Jinfo BlogFree, Useful, Dangerous? Comparative review of Google News, Yahoo! News and Bing News

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By Scott Brown

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Abstract

Sources like Bing News, Google News and Yahoo! News can readily provide “good enough” information in many situations – getting familiar with a new topic, monitoring mentions of a company, or identifying spikes in news coverage, just to name a few. These advantages can very appealing to individual users and to organisations. But when free news sources are being used within the organisation, some potential liabilities can come into play.  A new FreePint Report compares and contrasts the major search engines for business news monitoring and discusses the risks an organisation takes on by using these services.

Item

OK, how many people have Google News alerts set up? Raise your hands. Yeah, I thought so – pretty much all of you.

And why shouldn't we? Google News alerts are easy to set up. They generally provide good results. And they allow us, and our users (and we KNOW our users are using them, too) to keep updated on a variety of topics.

Hard-core researchers and information professionals may grudgingly admit their usage of free news sources like Google News, Bing News and Yahoo! News – the “big free three”, as we refer to them in the FreePint Report on The Big Free Three for News. Maybe in the backs of our minds, we still think of Google as the bane of the professional researcher. (Some of us think this in the fronts of our minds, too.) We may feel twinges of guilt using these tools for news monitoring, because we know the value of paid subscription sources.

At the same time, every organisation is taking a close look at its content budget and sending the inevitable questions our way: "Do we really need to pay SO much for premium news services, when I can get plenty of news from (insert the name of one of the big free three here)?"

Sources like Bing News, Google News and Yahoo! News can readily provide “good enough” information in many situations – getting familiar with a new topic, monitoring mentions of a company, or identifying spikes in news coverage, just to name a few.

Each of the big free three offers some key advantages: namely ease of use and broad content coverage. These advantages can very appealing to individual users and to organisations. But when free news sources are being used within the organisation, some potential liabilities can come into play. Unlike most proprietary (and paid) news sources, accuracy and relevance of the content delivered comes into question. An even bigger potential risk is in the the terms and conditions of commercial search engines – which often make clear that the original publishers of the content control any usage of the content. As reviewers Africa Hands and Robin Neidorf found, most publishers and sources restrict usage to personal, non-commercial interests. 

Report chapters cover sources, search functions, user interface and mobile tools, with a special chapter discussing terms and conditions and related risks.

The fact is that we're all using these services to one degree or another. The only way to do so without inadvertently creating risk for ourselves, our organisations and our users is to fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of each, as well as the overall risks.

The FreePint Report on The Big Free Three for News puts the big free three through a series of tests and analyses. Compare, contrast and use with caution.  

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