This morning when I checked out Google News it didn't look the way it did yesterday morning. That's because the Google News homepage has been revamped with several changes designed to highlight interesting stories I didn't know existed and to make it easier for me to share stories through social networks.
That meant I had to start my day by customizing my Google News experience by thinking about how often I would like to read news from each of the standard sections and adding topics that I follow.
Hey, I've only had my first cup of coffee. Gimme a break.
So, to help you cope with these changes, I've found a short video that will talk you off the ledge. So, sip your soy latte in peace and listen to the nice software engineer make everything sound like we've all been asking for these changes for a long, long time.
Okay, so what's really going on?
The new heart of the homepage is something Google calls "News for you." It's a stream of headlines automatically tailored to your interests -- after you help Google figure out what those interests are.
To do that, use the "Edit personalization" box to specify how much you're interested in World, U.S., Business, SciTech, Entertainment, Sports, Health or any subject you want to add (whether it's the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa or social networking). You can choose to view the stories by Section view or List view, and reveal more headlines by hovering over the headline with your mouse.
Google News will remember your preferences each time you log in. If you don't want customized Google News, hit "Reset personalization" to clear all personalization preferences. If you haven't previously customized and would prefer not to, simply close the "Edit personalization" box. You can always go back and change it later.
To give you more control over the news that you see, Google now allows you to choose which news sources you'd like to see more or less often. You can do that in News Settings. These sources will rank higher or lower for you in Google News search results and story clusters -- but not for anyone else.
Google News has also added keyboard shortcuts for navigation, like in Gmail or Google Reader. Just hit the question mark key to pop up a full list of the shortcuts.
Now, there are the subjects that interest you and then there's also the major news of the day. To make it easy for you to find the big stories like the "Sea monster" fossil found in Peru desert, Google has added links to topics that many outlets are covering. You'll find these topics in the Top Stories section on the left side of the homepage as well as in linked keywords above headlines. Clicking on a topic link takes you to a list of related coverage that you can add to your news stream. You can change your preferences any time in "Edit personalization."
So, is personalized news a good thing? Last October, The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported that the Fox News Channel was viewed by Americans in more ideological terms than other television news networks. And while the public was evenly divided in its view of hosts of cable news programs having strong political opinions, more Fox News viewers saw this as a good thing than as a bad thing.
So, now conservatives can get their "news" from sources they'd like to see more often and liberals can do the same. It appears that the First Law of Journalism will now be to confirm existing prejudice, rather than contradict it.
Ugh. I'm going to need a second cup of coffee before I personalize my "news" this morning.