Keynote: To Trust Google or Not?

Sneha Antony
ONA Newsroom

Why should you trust Google?

That’s the question posed to Google News head Richard Gingras as the Online News Association kicked off its annual conference Thursday morning.

“People can make decisions everyday about whether or not to trust Google with the click of their mouse,” he said.

Mobile web “is in crisis,” Gingras said, calling ad blockers a symptom of a bigger problem. The user experience is being trampled upon by a proliferation of advertisements as well as slow page load times, he said.

Gingras sat down with Emily Bell, from Columbia Journalism School’s Tow Center of Digital Journalism, to discuss critical issues impacting journalism today during the conference’s keynote, “A Deep Dive into Google.”

“Today’s ecosystem is vastly different from the one 40 years ago where the number of publications were not more than 10,000. Here we are in the world of the Internet where we come to the millions,” Gingras said. “The New York Times is competing on equal footing with blogs and corporate spin sites.”

Session attendee Alan Soon, CEO of Splice Newsroom, agreed.

“I will admit to using an ad blocker myself,” Soon said. “I think the way mobile news works is problematic. The entire experience is broken. I think this is a great ongoing conversation not just in the U.S. but all over the world.”

This diversification of news outlets online raises questions of trustworthiness.

To combat these issues, Gingras reviewed the Trust Project, a project that he and Sally Lehrman, a fellow at the Markkula Center of Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, are working on. “We can’t rely on the old model of in essence ‘trust us because we are us,’” he said. Gingras said the Trust Project proposes that journalists publish a statement of ethics online, disclose conflicts of interest, reveal all players in content creation of articles and aspire to create the most accurate versions of their stories. Google would then favor these sites in its algorithm. “The objective isn’t about how we improve the quality of journalism. It is how do we make sure that the quality of journalism that is there is understood to be just that,” Gingras said.

Sophomore Indiana University student Sarah Panfil said she appreciates Google’s passion to change the way people view journalism.

Gingras concluded that these were issues journalists should continue to discuss and experiment with using new media technology.

Here are some takeaways from Gingras’ session

Video: Ernesto Rivera, ONA Newsroom

My biggest takeaway was passion. I got a sense of passion from Richard Gingras and I got a sense that he appreciates the passion in journalists.
Sarah Panfil, student at Indiana University: “My biggest takeaway was passion. I got a sense of passion from Richard Gingras and I got a sense that he appreciates the passion in journalists.”
Alan Soon – CEO and Founder of Splice Newsroom in Singapore I liked some of the comments about the future of mobile web. I think it is something that needs to be solved.
Alan Soon, CEO and founder of Splice Newsroom: 
“I liked some of the comments about the future of mobile web. I think it is something that needs to be solved.”
Tay Wiles, Online editor at High Country News in Colorado:
Tay Wiles, Online Editor at High Country News in Colorado: 
“I thought it was pretty interesting that the head of Google News was saying that the results of their algorithm is accessible to anyone to analyze and let them know whether they are doing a good job.”

Check out our roundup of the “Deep Dive Into Google” session below