Last summer, Google started offering journalists a chance to have a photo byline attached to their articles in Google News. But since everything Google does lately seems to have an end goal of integrating its social network (Google Reader revamp, anyone?), they've started rolling out a new option: Attaching articles to authors' Google profiles.
“Knowing who wrote an article can help readers understand the article's context and quality, see more articles by that person, and even interact directly with them,” Google software engineer Eric Weigle explained on the company’s official blog. “Whole communities can form around prominent contributors, which is why we started showing information about content creators next to their material in Google Search.”
Now, rather than just allowing journalists to attach their articles to a simple Google profile, they’ll also have the option to link to a Google+ profile. (Journalism.co.uk claims that authors will be forced to have a Google+ account to attach their info, but Google seems to still be enabling author tags using old-fashioned Google Profiles.) The new Google+ byline displays the reporter’s name and how many Google+ users have the reporter in their circles. For the lead article for each news story, Google News will also display the author’s profile photo, and a link allowing readers to add the author to their Google+ circles.
While Google clearly hopes that these photo bylines will result in more Google+ members (and regain existing users’ interest—last month, a study found that Google+ visits had dropped 60 percent since peaking in September), the move also appears to be part of a long-term strategy to integrate Google+ within all Google products.
“We think of Google+ as a mode of usage of Google, a way of lighting up your Google experience as opposed to a new product,” company executive Bradley Horowitz told VentureBeat. “It’s easy to think of Google+ as something other than just Google, and I think it’ll take more launches before the world catches up with this understanding.”
So if you're frustrated with all of this forced Google+ integration, don't worry—you just don't get it yet.