Monday, 17 November 2008

Ishy’s gonna get Google for news on him.

Last week’s guest speaker, Anthony Mayfield, spoke about how Google has defined web-searching, due to its quickness and – in his words – ‘honesty’ in generating the most popular and relevant results in next to no time.

Google News was mentioned and it was it said that, due to the “key word” nature of “Googling”, the resource would yield its best results from those news sources with intros containing specific words to relevant to the story as opposed to snappy one liners.

After the lecture I took myself off to the Newspaper Room in Bute, and after nearly spitting my tea out over a PC screen, Google News was one of my first ports of call.

You see, this week I can’t bring myself to write this blog without mentioning the biggest story in West Midlands football – the sacking of controversial now-former Walsall winger Ishmel Demontagnac.

Former Walsall winger Ishmel Demontagnac enjoys happier times, but his sacking last week made national headlines.

This is neither the place nor the platform to talk about the whys and wherefores of the situation itself; however I am blogging about the fascinating way in which the story has been covered online.

Getting the news early on Thursday afternoon, I went to Google News to see who had picked up the news – or at least ‘went live’ with it online – first.

The first “official” source to hit the ground running was the Express & Star, with their initial piece hitting the net at 11.26am – around half an hour after unofficial club fansite UpTheSaddlers had uploaded the story, prompted by news reports on local radio station BBC WM.

In contrast, the BBC uploaded an item onto their website (interestingly as a leading article on the BBC England news pages, rather than one primarily for the sport section) at 12.11 – a piece that has since been updated to include further quotes from the club, and a news report from Thursday evening’s Midlands Today TV news bulletin.

The Birmingham Mail put their first report on this news up early in the afternoon, not long before the Express & Star uploaded a more considered article citing Walsall manager Jimmy Mullen’s thoughts at 2.20pm.

As the day developed, the nationals got into the act. Those that covered the story in detail tended to put their own spin on it, for the benefit of a wider audience.

The Daily Mail, through their ex-Express & Star reporter Neil Moxley, spoke of how “Walsall have taken a stand against football’s bad boys” quoting at length former Saddlers manager Paul Merson.

Over at The Times, after initially publishing curt details, Peter Lansley wrote about the story leading with the perspective of PFA boss Gordon Taylor.

Today, as you can see from the screenshot above, it is the two Times articles that come out as the top two results through Google News’ search engine optimisation.

They are listed ahead of the Express & Star, BBC, Birmingham Mail and all of the other sources who broke the news ahead of them. The Daily Mail is only beaten by the BBC from that list.

This goes to show that it’s not just being first with the news that counts – but by getting the best, most interesting take on the story it can leave a more lasting impression.

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