House of Lords speak out on the future of news

So the House of Lords has spoken out on the future of online news.

Aside from pointing out the obvious (the pursuit of advertising revenue in the MSM has led toward over-reliance on syndicated news and PR), the Lords communications committee has strongly suggested no letup on current ownership laws, and in fact has suggested OFCOM be equiped with stronger powers of scrutiny.

That’s fantastic news for anyone concerned by the likes of Murdoch attaining even more power over our public discourse than they have already.

But I was struck by a finding near the bottom of this coverage in the context of what I blogged on Friday.

The committee also calls on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to look at ways of getting online news aggregators such as Google News to invest in news gathering.

That would be all well and good if Google News were like any other large media company (i.e. focused on providing good quality, balanced news), but they’re not:

Google executives defend the news site, saying traffic is not a paramount goal. Google News, they say, helps the company produce better search results and helps users find news sources that they might not know about otherwise.

If Google News can’t even be bothered to develop an algorithm to provide UK readers with geo-located, localised news then what are the chances they’ll bend to a request to invest in professional journalists and editors?


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