Last Monday (Nov. 27), I raised the issue of why all but one relatively minor web site of Centcom.mil was being excluded from Google News, and entirely excluded from Yahoo! News. I asked for technical help explaining and confirming what I believed I had found.
Tuesday, Brain Shavings came to the rescue and filled in a lot of technical holes that on balance confirmed what I had reported. He also noted that Centcom press releases were given Blog and not News status by Google. Spc. Patrick Ziegler of Centcom commented at Brain Shavings’ post that he would report the issues “to the powers that be.”
In response to Brain Shavings, my post concentrated its fire on Google because of the blog treatment of press releases.
Late Tuesday morning, I sent an Open Letter through Google’s Corporate blog to a Google News Product Manager who had posted an entry there, and copied Google’s Public Relations Department.
Within three hours, I got an e-mail response from Daniel Pastor at Google, who wrote, “I’ve sent it to the approrpiate (sic) person at Google News, and they should be in touch with you shortly.”
Nothing happened. I phoned Mr. Pastor Thursday afternoon, and he said that he would look into the situation.
It is now just over six days later — an eternity in Internet time. The fact that you’re seeing this post indicates that I have yet to hear back from anyone at Google News, but you can rest assured that I am not about to let up on this. As the Open Letter indicates, I want to know how Centcom’s near-total exclusion occurred, whether the exclusion was due to inaction by Centcom or the result of actual rejection(s) by Google, and what has been and will be done to remedy the situation.
Some important context — Commenter Kevin at the “open letter” post was under the mistaken impression, as I suspect others are, that press releases from companies and others don’t make Google News, and that military releases perhaps ought be considered to be on an equivalent level. First, the fact is that press releases DO make Google News (even the most fawning and mindless ones from PR Newswire, as an example). Second, in light of the by-now irrefutable fact that the media in Iraq are failing to accurately report what is happening there, to the point of making stuff up, and using bogus and anonymous sources in the process, the military should at the very least have equal access to the same outlets the press is using to spread its “news.” Frankly, anything short of equal access is an insult.
(By the way, I haven’t forgotten about Yahoo!, but I’m hoping that Centcom will get that one going with Brain Shavings’ suggestions.)
UPDATE: Brain Shavings reports unimpressive follow-through at Centcom, and great displeasure at having to do so.