When Major Stories Break, Google News Dawdles

MIGUEL HELFT writes in the New York Times:

The death of Tim Russert of NBC News this month quickly became a top article on the nation’s biggest news sites. The front page of Google News took about an hour to catch up.

Google blamed a technical problem for the delay and said it was not a sign that its news site, whose content is compiled entirely by computer programs, lacks timeliness. Still, while news organizations continue to worry about what Google is doing to their business, the company is far from achieving the kind of dominant position in news that it has in other areas. Six years after its start, Google News appears to be stuck in neutral and struggling to keep up with rivals.

Several online news experts say Google News has changed little, especially when compared with services like Google Maps and Gmail, which add new features at a rapid pace. Perhaps as a result, traffic growth is sluggish. With 11.4 million users in May, Google News ranked No. 8 among news sites, far behind Yahoo News, which was No. 1 with 35.8 million visitors, according to Nielsen Online.

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