According to an article on PR Daily, Google is now allowing company news releases to rise amongst the search listings on Google News. Before this unsettling change, the results were exclusively for hard news from certain curated news outlets.
I’ll be completely honest and say I hadn’t used this Google product before reading this news, but I will assert that this isn’t exactly positive. I always to my best to now let my PR aspirations color my view of things. So long as humans gathering the news and not sentient drones, news will always be subject to at least a bit of spin. It’s the human condition. However, journalism is still held up to a standard of objectivity by the industry and consumers of news, even if this standard is eroding.
At the same time, news releases are ideally supposed to be free of self-aggrandizing promotion, though this goal also seems to be forgotten. Since news releases are put out either by the company the release is about or the firm they’ve hired to write their stuff, these cannot be trusted to be as objective as something put out by a journalist. There’s nothing wrong with news releases and they serve a legitimate purpose.
Google should either nip this practice in the bud or label these “stories” appropriately. The legitimacy of content on the internet is already difficult for the average layperson to figure out at times, and this only makes things more confusing.