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Google News reportedly has removed IndyMedia.org due to pressure
May 19, 2003 6:58 PM   Subscribe

Google News has reportedly confirmed they have removed Indymedia from their list of news sources. Why you ask? Apparently Google bowed to pressure brought upon them by an email campaign organized by people who disagree with some of what gets posted under IndyMedia's policy of allowing anyone to post to the newswire, and not exerting editorial control. People are claiming IndyMedia is "anti-semitic", because of trolls who sometimes post hateful posts on the unedited, user-supplied newswire. Check out the thread on Little Green Footballs or Silent Running or this one at Yourish.com. Inexplicably, Yourish points to this mailing list posting as proof of IndyMedia's "anti-semitism". If you go to Google news and search for indymedia sorted by date, nothing after May 16th comes up. Now in their effort to remove truly anti-semitic material from Google News, they've removed all the legitimate stories of IndyMedia from Google News as well.
posted by Babylonian (54 comments total)

 
My publication has had some content reproduced on Indymedia without permission. We were polite in asking them to remove it (which we wanted them to do since a lot of our traffic comes through Google hits), and they were polite and prompt in accepting. Nevertheless, that open policy is yet another reason why Google might distances itself from IM -- they might be party to copyright violation.
posted by blueshammer at 7:03 PM on May 19, 2003


Before one can discuss issues like this, definitions need to be agreed upon. A question that needs to be asked is What is Antisemitism?
posted by Babylonian at 7:16 PM on May 19, 2003


Indymedia is an open news forum, there is little to no editing. It's not appropriate for Google. Maybe when Google integrates its 'blogs' tab, it can also include sources like indymedia, and other unedited content pages. Or, Indymedia can present an edited version which includes only the 'good' posts from people who can both spell and reason.
posted by chaz at 7:19 PM on May 19, 2003


It seems to me that if Indymedia was reliable, it'd be in Google's interest to include it. If not, not. Google's actions look pretty rational to me.
posted by NortonDC at 7:21 PM on May 19, 2003


I've also had a post to my weblog reproduced there in its entirety, without permission, and I don't even use a creative commons license, for goodness sakes.

More to the point, I'm almost tempted to go make some anti-semitic remarks* ('Darn them semites!') just to try and get google to stop indexing me and sending hordes of random googlenauts to my site in search of 'bottle fucking' or 'ass stretch' or other similar excellent hobbies.

*OK, not really. I try to dislike everyone equally.

Even more to the point, [this is bad], even though Indymedia is trash for the most part. Google the company seems to be growing more rudderless and random in their policies of late. Not unrelated to this perhaps, and the tenor of the times. It is true, though, as I notice chaz says on preview, that Indymedia unedited doesn't seem appropriate for Google News, but that does open up an interesting question of where the line should be drawn for what is.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:24 PM on May 19, 2003


Babylonian: Now in their effort to remove truly anti-semitic material from Google News, they've removed all the legitimate stories of IndyMedia from Google News as well.

What legitimate stories? You say they allow (literally) anyone to post, and exert no editorial control whatsoever. I can't imagine I'm alone in assuming that Google News was providing links to actual news sites.
posted by JollyWanker at 7:27 PM on May 19, 2003


The prime question here is "What is News?"

During the SF shutdown and antiwar protests, sf.indymedia was my best source of up-to-the minute, down-to-the-intersection information on what was happening.

My own participation pretty much began and ended with the information I was able to follow there. Other news sources in the city did little but buzz the whole scene with their damn camera copters.

So: timely, pertinent information that supports meaningful public participation in society - how's that for a definition of news?
posted by scarabic at 7:29 PM on May 19, 2003


btw - if you think an editor needs to touch the news like a priest needs to bless the wine, you also think blogs are bullshit. What makes an editor an editor, anyway? I think that's about the best place to start figuring out what news is.

Sadly, many if not most of those we call "editors" will tell you that news is factual reporting of whatever people will pay to hear about.
posted by scarabic at 7:32 PM on May 19, 2003


This doesn't seem like a bad decision to me. Google News' whole shtick is that it is not human edited, instead pointing to the articles of the moment from around the globe. It's kind of important that the things going into google news are edited by someone.

Yeah, that means that the legitimate stories are pulled too. It's a shame that Indymedia hasn't figured out a way to remove their biggest trolls. Indymedia was a great idea but they let the extremists in their midst set their tone and will likely never recover if they keep letting them go on.
posted by mathowie at 7:36 PM on May 19, 2003


Indymedia is an open news forum, there is little to no editing. It's not appropriate for Google. Maybe when Google integrates its 'blogs' tab, it can also include sources like indymedia

OK. And Fox counts as news because they have people who where little name tags that say "Editor" on them?
posted by alms at 7:39 PM on May 19, 2003


Now in their effort to remove truly anti-semitic material from Google News, they've removed all the legitimate stories of IndyMedia from Google News as well.

Okey Dokey, so why not cut out the middleman and go straight here instead?
posted by spirit72 at 7:46 PM on May 19, 2003


And Fox counts as news because they have people who where little name tags that say "Editor" on them?

no. fox is 'newstainment'. new stainment.
posted by quonsar at 7:53 PM on May 19, 2003


There's a disparity between what Indymedia wants to be, and what it is in reality - it's a wonderful concept to allow anyone to publish their own news (the Korean example probably does it the best), but in reality Indymedia is little different from a collaborative weblog. Sometimes it's a news source. Most of the time it's a place for people to announce some direct action they're planning, or to comment on issues. People expect some kind of editorial control over news - while we might highlight the bias of various news sources (say, Fox or BBC, depending on which side of the tracks you live on), we do like to think that total, outright lies won't get through in our "news". Maybe if sites like Indymedia had an "edited" channel, where stories that look well written and legitimate could "hit the headlines" and be included in Google.
posted by Jimbob at 7:55 PM on May 19, 2003


BTW...Little Green Footballs aren't just pissed that they aren't included as a legitimate news source for exactly the same reasons...are they?
posted by Jimbob at 7:57 PM on May 19, 2003


scarabic: btw - if you think an editor needs to touch the news like a priest needs to bless the wine, you also think blogs are bullshit. What makes an editor an editor, anyway?

Blogs are bullshit, at least 99 and 44/100ths percent of them anyway if your point is that we should now be affording the same level of credibility to every LiveJournalist that feels like publishing that we give to an API reporter. In fact, it's because they are unedited and hold themselves to no journalistic standard whatsoever that lack any credibility. If you think all an editor does is wave their hands and mumble the ritual words, you don't have a clue what a real editor actually does.

If we were talking "Google Blogs," your point might be valid. We're not. We're talking about Google News and whether we should have the reasonable assumption that links from Google News would resolve to actual news sites.
posted by JollyWanker at 8:22 PM on May 19, 2003


God bless those principled dumbasses at Indymedia, or at least at the North American Indymedias. They often have good writing, or even bad writing that offers you good information or perspective in trade for the agony. But as in the Swedish film released here as Together in 2001, there are ways of reaching consensus or designing the community to filter out such "trolls" without concentrating all power in the blue pencil of the rich old white man with the green eyeshade and the cigar.

Even the Benedictine order, one of the great anarcho-syndicalist communes of all time if it weren't for that celibacy bit, has a provision in its famous Rule for delegating a couple of "stout monks" to escort abusers of Christain hospitality to the monastery gates.

A lot of the really stupid stuff I have seen on the various Indies (and in fact some of the non-English Indies do seem to manage a consensus on standards of decorum, judging from the results) I just chalk up to juvenile enthusiasm. Hell, I was really stuck on Ayn Rand at 14 and Lenin at 15, before settling on Johnny Rotten and Charlie Parker for a while. Rage Against The Machine I didn't have to cope with.

But what kind of community is it in which the experienced can't manage to mentor the less experienced of members about the consequences of equating freedom of expression with offending people?

Not that offending those who do really offensive things is always a bad idea. Imputing the root of their offenses to a background they share with innocent bystanders is definitely out of bounds, though.

But whatever the conduct in question was, what the hell is Google doing imposing a social conscience on the Indies? It's not like it's the Federal government using the power of the purse to ensure compliance with, say, the Civil Rights Act. If an Indy starts to suck, which racial baiting does, then nobody reads it, right? That's the marketplace of ideas?

Google is behaving like a television broadcaster parsing election law in deciding whether it's in compliance or not, but the fact is that it is not a public institution, even though it serves a public function worldwide. Which is a goddamn shame. No, it's acting more like a property owner painting out grafitti art for fear that property values (advertising revenues) will decline.
posted by hairyeyeball at 8:25 PM on May 19, 2003


Hey, I like that analogy! Maybe the rumored Google blog tab is the designated graffiti wall?
posted by hairyeyeball at 8:28 PM on May 19, 2003


JollyWanker wrote: We're talking about Google News and whether we should have the reasonable assumption that links from Google News would resolve to actual news sites.

well that's one issue of many, but I think the original complaint wasn't about IndyMedia not being a news site. It was political objections to some material that had been posted by anonymous people on one or more of the dozens of IndyMedia sites.

So if some people read an Op/Ed column tomorrow, in the NY Times, that they decide is anti-semitic and they complain - or if another group of people reads an Op/Ed in the Washington Post that they think is "Anti-American" and doesn't support the troops enough - is it OK for Google to censor those sources too?

Google's "About Google News" page says:

Google News is highly unusual in that it offers a news service compiled solely by computer algorithms without human intervention. While the sources of the news vary in perspective and editorial approach, their selection for inclusion is done without regard to political viewpoint or ideology. While this may lead to some occasionally unusual and contradictory groupings, it is exactly this variety that makes Google News a valuable source of information on the important issues of the day.

Are they living up to this description?
posted by Babylonian at 8:56 PM on May 19, 2003


Google's "About Google News" page says:

I have to agree with Babylonian here. As long as Newsmax is still considered a "reliable" source of information...then taking IndyMedia out smacks of corporate censorship.
posted by dejah420 at 9:07 PM on May 19, 2003


JollyWanker - your point is well-taken. If I'm claiming that blogs have anything Newsworthy to offer, I'm doing it prematurely, and with a vaguely qualified definition of what a blog is. No, the livejournal of 12-year-old camwhore #21498 was not what I meant.

I do believe we're getting to a point where the objectivity of the editorial media has lost credibility, regardless of the fact that grassroots sources make no claim to it. And since editorial sources can't always compete with grassroots sources for coverage, or ananlysis, that authority is really all they have.

If editors keep playing to the zeitgesist, as in "Hey everybody's doing stories on SARS this week, let's do one too," they deserve to lose that authority.

Perhaps, as you suggest, a new media category is required for sources that make no claim to any journalistic standard, aka: a Google Blogs tab. If that's where they put Indymedia, so be it. I hope that it can be integrated with News, perhaps with careful messaging as well as filtering options. Blogs may not be journalism, but I'm not convinced that they're not news.
posted by scarabic at 9:19 PM on May 19, 2003


I don't think that IndyMedia really is any more of a news site than the common messege board.

LGF, on the other hand, shouldn't feel any jealousy at not being a news sort for Google News, because it's a blog. They post links to other stories. It's not called news if it's short and has a link to the story, it's called a post. That'd be like Google News putting up Metafilter stuff.

IndyMedia is not a moderated news source, one of you can go to any of their sites and post a story right now. News sources, even the alternative ones, will have some sort of guidelines to posting.

Google News can keep posting stuff from like Dar al-Hayat or Khalihafa, since they run news (no matter how you feel about it). Google runs Fox News because Fox is miles ahead of IndyMedia in journalistic standards. (Unless you really really disagree with Fox, then they're bad, eh?)

IndyMedia is a "news" BBS for 2003
posted by RobbieFal at 9:29 PM on May 19, 2003


'As long as Newsmax is still considered a "reliable" source of information...then taking IndyMedia out smacks of corporate censorship'

Just because Newsmax (which was once listed as NEWS SATIRE by Google, yes.. I have a screenshot to back that up) is listed doesn't make it reliable.

It's not Google's job to tell you what is reliable or not. You can search and read off of a Chicago newspaper or a Chicago TV station. It's you're own choice to determine what is reliable.

IndyMedia, no matter how innocent it might be.. isn't really considered to be a news source.
posted by RobbieFal at 9:33 PM on May 19, 2003


I like how this exposes Google's hypocrisy in crowing about how the site is put together without actual editors. Well, when there really aren't actual editors involved, they don't want any part of it!

Still, it is only fair - there is a quantum difference between a board where everybody can post stories without any editing, and a "News Source." Hell, even Fox, who we all know is as Fair and Balanced as a stone-drunk peglegged washerwoman, is still an actual news source. They know how to play the game, and just how far they can go in screwing with the truth.

And it's not unrelated to the anti-semitic thing, Babylonian. If I went onto Indymedia and posted a "story" about you being an embezzler or a child molester, who's gonna check it out? Who's gonna say "no, this cannot go?" And if they don't, what happens once Google News picks it up? Not only do you sue my ass, you sue Google News as well.

I'd love to hear Rusty's take on this, as some of the stuff he's said has got me leaning toward the we-don't-need-no-steenkin-editors camp, but not quite this far...
posted by soyjoy at 9:53 PM on May 19, 2003


People, here's the thing:

Okay, sure, IndyMedia isn't a true news source -- it probably doesn't deserve any more of a role on Google News than Little Green Footballs. BUT:

Google News continues to host ChronWatch, among other nutty non-news services. ChronWatch, from all appearances, is three or four angry bloggers who hate the San Francisco Chronicle and think it's funny that Rachel Corrie got run over.

I wrote them a couple times to ask them why they'd host ChronWatch if they don't host blogs, generally speaking, on this ostensibly news-oriented service. They said they'd remove it, actually -- and they haven't. This was a while back.

Interesting that this discussion should be taking place as Google is considering moving blogs out of its main search area, don't you think?

In any case, Google News's index is funky, and IndyMedia is hardly the only oddball choice included that isn't a real news service. There's one called GOPTx or something like that -- last tiime I checked, the headline was something like "WHHHHHHHHHEEEEE-HAAAA! We scared Hollywood into canning Danny Glover!"

Left, Right, these sites probably shouldn't be on there -- WorldNetDaily and Salon, yes. But ChronWatch...? Come on. And as long as ChronWatch.com remains on there, it's fundamentally unfair to remove IndyMedia.
posted by inksyndicate at 9:55 PM on May 19, 2003


ChronWatch seems to be all editorials and all that.

If Google has grounds to remove it and they said they would, then press them a bit more on that. It's one thing to do something, it's another thing to do nothing to solve a problem and complain when nothing is done about that problem.

But, this will spark a debate of 'What is a news site, what isn't?' and that'll get ugly. I figure that there has to be another liberal site out there that could be in the same boat as ChronWatch.

You ever seen this page?

or this one about the international papers?
posted by RobbieFal at 10:09 PM on May 19, 2003


Again, I think this discussion of "what is a news site and what isn't", while valuable, isn't the central question in this particular situation.

If you go to the LGF discussion thread listed in the original post, there are discussions of other media outlets for them to "target" and I don't think anyone can deny that they're "real" news sources

from LGF:
Being new to the forum, can I ask why the obsession with Indymedia?

I can think of a few more visible rabidly anti-Semitic outlets to target with such venom, like the BBC, Guardian, Independent, CBC, NPR and CNN (especially the International version.)


I don't think the question to the letter writers is whether these sources are reliable or not reliable, I think the issue is that people disagree with them politically and want them shut down so nobody else can read things they don't agree with... This leads us back to the whole concept of a free society and the "market place of ideas"


Speaking of The Independent, the comment this person posted reminds me of this essay by Robert Fisk from that same paper.
posted by Babylonian at 10:20 PM on May 19, 2003


I'd say the chances of LGF'ers removing CBC, Independent, Guardian, NPR, CNN and the BBC from Google News is very slim. In fact, I don't recall hearing anything about the site launching campaigns against these sources. Just a few posters making some delusional comments.
posted by RobbieFal at 10:47 PM on May 19, 2003


I'd say the chances of LGF'ers removing CBC, Independent, Guardian, NPR, CNN and the BBC from Google News is very slim.

That may be so, but that is tangential to the point I was making - which is that their beef with IndyMedia was not whether it was a "reliable" news source or not

It's that they don't agree with some content, and therefore want to affect people's ability to read it

What if tomorrow the people writing the letters were not LGF readers, but the Christian Coalition ? And what if they wanted the NY Times removed because it wasn't "pro-life enough"
posted by Babylonian at 11:01 PM on May 19, 2003


I can't say that I will miss Indymedia in the Google News listings as I rarely visit that site (Indymedia that is) ... perhaps once every few months and then only if there is something big going on in the grassroots movement that I want to get the other side of the story about (i.e. something other than what everyone else is saying).

I do know that the next time I click a link for what appears to be a legitimate news story on Google News and am once again led to what appears to be a 100% neo-conservative message board filled with hateful rants, I will now feel compelled to write Google and tell them that THIS source needs to be removed as well. I don't know what message board it is, but it is most definitely NOT a news source and is most definitely a message board, and the next time I end up there, I am bookmarking it and filing my complaint.
posted by Orb at 11:05 PM on May 19, 2003


...because editors are a fundamental component (Jayson Blair) of the check and balance system (Jayson Blair) that keeps reporters from just making things up (Jayson Blair). Right?

I really don't care whether Google News includes Indymedia or not. Remember how we all managed to survive when we only had Altavista? It is just Google, for fuck's sake, not your life support machine.

What I do find disturbing is the belief that an editor makes any difference. Editors are, for the most part, business people who make business decisions. I have serious doubts that the average editor has any more of a vested interest in publishing the truth than the average Indymedia poster. Jayson Blair was able to dupe his editors because he wrote good, saleable copy -- he was good business. The traditional media may not be ideologically blinded like the Indymedia zealots, but they regularly think with their wallets (which is just as limiting).
posted by monkey.pie.baker at 11:29 PM on May 19, 2003


Yeah, but do you think that if an Indymedia poster did what Jayson Blair did, it would even be noticed, much less apologized for? I mean, even when one of their posters allegedly killed someone, about the first thing they did was issue a bizarre anti-AP screed. Jayson Blair's transgressions mostly involved pretending to be reporting on-site while lifting quotes from other reporters and doing phone interviews, not making up stories out of whole cloth.

And while it's not the same as lifting quotes, Indymedia is notorious for reprinting without permission.
posted by transona5 at 12:05 AM on May 20, 2003


Inexplicably, Yourish points to this mailing list posting as proof of IndyMedia's "anti-semitism".

Before one can discuss issues like this, definitions need to be agreed upon. A question that needs to be asked is What is Antisemitism?

Um, not "inexplicably"—follow one more link. The point is that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which is antisemitism by anyone's definition (and I really feel certain that no one here considers it "news"), is an "article" on IndyMedia! Until IndyMedia decides to segregate flotsam like this from reporting (even deluded blogger reporting), Google is quite justified in not leaving the tap running for such "articles" to show up in news searches.

Orb: If Google News is really linking message boards rather than news stories, I am sure they would welcome the opportunity to improve their service by excluding those results as possible.

Jeesh, y'all think Google's part of the vast right-wing conspiracy!
posted by Zurishaddai at 12:21 AM on May 20, 2003


The main problem that lead to this was posters on IndyMedia retitling articles. If an article (usually stolen from another source, yet another reason why they were taken off) was entitled "Israeli troops kill 3 Paletinians in clash" the title on IndyMedia is usually changed to "ZIONAZIS CONTINUE MURDER SPREE" or such like. It's bad enough ripping off articles, but then retitling them, so that the changed headline winds up on Google News, is overstepping the line IMO.
posted by PenDevil at 1:44 AM on May 20, 2003


Regarding one element in this whole discussion.

Babylonian, would you say you have a bias towards IndyMedia since articles from your site have been posted all over it?

How many of the hits to your site came from IndyMedia articles? Are you mainly concerned that if Google doesn't link IMC, then people can't just find your site (which I think is already in Google on it's own)

I still feel your paranoid fear that it could have been the Christian Coalition that got rid of IMC from Google and they'll go after the New York Times next is out there. Knowing the spirit of your website, it's probably the Zionists out to get you for that picture you post of the Rabbis against Zionism.

Anyways..
posted by RobbieFal at 4:55 AM on May 20, 2003


I see no reason to remove it and even less to read it.
posted by Postroad at 4:56 AM on May 20, 2003


remember, news = stories. kind of fitting that google dropped IndyMedia. kind of separates IM from the rest. interesting. all the talk of crap posted there is true, but the main difference as pointed out is that there is no site editor, that job is yours. you are the editor, edit the crap out. it isn't that hard, usually the title gives it away. Plus you learn what bigotry, racism and overall hatred looks like in all forms, from well articulated to nonsensical drivel. Formulate your own opinions. If you don't like it don't read it. So that is what google news is doing, they are editing. It is their choice. And it is your choice what you read and believe.

By the way, do they have a black-list posted anywhere? I would like to see that list, wouldn't you?
posted by proof_nc at 6:23 AM on May 20, 2003


RobbieFal wrote:
Babylonian, would you say you have a bias towards IndyMedia since articles from your site have been posted all over it?

I like the IndyMedia concept but I don't think that means I'm biased towards them..

How many of the hits to your site came from IndyMedia articles?

maximum 10 a day, if even that, if I bother to post anything, which is very sporadic.. basically nothing

Are you mainly concerned that if Google doesn't link IMC, then people can't just find your site (which I think is already in Google on it's own)

Not at all. As far as I know, I never once got a hit through Google News. It has nothing to do with my site and everything to do with the principle, that Google says they don't censor based on political leaning and all of a sudden they quietly and without public announcement do censor.

I still feel your paranoid fear that it could have been the Christian Coalition that got rid of IMC from Google and they'll go after the New York Times next is out there.

Haha yeah right. Nice try :)

I never said I "fear" the Christian Coalition was behind this and they might go after the NY Times next, I used that imaginary scenario to illustrate a point. And I think you understood that when you read:

"What if tomorrow the people writing the letters were not LGF readers, but the Christian Coalition ? And what if they wanted the NY Times removed because it wasn't "pro-life enough" "

The article I posted that you linked to would be one of the articles I consider to be "legitimate" - It's from the Christian Science Monitor, a totally legitimate source, it doesn't insult anyone, and it's informative, and people post things like that on the news wire all the time.

I get the sense you're biting your tongue to prevent yourself from letting the words "tinfoil hat" spring forth, but I really don't think it's a conspiracy theory to imagine that there are all kinds of groups that find all kinds of things on Google News "offensive"

My point is that if Google is going to cater to one group of censors then why not another, and where does it stop?

Knowing the spirit of your website, it's probably the Zionists out to get you for that picture you post of the Rabbis against Zionism.

that's just silly.. again I'm not making up some conspiracy theory here, nobody's out to get me, and this doesn't directly affect me or my site. I just find Google's actions incongruous with their own statement of purpose:

"Google News is highly unusual in that it offers a news service compiled solely by computer algorithms without human intervention. While the sources of the news vary in perspective and editorial approach, their selection for inclusion is done without regard to political viewpoint or ideology. "
posted by Babylonian at 7:05 AM on May 20, 2003


So, Google News won't put out Indymedia's content, but it will put out corporate press releases as "news."

Looks like Google News is turning out to be Google's first major f*** up.
posted by Blue Stone at 7:21 AM on May 20, 2003


So, Google News won't put out Indymedia's content, but it will put out corporate press releases as "news."

I think the keyword there is content, something IndyMedia's newswire seldom has that isn't copy-and-paste'd from some other source and then re-titled. And most of the original content on IndyMedia tends to be opinion pieces anyway.
posted by PenDevil at 7:52 AM on May 20, 2003


I had written:
Inexplicably, Yourish points to this mailing list posting as proof of IndyMedia's "anti-semitism".

and Zurishaddai replied:
Um, not "inexplicably"—follow one more link. The point is that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which is antisemitism by anyone's definition (and I really feel certain that no one here considers it "news"), is an "article" on IndyMedia!

Yes, but the mailing list posting she referred to showed an IndyMedia volunteer concurring with the ADL that this posting is objectionable:

"Indeed, removing repugnant, anti-semitic posts from our site can often be a full-time job for IMC volunteers at many sites, including posts referring to the "learned elders of Zion." "

IndyMedia didn't post it, some random troll did. Yet IndyMedia is being blamed for the evil intentions behind the posting, even though this IndyMedia volunteer admits it's repugnant and promises to pass it on to the working group who monitors the newswire.

By an extension of this twisted logic, one could say the ACLU are racist because they have supported the KKK's right to freedom of speech and assembly.

So I stand by my description of this tactic as "inexplicable"
posted by Babylonian at 7:53 AM on May 20, 2003


Interesting that this discussion should be taking place as Google is considering moving blogs out of its main search area, don't you think?

And your source for this, other than rampant internet rumor? Good thing Google News isn't using MeFi as a source.

What I do find disturbing is the belief that an editor makes any difference. Editors are, for the most part, business people who make business decisions.

You are talking through your ass and clearly have no concept of what an editor is or does. (Full disclosure: I am an editor. FYI: I am not a business person.)

I wrote them a couple times to ask them why they'd host ChronWatch... They said they'd remove it, actually -- and they haven't.

Like RobbieFal said, press them a little more. Google's a big place, this may have gotten lost in the shuffle. Imperfect implementation doesn't mean evil conspiracy.

I don't frequent ChronWatch, but from the descriptions it does not sound like a news source in the strict sense. I thoroughly agree that the official media suppress leftist perspectives, but that doesn't mean I want to see a bunch of leftie (or any other) opinion sites (let alone, god forbid, blogs) cluttering up Google News. If they did, a lot of people wouldn't visit it, including me. So their decision makes perfect sense. (Especially if The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is an "article" on IndyMedia, as Zurishaddai says. Sheesh.)

Babylonian, you protest too much. The fact that "an IndyMedia volunteer" agreed that "this posting is objectionable" doesn't really cut the mustard. Can you imagine the NY Times, or any reputable news source, publishing the Protocols at all? There's a huge difference between Jayson Blair and this.
posted by languagehat at 8:26 AM on May 20, 2003


While the sources of the news vary in perspective and editorial approach, their selection for inclusion is done without regard to political viewpoint or ideology.

Are they living up to this description?
Yes, I would say they are. While the people who complained may have a political motive, they raise the legitimate, apolitical point that IndyMedia is not a news source, and it is on this basis--"without regard to political viewpoint or ideology"--that Google dropped IM.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:33 AM on May 20, 2003


What I do find disturbing is the belief that an editor makes any difference.

IndyMedia didn't post it, some random troll did.

See the difference yet? It's called accountability.

And I hadn't heard about the ChronWatch thing. If it's as described, it should also be removed - a lapse in one instance doesn't mean the whole notion of standards should be abandoned.
posted by soyjoy at 8:51 AM on May 20, 2003


hrm, the other day a lead story on google news was the 'state budget shortfall'. Except all the links talked about totaly random states. I thought that was funny.
posted by delmoi at 9:55 AM on May 20, 2003


scarabic: I do believe we're getting to a point where the objectivity of the editorial media has lost credibility, regardless of the fact that grassroots sources make no claim to it. And since editorial sources can't always compete with grassroots sources for coverage, or ananlysis, that authority is really all they have.

On that we certainly agree. As beholden as the "official news outlets" are to lowest-common-denomitor pandering, you can always read or listen to their stuff well assured that there's significantly more to the story than what they are telling you. I personally rely on a spur of the moment compendium of sources any time I want to be sure I'm getting a balanced info input.

babylonian: So if some people read an Op/Ed column tomorrow, in the NY Times, that they decide is anti-semitic and they complain - or if another group of people reads an Op/Ed in the Washington Post that they think is "Anti-American" and doesn't support the troops enough - is it OK for Google to censor those sources too?

Well, since Google isn't a government agency, technically they're not censoring anything. That aside, the answer is still "No," because the journalistic standing of the New York Times and the Washington Post are unquestioned, whether you agree with their editorial stances or not. IndyMedia, quite clearly, cannot make the same claim.
posted by JollyWanker at 10:02 AM on May 20, 2003


JollyWanker wrote:
Well, since Google isn't a government agency, technically they're not censoring anything.

Well actually I see the point you're getting at but I think you're a bit off in your terminology-

I assume that what you meant to say was Google isn't violating the 1st ammendment rights of IndyMedia because Google is a private organization and they can choose to use whatever sources they like.

That is true.

However they did censor IndyMedia. Merriam Webster defines censor as:

" to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable"
posted by Babylonian at 11:07 AM on May 20, 2003


IndyMedia didn't post it, some random troll did. Yet IndyMedia is being blamed for the evil intentions behind the posting, even though this IndyMedia volunteer admits it's repugnant and promises to pass it on to the working group who monitors the newswire.

The "admission that it's repugnant" came a year ago (May 2002), but the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion is still online at the URL http://www.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=182773. To me, it is clear that IndyMedia is fundamentally opposed to any restriction on "random trolls" getting the "article" designator for their rantings, cut-n-paste jobs, etc. (Presumably, this would be "censorship.") I can respect that, but this is not "news" (even in a world of journalistic hacks and dissemination vehicles for standardized content). It's the equivalent of regarding MetaFilter posts as a newsfeed (except that here Matt would not scruple to remove the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion from his website).
posted by Zurishaddai at 11:53 AM on May 20, 2003


...and for a million other exceptions. I withdraw the MeFi comparison—what was I thinking!—since we have so many ways of vetting, balancing, and correcting here. Instead: it's the equivlanet of regarding your pal George's email list as a newsfeed.
posted by Zurishaddai at 12:15 PM on May 20, 2003


I've commented before on IndyMedia, and how I support the broader concept, but am disappointed in its execution. The fact that it's effectively (if not technically) unmoderated and prone to both unapologetic bias as well as frequent copyright violations make it seem quite reasonable that it not be included as a news source.

Speaking as someone who runs one site that is included in Google News, and works with two others, I agree: there are some odd choices in what's indexed. Heck, I'm still iffy on why PRNewsWire counts (both in GoogleNews and other sites like Yahoo!) as news.

On the other hand, some obscure sources turn out to be pretty interesting. Small town papers, horse breeding magazines...

I think they're pretty responsive (at least considering the amount of feedback they get) and receptive to ways Google News can be improved... they've tweaked how one of the sites I work with is indexed a couple of times now. If a Google News source is actually a news-free Chronwatch or free-for-all group blog, I'm sure they'd benefit from being told about it.

The distinction between "news site" and "blog" is fuzzy, absolutely, although I'm pretty sure the presence of an editor between writer and the web is a big part of it. I'm actually having a hard time thinking of another basic measure that might make sense.

I think a Google Blogs tab as a compliment to Google News would be great. "Here's (at least minimally) filtered material as news, and here's the teeming masses' take on it" - the equivalent of a global op-ed page.
posted by pzarquon at 1:07 PM on May 20, 2003


Did someone say censorship?
posted by turbodog at 3:30 PM on May 20, 2003


Petition to Stop Censoring IndyMedia from Google News
posted by Babylonian at 4:12 PM on May 20, 2003


IndyMedia is free to start their own news aggregator that includes them. For that matter, so are all the people who sign that ridiculous petition.

All you have to do is make it better than Google News and people will flock to it.
posted by kindall at 4:39 PM on May 20, 2003


Someone should create a petition to stop IndyMedia from censoring IndyMedia.
posted by turbodog at 7:12 PM on May 20, 2003


The Nation picks up on this story in its Outrage of The Day
posted by Babylonian at 9:08 AM on May 21, 2003


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