New tools and features for readers and reporters aimed to help local news organizations launched by Google. The key feature is a carousel that shows local news in response to search queries. The search giant has started launching new tools and features around the world in all languages. Google initially launched the feature to provide local information for COVID searches. The feature also expanded to other topics such as sports, local government, and more. Google has indicated that it’s been tweaking its systems so that authoritative, relevant local news sources appear more often next to national publications in Top Stories and other general news features. Google said, “This improvement ensures people will see authoritative local stories when they’re searching for news, helping both the brand and the content of news publishers reach more people”.
The new feature has the ability to drill down into narrow subtopics related to local news. You should get more relevant results combined with its location services. Google said, “For instance, if you’re in Detroit and search for football, we’ll now show you results for local high school and college teams, rather than just showing you results for, say, the professional team”. It will also surface Tweets from news organizations along with authoritative sources and authors. Google announced new data tools for reporters alongside the new consumer features. First up is the Census Mapper project; a map that can be embedded in stories to display Census data at the national, state, and county levels. Moreover, the tool was developed as part of the 2020 Census Co-op, supported by the Google News Initiative.
Google is also improving its visual journalism project that allows reporters to explore local data, the Common Knowledge Project. The new features might be cold comfort to the many local newspapers and websites that have been gone out of business in part due to the flow of ad dollars to companies like Facebook and Google. Google has been trying to repair its reputation as a source for disinformation by launching multiple programs, particularly the Google News Initiative. The company has now teamed with PBS Student Report Labs (SRL) and other journalism organizations on programs designed to strengthen media literacy for students, educators, and the public. However, Google and Student Report Labs are creating educational resources designed at teaching young people how to talk about misinformation with older family members and friends.