The dominant search engine on the Internet is getting ready to begin ranking news searches by “quality rather than simply by their date and relevance to search times,” giving preference to big news agencies such as CNN, BBC and AP.

The new system was revealed by patents filed in the U.S. and around the world by researchers based at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., according to an account in the New Scientist.

Currently, Google’s news search engine responds to requests for news by keyword with thousands of “hits” leading to news websites. They are now ranked either by most recent or most focused.

“This means that articles carrying more authority, say from CNN or the BBC, can be ousted from the first page of results, simply because they are not as recent or as relevant to the keyword entered in the search line,” reports the New Scientist. “Now, Google, whose name has become synonymous with internet searching, plans to build a database that will compare the track record and credibility of all news sources around the world, and adjust the ranking of any search results accordingly.”

Among the criteria to be used in evaluating the relative “quality” of the news sources are:

  • average story length

  • number of stories with bylines

  • number of bureaus cited

  • how long the news agencies have been in business

  • number of staffers employed by news agencies

  • amount of Internet traffic attracted to sites

  • number of countries accessing the sites

“Google will take all these parameters, weight them according to formulae it is constructing, and distill them down to create a single value,” the report says. “This number will then be used to rank the results of any news search.”

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