November 28, 2006

Centcom.mil and Google News: Open Letter to Google News Official and Google Public Relations

Filed under: Business Moves,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 11:57 am

The following was just sent to the e-mail address provided at the site for Google’s company blog, with a copy to Google’s Public Relations Department:

SUBJECT: Inclusion of the US Military’s Central Command as a Google News site

Dear Gblog and Public Relations:

This inquiry would appear to be properly routed to Nathan Stoll, who is identified as Google News Product Manager at a recent Google Blog entry. It is also being sent to Google’s Public Relations Department at the suggestion of the person I spoke with at company headquarters yesterday.

First, I am seeking a response as to why, of all the news that comes out of Centcom.mil, only this single site’s news is appearing at Google News:

http://www.hoa.centcom.mil/

At least the following news sources from centcom.mil are NOT appearing on Google News (I did several “inclusion” searches on URL variations at Google News yesterday to confirm this):

http://www.centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom1/Shared%20Documents/Photos.aspx

(Photos)

http://www.centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom1/Shared%20Documents/Sub%20Pages/Video.aspx

(video)

http://www.centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom1/Audio/Forms/AllItems.aspx

(audio)

http://www.centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom1/CoalitionPages/Coalition%20Main%20Page.aspx

(Coalition in Iraq and Afghanistan)

http://www.cfc-a.centcom.mil/

(Afghanistan)

http://www.mnf-iraq.com/

(Iraq)

http://www.centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom1/Shared%20Documents/newsroom.aspx

(Newsroom)

http://www.centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom1/Lists/Press%20Releases/Current%20Releases.aspx

(Press Releases)

Only the Press Releases appear to have any visibility in Google of the URLs listed above — and the press releases are (inexplicably to me) found in Google’s Blog Search:
Search–
blogurl:centcom.mil

Actual search URL: HERE

Even those results are currently four days behind what Centcom has at its press releases page (you have to go the second page of Centcom’s results to find entries that match Google’s blog search’s most recent listings):

http://www.centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom1/Lists/Press%20Releases/Current%20Releases.aspx

I also would like to understand not only why Google has ignored most news from Centcom, but also why it has relegated Centcom press releases to blog level, while including sites that are truly blogs like Huffington Post and Red State in Google News itself.

To the extent that Centcom personnel have failed to apply for Google News Source status, Centcom’s lack of presence is somewhat understandable (though I doubt that all of your “legitimate” news sources formally applied for inclusion). Any shortcomings relating to applying for approval are being remedied. I have recommended most of the above sites for Google News inclusion, and I expect that officials from Centcom will formally apply for inclusion of every site they believe to be newsworthy.

Response Expected

I am formally requesting an official explanation of why things are the way they are with Google News and the various Centcom news sources, and what actions, if any, the company plans to take to ensure that other valid US military news sources besides Centcom are considered and screened for inclusion in Google News. I look forward to your reply in this matter. I would be particularly interested in knowing whether Centcom at some point actually did apply for Google News approval and was turned down. I am in contact with officials at Centcom, and will certainly compare their answers to yours.

The contents of this e-mail are being posted to BizzyBlog.com in expectation of your response. Your non-response, if that is what you choose, will, of course, be duly noted.

Regards,
Tom Blumer
BizzyBlog.com

I will report back on response, or lack thereof, within a few days.

_____________________________

UPDATE, 3PM ET: I did receive an e-mail from a Dan Pastor at Google at about 2:45 this afternoon. He said that “I’ve sent it to the appropriate person at Google News, and they should be in touch with you shortly.”

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5 Comments

  1. Is centcom a news site? Following your logic, shouldn’t the press releases for Goldman Sachs, Boeing, P&G, or GSK be displayed in Google News? There is a difference between objective/subjective journalistic web sites and press releases.

    Comment by Kevin — November 28, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

  2. Nicely done, Tom. Hopefully this kind of pressure will help remedy the horribly lopsided situation favoring our enemies in the information war.

    Comment by The Puddle Pirate — November 28, 2006 @ 12:54 pm

  3. #1, Guess what, Kevin? PR Newswire is a Google-approved news site. So the answer is that the press releases of the companies you just mentioned, plus those of just about any clown who has a PR firm, are getting into Google News already. Type in *PR Newswire Goldman Sachs* without quotes.

    Setting aside for the moment whether you think the military should be allowed to tell their side of the story unfiltered (why not?), and whether they’re capable of giving a better reading of what is going on than stringers with ties to the enemy and people posing as cops and soldiers who aren’t (you’re kidding, right?) — don’t you think they deserve at least as much consideration as a private company’s unadulterated hype?

    Comment by TBlumer — November 28, 2006 @ 2:55 pm

  4. Ok sounds good. Does centcom feed it’s press releases to PR newswire?

    Comment by Kevin — November 29, 2006 @ 7:32 am

  5. #4, If they need to do that to get around Google News’s rules, maybe they should. They shouldn’t have to. I have been told as updated above that a response from Google should be coming.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 29, 2006 @ 8:22 am

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