December 9, 2006

Weekend Question 2: What’s Up with Google News and Centcom.mil’s Access to It?

ANSWER: Nothing satisfactory, as far as the company is concerned. Google has responded, but generically, and poorly. Meanwhile, press releases that verge on being pure pap are routinely displayed in Google News results.

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Background: This post is the latest relating to attempts that began here to get to the bottom of why all but a very small portion of news items published at Centcom.mil and its affliated sites are NOT being found or displayed by the Google News search engine. More background is here, here, here, and here, but this post should stand on its own for those who are new to the issue.
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I received this e-mail from Google News early Thursday evening (link supplied by Google News was made clickable for this post):

Hi Tom,

Thank you for your note about Google News. We apologize for our delayed response. Dan passed your email on to our User Support team so we can assist you. Please be assured that Google News currently includes the news site you mention. You can find articles from this publication in our results at the following link:

HERE

Additionally, please be aware that Google News doesn’t currently include multimedia content, such as audio or video files. Google News offers a news service compiled solely by computer algorithms without human intervention. There aren’t human editors at Google selecting or grouping the headlines, and no individual decides which stories get top placement. While our news sources vary in perspective and editorial approach, their selection for inclusion is done without regard to political viewpoint or ideology.

While we aim to include as many sources as possible in Google News, we can’t guarantee the addition of all articles and sources that are submitted to us. We appreciate your taking the time to send us your suggestions for how we can improve this service.

If you’d like more information about Google News, please check out our Help Center at http://www.google.com/support/news/. Thanks again for taking the time to write.

Regards,
The Google Team

“The Google Team” totally missed and failed to respond to this very clear e-mail’s main points, which were:

  • That the ONLY Centcom news being picked up by Google news is the tiny fraction relating to the Horn of Africa, as shown here and confirmed last night:

GNsearchCentcomMil120906

GNsearchMNF120906

  • I suggested inclusion of these sources roughly 10 days ago, and they have, obviously, not been added. Why not?
  • That Centcom press releases are being treated as blog posts and not as news by Google. And even those results are about four days behind what Centcom has at its press releases page. Why?

I sent this response to Sonya Boralv in Google in Global Communcations & Public Affairs yesterday afternoon (about Noon PT). At the time, I was under the mistaken impression that she may have been aware of the above e-mail. At this point, I’m not certain, but she now has that e-mail’s contents regardless (some links were added for reader convenience):

Sonya,

The “forwarded” response ….. which I believe may have been passed through you and originally authored by someone at Google News, is incomplete, inadequate, and is technically in error.

I would be pleased to discuss those inaccuracies with you by phone (preferably) or e-mail (if you insist), or better yet, if you think it would be helpful, to speak directly with a named person in Google News.

Please be advised that GN is being perceived in a significant segment of the blogosphere, and by a small but growing percentage of the American public, as willfully preventing our military from getting its news out while at the same time allowing the fluffiest of PR releases (unrelated to the war) and those who support the enemy in Iraq (e.g., aljazeera.net) full Google News access. I’m not ready to say that this is the case, but I get closer with each passing day, and would appreciate anything you could validly do to persuade me that this is not true.

If I were forced to post based on what I have now, I would have to say that GN at a minimum hasn’t done the technical work required to substantively respond to my original e-mail (which is posted here at Bizzyblog.com), and seems disinterested in resolving the larger questions.

I look forward to speaking with or getting a reply from you. I have also left a VoiceMail message for Nathan Stoll, who is the News Product Manager according to a recent blogpost at Google’s corporate blog.

This e-mail will become an Open Letter post at BizzyBlog.com tomorrow unless I hear from someone by the end of the business day (CA Time). The phone number provided is my wireless number, which will not leave my side until late this evening.

Regards,
Tom Blumer
BizzyBlog.com

If you didn’t click on the “fluffiest of PR releases” above, here’s another chance — it’s important to understand the “oh-so-crucial news” that Google News is allowing to be included while it denies (actively, passively, or negligently — that is yet to be determined) almost all of Centcom to get equal treatment with the official news service of the enemy.

Or maybe my priorities aren’t straight, and the announcement of “Rihanna as Brand Ambassador for Chocolate by LG” really IS more important than the military’s side of the news out of Iraq and Afghanistan. (/sarcasm; if you somehow missed out on these all-important matters, Rihanna is a singer, and Chocolate is a phone.)

The problem is exacerbated by what has been learned in the past few months, as it has become obvious to anyone with eyes that the supposedly “objective” news agencies — shown to have used fauxtography (here’s an Iraq example) and fake sources — are, with full Google News (and Yahoo! News) search-engine access, assisting the enemy in promoting their propaganda line. The military’s responses, when they occur, do not have such access.

Alo at Brain Shavings is working the technical end of the situation with Centcom, which, to be very clear, deserves a lot of flak for not being more proactive in ensuring that they get the news-search visibility any fair-minded person would think they’re entitled to. Alo is reporting and has sent me copies of e-mails showing that some progress is being made addressing technical things that he has more knowledge of than I ever will.

We will, I believe, have something with definite conclusions and judgments to report early next week, regardless of whether I hear again from Google.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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Previous Posts:
- Dec. 5 — Google News-Centcom.mil Listing: Open Follow-up Letter
- Dec. 4 — Re Google News and Centcom Inclusion: This Post Is Unintentionally Unresolved
- Nov. 28 — Centcom.mil and Google News: Open Letter to Google News Official and Google Public Relations
- Nov. 28 — UPDATE — Centcom.mil, Google News, and Yahoo! News: Brain Shavings Explains It All (and I Almost Understand It)
- Nov. 27 — Why Is Almost All of Centcom.mil Not Being Picked Up by Google News? (Further Help Needed)

Weblog Awards Daily Post (120906)

Filed under: General,News from Other Sites — Tom @ 3:33 pm

Voting continues; it ends Dec. 15. Vote at the “Best Business Blog” ballot or click on the WLA graphic. You get to vote once every strictly-timed 24 clock hours. Vote(s!) for BizzyBlog would, of course, be greatly appreciated. If you’re new here and are in evaluation mode, see the biz/econ-related posts in the “Top 20″ near the top right on this page. Several gained wider distribution and comment.

My other award recommendations: (links are to respective ballots containing these blogs) Viking Spirit, Right Angle Blog, Pundit Review, Hot Air, Brussels Journal, Willisms, Sean Gleeson.

Weekend Question 1: What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 2)

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,TWUQs — Tom @ 12:01 pm

Last year, I sensed that journalists in general prefer to call this time of the year in commerce that of “holiday shopping” instead of “Christmas shopping,” but that when it came to people losing their jobs, they preferred to describe layoffs as relating to “Christmas.”

My instincts were proven correct, as you can see below from the results of three different sets of Google News searches in November and December (links to last year’s related posts are here, here, and here):

ChristmasSearch2005Results

I’ve decided to track the same items this year to see if there is any noticeable change or trend.

Here are the first two of the three sets of Google News searches during this Christmas season, compared to last year (the Dec. 9, 2006 searches were done shortly after midnight; the post on the Nov. 26, 2006 searches is here):

ChristmasSearchTerms1_06v05

Wal-Mart, Macy’s, and others may be embracing “Christmas” as a permissible word again, but reporting about shopping during the 2006 Christmas season is leaning more towards “holiday shopping” than at any of the other times I have looked at it. As to layoffs, though the number of instances where “Christmas” and “layoffs” were found increased, their percentage of the total layoff-related results went down significantly in the past two weeks. The tendency to associate Christmas with layoffs is still 2-1/2 times greater than the association with shopping, but that’s down from over three times as often a couple of weeks ago, and from a bit less than three times as often a year ago.

Still, what I concluded at the end of last year (with minor editing) is proving true again this year:

It seems beyond dispute that there is a strong bias against using the word “Christmas” to describe not only the shopping season, as noted above, but also events, parades, and festivals that happen during the Christmas season. There is, however, a bit of an exception — “Christmas” is a word that is much more acceptable to use when “Scrooge” employers are letting people go.

The third identical series of searches will be done on about December 22.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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Previous Posts:
Nov. 26, 2006 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 1)
Nov. 11, 2006 — Will Christmas Be a Four-Letter Word This Year?
Dec. 22, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year (UPDATE 2)
Dec. 7, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year (UPDATE)
Nov. 29, 2005 — What Time of Year Is It?
Nov. 23, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year

It’s ‘Time’ for a Write-in Campaign

“The Unofficial Iraqi Sources and Their Stringers” Should Be Time’s “Persons of the Year”

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I noted yesterday that Time’s Person of the Year nominees this year aren’t particularly inspiring:

http://www.bizzyblog.com/wp-images/TimePOY2006list

Now don’t get me wrong. A few are accomplished people (Bush, Rice, Gore), but you can’t fairly say that 2006 was a particularly special year for them. Most of the rest can be said to be potentially capable of great mischief (Chavez, Kim, Ahmadinejad), or even conceivably of great accomplishments (Pelosi), but what they did in 2006 was either not particularly noteworthy or only served to set them up for possible future “greatness.” The YouTubers? They managed to pull off a financial coup, but they haven’t taken their service to a truly special level like Jeff Bezos had with Amazon when he was named Person of the Year in the late 1990s.

So I’m sorry, but none of Time’s nominees had a good enough year to warrant that magazine’s prestigious award.

Ah, but these folks in Iraq, along with fellow traveler Jamil Hussein, as well as the mostly unnamed stringers for the world’s wire services who use them as “sources,” represent only a partial list from a cohort that collectively has had one heck of a year:

police Lt. Ali Abbas; police Capt. Mohammed Abdel-Ghani; police Brigadier Sarhat Abdul-Qadir; Mosul police Director Gen. Wathiq al-Hamdani; police Lt. Bilal Ali; Ali al-Obaidi, a medic at Ramadi Hospital; police Maj. Firas Gaiti; police Captain Mohammed Ismail; Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, the Interior Ministry spokesman (a.k.a. Police Brigadier Abd al-Karim Khalaf, Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, Brig. Abdel-Karim Khalaf); Mohammed Khayon, a Baghdad police lieutenant; police spokesman Mohammed Kheyoun (a.k.a. Police Lieutenant Mohammed Khayoun); Lt. Thaer Mahmoud, head of a police section responsible for releasing daily death tolls; police Lt. Bilal Ali Majid; police Lt. Ali Muhsin; police 1st Lt. Mutaz Salahhidine (a.k.a. Lieutenant Mutaz Salaheddin); Col. Abbas Mohammed Salman; and policeman Haider Satar.

What have these “sources” and stringers, with the gullible and/or active help of the “official” wire-service reporters, done? Here’s just a partial list of their remarkable accomplishments:

  • With their exaggerations and fabrications, they have managed to make what is in reality a difficult but improving situation in Iraq, where Iraqis Control 70% of the battle space, and where “Iraqi Security Forces are on track to take care of their own security and combat operations virtually free of Coalition support within the next year,” appear from the outside looking in to be a Vietnam-like quagmire.
  • They have managed, as in the case of the Ramadi air strikes that didn’t happen, to portray US soldiers as reckless and brutal killers and maimers of civilians.
  • Their exaggerations and fabrications have also served to further incite sectarian violence by Iraqis who believe their reports, and to boost the morale of terrorists not only in the country, but throughout the world.
  • They have encouraged Iraq’s two hostile neighbors to supply money and weapons to the insurgent terrorists in the belief that Iraq can be destabilized and remain that way until the US grows weary of the effort being expended there.
  • Their tireless efforts were arguably the most significant influence affecting the election results in the USA’s November elections that changed the party controlling the Senate and House of Representatives.
  • They set the atmospheric stage for the Timid Ten in the Iraq Study Group (ISG) to issue their report (PDF is at link), which in essence is a call for deferred cut-and-run lite, and for a large portion of the American people to believe that what the ISG recommends is the only viable, “face-saving” alternative.
  • They have managed, also through the Timid Ten, to make the Israel-Palestine-Lebanon situation, which objectively has absolutely nothing to do with stablizing Iraq and leaving a democratic government in place there, part of a supposed “comprehensive (non) solution.”

Seriously, now — Can ANY of Time’s eight nominees make claims even remotely as impressive as those? I don’t think so.

Time must be convinced that it has made a grievous oversight. “The Unofficial Iraqi Sources and Their Stringers” should obviously be their “Persons of the Year.”

Tell Time yourself before the magazine makes a big mistake.

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UPDATE: The Left, including its press acolytes, don’t seem to understand, as James Whetzel at American Thinker does, that failure in Iraq, and perhaps even just the intense opposition to it if it yet succeeds, makes getting involved with the causes they seem (at the moment, at least) to favor, like putting a stop to the horror in Darfur in The Sudan, that much more difficult.

UPDATE 2, Dec. 10: Doug Ross has the cover design ready.

Positivity: As Troy Smith Gets Ready to Receive His Heisman Trophy

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:58 am

It will be with his mom at his side, which doesn’t seem particularly remarkable, until you read this (HT Wizblog).

I won’t excerpt; read the whole thing, with kleenex on standby.