Monday, February 18, 2008

Google Drops Inner City News: Censorship? or a Reasonable Response to Complaints?

Google News may have simply been doing the job that news editors do, but there's a distinct odor around the disappearance of Inner City Press from Google News.

Journalist Who Exposes U.N. Corruption Disappears From Google" FOXNews (February 18, 2008)

Specifically, from Google News.

It's hard avoid thinking that Google dropped Matthew Lee's Inner City Press because Mr. Lee doesn't politely ignore
  • United Nations corruption and disasters
  • Google's debatable record on human rights and censorship
Matthew Lee isn't your usual journalist. His style is unpolished. And he's quite willing to expose corruption and other problems in the United Nations. And Google. For example:
  • 2006 drawing attention to human-rights abuses by the Ugandan People's Defense Force during a U.N. disarmament program
  • 2007, asking an embarrassing question during a press conference dedicated to announcing Google's partnership with the UNDP's anti-poverty efforts:
    Why hadn't Google "signed a global human-rights and anti-censorship compact —elements in the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals."
Then, February 8, 2008, Matthew Lee got this email from Google:

"We periodically review news sources, particularly following user complaints, to ensure Google News offers a high quality experience for our users," it said. "When we reviewed your site we've found that we can no longer include it in Google News." [Emphasis mine]

"Following user complaints?!" Who complained? Why? Good questions, with no answers. I've gotten a great deal more interested in Google, now. This sort of thing may explain why I've noticed that Google News, although convenient, often doesn't give useful information.

Google's 'search the web' function still seems to be a notch or two above "pretty good," though.

Since you won't find Mr. Lee's news on Google News any more, here's a link to his website:

Inner City Press"
"Reporting and Taking Action Since 1987"

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