese Internet portal sites. Japanese media experts say the only means of accessing proper and in-depth news content in Japan is paper newspapers. Many Japanese dailies provide feature articles and editorials exclusively in their paper editions, while posting only breaking news on their Web sites.

- France: the role of active news readers

In France, Web portals rely heavily on news agencies for content. Voila and Orange provide articles from news agencies, but the overwhelming number of stories come from the wire service AFP.

Voila and Orange have their own editorial staff and evaluate the newsworthiness of news sources. French netizens, however, who have a strong interest in news, often directly go to news agencies’ sites to check news. Rue89, which exclusively displays news, and Dailymotion, the French version of YouTube, are also popular as news sources in France.