Lefty CJR finds that Google slants news for just 20 mainstream media outlets
Does Google slant news search results in favor of lefty outlets? The search engine giant, which accounts for 23% of all traffic to news sites denies it. But when you have Columbia Journalism Review finding that it does confine news search results to just 20 outlets, it's starting to get obvious it does.
Here's what CJR found in its investigative story about how the Google algorithm selects what's news:
To find out, the Computational Journalism Lab at Northwestern, including Daniel Trielli and I, undertook an audit study of the “Top Stories” box on Google search. Top Stories often shows up in the prime real-estate at the top of search results, presenting a carousel of news articles relevant to the query.
To audit Top Stories, we scraped Google results for more than 200 queries related to news events in November, 2017. We selected the queries to test by looking at Google Trends every day and manually choosing terms related to hard news events. These included names of people in the news such as “colin kaepernick,” breaking news events such as “earthquake,” and issue-specific queries such as “tax reform” or “healthcare gov.” We set up our scraper to minimize the potential for result personalization (the process by which Google tailors its search results to an account or IP address based on past use), and ran each query once per minute for a full 24 hours.
In total, we collected 6,302 unique links to news articles shown in the Top Stories box. For each of those links we count an article impression each time one of those links appears.
The data shows that just 20 news sources account for more than half of article impressions. The top 20 percent of sources (136 of 678) accounted for 86 percent of article impressions. And the top three accounted for 23 percent: CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. These statistics underscore the degree of concentration of attention to a relatively narrow slice of news sources.
Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post, so looks like one hand washes the other with these billionaire tech plutocrats, including Google's and Amazon's. Anti-trust, anyone?
The other thing, though, is just how establishmentarian Google has become - news agencies pop up and slink down in a real free market. The Google cherrypicking of just 20 news establishments with the gift of high placement on news searches, no matter how well they did or didn't do with the searches, suggests some favoritism, too. Should CNN - which has less viewership in the television rankings than the Discovery Channel, the Food Network, Nickelodeon, and the History Channel - and much of that due to its captive market in the airport lounges of America - really be getting more traffic firsts on Google than any other outlet? Is it really the best news source for all news, even when it can't breach one million viewers? Does any other news agency, particularly a start-up or upstart, have a chance/ One wonders how CNN, this highly favored outlet by Google, would do in a real free market without the prop-ups.
Most important, though, there's the issue of bias, whi. Are any of those 20 new sites name-able as 'conservative-leaning?' The only one listed is Fox News, ranked a distant 4 to the Post, the Times and CNN on CJR's table here.
The other thing is - as Power Line notes - just how at odds Google's acts are to Google's claims to impartiality. As Power Line's Scott Johnson notes:
What is happening here? What is really happening here? Why the repeated actions inconsistent with public statements?
The issue Johnson was commenting on was Google's bid to suppress any listing of the conservative Claremont Institute's research, even for people who were looking for it.
The other thing Google did was hire and then fire a black conservative woman for a member of its board, in what was claimed to be staff outcry, but which more and more looks like trying to get rid of someone who might find out too much.
And one last thing: All of this is happening in the context of conservative voices being suppressed, one by one - Michelle Malkin, James Woods, Alex Jones, Laura Loomer, Milo Yiannopoulos, etc, on large social media outlets, owned by lesser tech giants than Google, but still within crony's distance. It's like they're all working in coordination picking assorted conservative voices off, one by one, starting with the easiest and most 'out there.'
Now there's this, from CJR no less, pointing out that Google is slanting itself for what it likes best - the lefty, liberal establishment. Those are some algorithms those 'don't be evil'-its are following. One almost wonders if they aren't as tech-savvy at identifying new trends in news and boosting up and comers with new voices as they say they are, frozen in a news amber. But then ... one thinks of all the other left-wing things they've done bias-wise and that conclusion can only be secondary.