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Now I realize - that in many cases - companies/scientists/and whatever else - issue press releases that are pretty much read verbatim.
You might think even scientists have pure motives (only to inform), but look VERY carefully at this story picked up by almost everyone - on - conveniently - valentine's day:
lots of papers carried that photo
notice anything about it?
It was made by the scientist IN THE STUDY!
The obvious intent was to make it easy to prepackage the story for easy reprinting in papers everywhere.
I am not saying the study is bad - only very well timed - and the well marketed press release gives them greater citation rank as more people will find it on the web - quote their study and make it easier for them to get funding in the future.
Police, Scientists, even Religious leaders - use marketing to get get MONEY MONEY MONEY...
I don't know how much they care about money but two things are clear:
1) The Photo HAS NOTHING to do with the research - it was a cute photo made to get into papers.
2) They have a link for reporters at the top of the page.
They want press coverage and are DRIVING the press coverage - not the other way around.
Congrats once more Google.
Press releases can by news, and very good ones at that as they come straight from the horses mouth. However that is their weakness. There is no objective independent analysis of what it means. It's PR. As long as Press Releases are clearly marked as such and dont predimnate over the work of real news observers such as professional journalists, columnists, commentators, and yes, even bloggers, I dont see a major problem.
As long as Press Releases are clearly marked
That's a good point, and as far as I can tell, Google is indeed identifying which "news" stories are Press Releases and which ones are regular "news."
Press releases can be useful (notice that I wrote "can" and not "are"). Yesterday I did an seo related search which popped up a press release from a company offering a new product, a product I wouldn't have otherwise known about.
The links labeled as Yahoo News (no such news organization) come from press release newswires like PR Newswire and Business Wire.
Has anyone found press releases directly from a company or organizations web site?
Also, has anyone checked AltaVista News [news.altavista.com] or NewsNow [newsnow.co.uk] lately?
AV is much improved. NewsNow gets better by the day. NewsNow also has hundreds of subject specfic pages that auto refresh with new content every 5 minutes.
That being said, I also came out of a academic research environment and know that the press often picks up the most easily relatable portion of a story first and often leaves the actual cause out. This means that stories often read dirty water kills baby ducks, not coastal development increases levels of pollution in estuaries. In this case, I know the subject well enough to want to see what the source says first.
Going through Google News I can tell which one is a PR and which one is a news story as it is presented. The harder part is knowing off the stories presented as news, how much of their source is directly from a PR.
Realize though that manipulation of newspapers to push agendas is nothing new; "Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain". At least today you have the internet to compare multiple accounts of the news in which to draw your own conclusion.
when did a technology startup get the right (and cahones) to dictate what a news site should and shouldn't be?
"The company is planning to publish written guidelines for what IT CONSIDERS a news site to be."
Let's face it, it's impossible to spider news sources without making decisions about what sites to crawl and what sites not to. Google will probably make mistakes with this service over time, and may theoretically even do something malevolent someday, but in the meantime I don't see what the big deal is.