Google Launches Living Stories

Google has been criticized more than once for being a threat to the newspaper business, but it appears a friendship has actually been blossoming under the radar between this search engine giant and two of the country’s leading news publications. Google, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, launched a new collaborative online news tool yesterday.

The Living Stories Project is an experiment in presenting news in an online environment. It builds upon a concept that some newspaper websites already adopt – grouping articles and related subject matter by topic. Eight pages in total, three for the Washington Post covering health care reform, DC schools and the Washington Redskins, and five for the New York Times devoted to Afghanistan, executive compensation, global warming, swine flu, and health care, will adopt the new Living Stories format.

Living Stories allows you to find full stories in one place, on one unique URL. Developing stories about a hot news topic are grouped together on a single web page, and new updates are automatically highlighted at the top of that page each time you return. You can read summaries of each story, explore it in depth in a variety of different mediums, view a timeline of events, filter for specific aspects, and more. Aside from the benefits this offers the average online news reader, the Times and Post may begin to see their Google rankings soar as their pages are pushed to the top of the list when people search for hot news topics.

Living Stories may lack some of the technological pomp and circumstance we are used to seeing with new Google tools, but it is still early. The pages are going to reside at Google Labs for a couple of months, and if all goes well they will revert to each newspapers’ website, and Google may expand this service to other papers as well.

Hopes are high for this new tool, but only time will tell if Living Stories is going to make waves in the realm of online news.

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