Google released more details about its transparency policies around Google News for publishers, a few months after it quietly released new manual actions for Google News and Google Discover content policies.
The company “considers what kind of information might be useful to an average person if they want to assess the credibility of a site to determine what constitutes meaningful transparency of news sources,” the policy states.
Google listed certain “article-level” factors and signals that can be used to “consider information that helps users quickly get context about articles or journalists covering stories.” These signals and factors can include:
The byline of an article, which often links to a biography describing the author’s credentials and experience.
Publication date of the article.
Labeling to indicate the type of article, e.g., “Opinion” or “News.”
He also listed site-level signals that “help readers understand a site’s purpose, its organizational structure, and the types of information they can expect from that site.” These signals include:
The breadth of information, such as a mission statement, editorial policies and standards.
Staff information and biographies of editorial and business staff.
Non-generic contact information.
Other organization-level information such as owners and/or funding sources, e.g., state sponsorship, relationship with political parties or PACs.
In addition the company to ensure that its transparency policy is inclusive and responsive to industry changes, has several principles that guide Google’s approach:
Consideration of different regional and country-level expectations and practices around transparency. Google said this is important in areas with less press freedom where practices such as naming a journalist can carry significant risk.
The analysis of a range of inputs and consideration of a wide range of editorial practices. This can help Google ensure that distinctive editorial philosophies, for example, publishing articles without bylines, do not affect the credibility of an authoritative source.
Information that is clear and available to users, “so that larger, more technically sophisticated sites and smaller sites that use plain text to convey information are on an equal footing.”
Publishers and producers of news content who want to improve their performance in Google News should be aware of each of these details to ensure that a site achieves its goal, both in brand identity and in the criteria for each article.