Google Is Good For Journalism

Marissa Mayer testified before Sen. John Kerry’s committee hearing “The Future Of Journalism” yesterday. As Mayer is VP of Search and User Experience at Google, it’s no surprise that she’s a Google fan. But she’s also co-chair of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, so she definitely knows what she’s talking about.

Her conclusion? News is becoming “atomized”—a fancy way of saying that just as people listen to songs instead of albums, now we read articles instead of full newspapers. Readers now need context.

“To make an article effective in a standalone setting requires providing sufficient context for first-time readers, while clearly calling out the latest information for those following a story over time. It also requires a different approach to monetization: each individual article should be self-sustaining….When a reader finishes an article online, it is the publication’s responsibility to answer the reader who asks, “What should I do next?” Click on a related article or advertisement? Post a comment? Read earlier stories on the topic? Much like suggests related products and YouTube makes it easy to play another video, publications should provide obvious and engaging next steps for users.”

This, I can’t stress enough, is genius. Who hasn’t gotten lost on YouTube after following a trail of “related videos” for minutes (or hours…guilty as charged)? What are news sites doing to replicate this? The “most clicked” and “most e-mailed” sidebars that are so popular are a good start, but maybe we need something more exciting.

What do you think?