NYT editorial: When Google was a pure search engine, it was easy to appear agnostic about search results, with no reason to play favorites with one Web site or another. But as Google has branched out into online services from maps and videos to comparison shopping, it has acquired pecuniary incentives to favor its own over rivals.
SEL satire: When the New York Times was a pure newspaper, it was easy to appear agnostic about its editorial coverage, with no reason to play favorites with one business or another. But as the New York Times has branched out, making investments in external companies, it has acquired pecuniary [that means financial, by the way] incentives to favor those over rivals.
NYT editorial: The potential impact of Google’s algorithm on the Internet economy is such that it is worth exploring ways to ensure that the editorial policy guiding Google’s tweaks is solely intended to improve the quality of the results and not to help Google’s other businesses. Some early suggestions for how to accomplish this include having Google explain with some specified level of detail the editorial policy that guides its tweaks. Another would be to give some government commission the power to look at those tweaks.
SEL satire: The potential impact of the New York Times algorithm on the internet economy, not to mention the US economy, the US government and the world as a whole is such that it is worth exploring ways to ensure that the editorial policy guiding the New York Times is solely intended to improve the quality of journalism and not to help other businesses that the New York Times owns or the bottom line of its for-profit owners. Some early suggestions for how to accomplish this include having the New York Times explain with some specified level of detail the editorial policy that guides what it decides to covers, what it doesn’t decide to cover, why it chooses to write a particular headline with a particular angle, to show all versions of a newspaper story that is written from start to finish, to reveal what’s been edited out. Another would be to give some government commission the power to look at all these aspects, perhaps the power to reside within the newsroom and ensure fairness.
Seriously. I'm not saying people shouldn't question Google's motives. I can say that I feel confident that we're doing things the right way, but we're a big company with a lot of money at stake so you don't have to take my word for it. But I do think this is an epically lame ass editorial.
As Danny Sullivan, the author of the spoof says, "What the New York Times has suggested is that the government should oversee the editorial judgment of a search engine. Suffice to say, the editorial staff of the New York Times would scream bloody murder if anyone suggested government oversight of its own editorial process. First it would yell that it has no bias, so oversight is unnecessary. Next it would yell even more loudly that the First Amendment of the US Constitution protects it from such US government interference."
The whole Search Engine Land article is thorough and very interesting (at least if you are me) - did you know search engines are protected by the first amendment? Damn skippy.