Google News “en español”, a double-edged sword

Google News España(, launched in Madrid on September 30th, is the latest Google news search service, providing news in Spanish from all over the world. Google News España includes content from 700 different news sources. This number will increase as the service develops, representatives of Google News España told Portadatm>

“Google News offers its Spanish-speaking users the possibility of having different angles and points of view on any news item,” Larry Page, co-founder of Google, told the Spanish press. In essence, the home page of Google News sums up the latest news and events from a myriad of sources – a global front page compiled by Google's clustering and analysis technology without any human intervention.

Google News España's sources include US Hispanic newspapers such as La Opinión, El Nuevo Herald, La Raza, and Diario La Estrella, as well as commercial wires such as Hispanic PR Wire. However, a search for Latina, Catalina and People en español did not find any of these magazines listed as contributors. Other news sources include the Spanish newspapers El Mundo, ABC, El Periódico de Catalunya, and a number of Latin American print media outlets, such as Clarín from Argentina, El Comercio from Perú, La Tercera and El Mercurio from Chile, El Nacional from Venezuela and Cuba's Gramma. “Now if the best coverage of a Real Madrid soccer match is done by El Nuevo Herald, you can access it on Google News España,” Spanish media analyst José Cervera tells Portadatm.

Dilemma for publishers

Google processes more than 200 million searches per day, 2,130 per second. Being included in “Google News en español” raises a publication's visibility and can considerably increase the number of visits to its website. The Spanish website IBLNews has seen hits to its website increase by 50% since the launch of Google News España.

Google only includes content which is available free of charge. An increasing number of publishers are charging for the content of their websites or requiring their visitors to provide their personal data in order to register.

Publishers face a trade-off: They can offer online content free of charge, increasing recognition and prestige, but forcing them to rely on advertising revenue. Or they can charge for online content, and not cannibalize their printed version with their online version.

“In the current ‘attention economy' it doesn't make sense to limit the distribution of free content by third parties like Google News España,” Cervera explains. “For a mass publication to maintain prestige and credibility it makes more sense to have 100,000 visits than 5,000 paying subscribers.” In Cervera's opinion the pay-for-content model is doomed. Other observers, however, say the jury is still out as to whether or not online advertising can offset the lost income from subscription sales.

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