Google News now linking to Wikipedia – a recipe for disaster?
Since its launch in 2002, Google's news aggregator has maintained high standards for its "feeder" outlets. Most articles on the site come from established papers such as The Christian Science Monitor, wire services such as the Associated Press, or news sites such as Channel Web; there is also room for input from a coterie of blogs and online forums.
The inclusion of Wikipedia seems to indicate that Google tacitly views the encyclopedia as an equally reputable news source. But Wikipedia is an open-source encyclopedia, which means that each article is subject to editing by a community. The process has been the subject of controversy before, and it will probably be the subject of controversy again.
Should Wikipedia be elevated to the same plane, say, as The New York Times?
Some say yes. Writing on the website of the Nieman Journalism Lab, Zachary Seward argues that Google's move is a "potentially crucial" one for the news business. Consider the Wikipedia entry for Air France Flight 447, for instance. "There is no single page on the Internet with a more thorough, helpful, or informative synopsis of the crash." He writes:
The discrete news article, it has been said, is a framework that worked well in print but doesn’t make much sense on the web. News sites can offer context in a variety of ways that explode the story model, from visualizations to comment threads to what might be called the Wikipedia model of news..... Google News redesigned its homepage last month and began integrating YouTube clips from news organizations. Its cluster pages for individual news stories also got a makeover that more closely resembles a topic page than the old list of articles.
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