Planet13 - 7:54 pm on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)
"Are they now to stop this in fear of Google throwing the baby out with the bathwater for organisations like these?"
No, but it would certainly be a good idea to nofollow any backlinks in the press releases.
Since they are doing the press releases for the "right" reasons (publicity instead of page rank manipulation) I am sure they won't mind that the backlinks are nofollowed.
"It does make me weep that one search engine can influence the activities of organisations so fundamentally who may both want to publish news and have the audacity to hope that their website may be found in searches relevant to their business activities..."
As someone who remember what search engine traffic was like BEFORE google became the dominant player in search, might I remind those who weren't around that it was, to put it mildly, CRAP!
Yes, webmasters do things to please google.
But it was a lot harder when webmasters had to try and please google AND yahoo AND msn AND inktomi AND Lycos, etc.,