Google News to host newswire content instead of linking to it

Google News has unveiled a deal with some of the world's leading news agencies to host their content on its own site as a part of its own service. The move is expected to reduce traffic to sites that reproduce news wire content.

News wire services the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, UK Press Association and the Canadian Press have all agreed to allow Google to host their news stories as part of the Google News site. Financial terms were not disclosed.

In the same revamp, Google News is also prioritising the news report which broke a story rather than those of news outlets which followed up or reproduced it. This new part of Google News is called 'duplicate deletion'.

Stories from the news agencies mentioned have featured on Google News, but not directly. They appeared as credited stories published by newspapers, and Google News drove traffic to the newspaper websites, because the agencies did not publish directly.

"Because the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, UK Press Association and the Canadian Press don't have a consumer website where they publish their content, they have not been able to benefit from the traffic that Google News drives to other publishers," said Google News business product manager Josh Cohen in a Google blog posting. "As a result, we’re hosting it on Google News."

Several news agencies have threatened legal action against Google in the past over its use of their material, but both Agence France-Presse (AFP) and AP had signed deals with the company ending the lawsuits. It has not been known until now how Google News would use their content.

Google News's other announcement was that it would end the duplication of identical stories and credit a story to its original source organisation. The move is likely to impact on the traffic to websites that publish news agency stories.

"Instead of 20 'different' articles (which actually used the exact same content), we'll show the definitive original copy and give credit to the original journalist," said Cohen, explaining the 'duplicate detection' feature.

"Our goal has always been to offer users as many different perspectives on a story from as many different sources as possible, which is why we include thousands of sources from around the world in Google News," he wrote. "However, if many of those stories are actually the exact same article, it can end up burying those different perspectives. Google News will direct readers to the original version of a story."

Google News has run into controversy, especially in Europe, over its use of headlines and snippets of news content on the site. AFP and Belgian association Copiepresse both took cases against Google, and Google News stopped hosting content produced by Copiepresse members.

Last month Google announced a new and unusual user comments feature for Google News. It will only display comments emailed by participants in the story, including people or organisations mentioned and the writer.

The announcement was made in Google's official Google News Blog. It explained: "Our long-term vision is that any participant will be able to send in their comments, and we'll show them next to the articles about the story. Comments will be published in full, without any edits, but marked as 'comments' so readers know it's the individual's perspective, rather than part of a journalist's report."