Do Google News Algorithms Lean Politically Right?

Looks like it’s Google News day here on E-Media Tidbits. (See earlier item.) J.D. Lasica, writing for Online Journalism Review, has noticed another quirk in the algorithm-driven news-aggregation service.

“I’ve observed over the past month that clicking on a ‘John Kerry‘ link on Google News brought up a page with mostly right-of-center websites trashing Kerry,” he says. “By contrast, a search on George Bush or George W. Bush typically results in a fairly neutral, evenly balanced set of results from both sides of the political spectrum, with many of the same small conservative sites showing up to sing the president’s praises.

“What’s going on? Have Google’s search results been hijacked by Fox News?”

Lasica interviewed Google News chief scientist Krishna Bharat, who explains, “Our mission is to be all-inclusive. We want breadth and variety. I would like Republicans and Democrats alike to read pro-Kerry and anti-Kerry articles, but it’s not our job to change the natural range of opinions that you see in the press. We’re showing you the world the way it is.”

Google News tracks some 7,000 “news” websites around the globe, but because many small news- and opinion-oriented websites (though not, for the most part, blogs) are now part of the mix, lots of opinion is getting mixed in with the news.

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