Meril Yourish is unhappy that a peculiar search she did of stories at GoogleNews didn’t turn up more stories about the Palestinian terrorist cowards who shot a woman and her three kids outside of Jersualem yesterday. Yourish seems to think that this is evidence of bias.
A better explanation is that it’s a function of the way that GoogleNews seems to group stories (and remember, this is still in beta) as well as the search she’s doing.
The search string she is using is looking for news articles similar to some article from The Statesman that used to be in the GoogleNews index (when I follow her link now, it says that story is no longer in the index).
If you do a GoogleNews search on Israel, a story mentioning the terrorist act comes up #6 in the results listing.
The “find more news articles like this” that Yourish is using is likely to produce the weirdest results since Google’s using some sort of heuristic method to automatically link related news stories together. Sometimes it does this pretty good, but since these news stories rarely (if ever) link to each other, a lot of times you get some really odd results. This is also why sometimes on the front page of the GoogleNews site you’ll see some story and next to it a picture that has absolutely nothing to do with the story. A few days ago I was looking at their sports section and they had a series of related stories about basketball accompanied by a picture of a tennis player. Go figure.
It would be an interesting exercise to use Lexis-Nexis to look for difference in coverage of the killing of Palestinians vs. the killing of Israelis in mainstream media coverage. But GoogleNews is far too idiosyncratic and sometimes downright weird to make the sort of claims that Yourish is about it.
Which is not to say that I don’t absolutely adore GoogleNews. As I’ve said before, if I want recent information fast, I usually hit GoogleNew first and only hit Lexis-Nexis if I don’t turn up anything there (and I get Lexis-Nexis access free so cost is no issue).