Google Helps Washington Post, The Times Organize Content

If Successful, Living Stories Product From Google Labs May Be Available to Any Online Publisher in the Future

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NEW YORK ( -- Everyone wants Google to save the newspapers. This week, the search giant took something of a stab at it, partnering with The New York Times and The Washington Post to launch Living Stories.

It's basically Times and Post stories boiled down to bullet points, hosted on Google Labs.

Google: The idea behind Living Stories is to experiment with a different format for presenting news coverage online. News organizations produce a wealth of information that we all value; access to this information should be as great as the online medium allows.

A typical newspaper article leads with the most important and interesting news, and follows with additional information of decreasing importance. Information from prior coverage is often repeated with each new online article, and the same article is presented to everyone regardless of whether they already read it.

Living Stories try a different approach that plays to certain unique advantages of online publishing. They unify coverage on a single, dynamic page with a consistent URL. They organize information by developments in the story. They call your attention to changes in the story since you last viewed it so you can easily find the new material. Through a succinct summary of the whole story and regular updates, they offer a different online approach to balancing the overview with depth and context.

The Business Insider

Google's Josh Cohen, the guy in charge of Living Stories -- the new Google Labs product that hosts and summarizes stories from the Washington Post and the New York Times -- explained the thinking behind the project to Business Insider's Nicholas Carlson.

Here's what he learned:

  • The summaries are the work of Washington Post and NYT human editors, not Google's computers.
  • There are no ads on any of the "Living Stories."
  • No money changed hands as a result of the partnership.
  • "The whole idea is to really try an provide a new experimental way to see how people consume news."
  • The pages are hosted in Google Labs (not Google News) for now, but if metrics of success are met, the "Living Stories" will move to Times and Post Web domains.
  • So no, Google isn't finally full-fledged a media company.
  • If "Living Stories" makes it out of beta, Google would allow any publisher to use the format on their Web site. "Think of the way publishers use Google Maps," Josh told us.
  • The metrics of success areĀ  "Is this useful to readers?" and "Is this a better way of reading news online then they have today?"

Nicholas Carlson is a senior editor at The Business Insider.

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