When is a Press Release Not News?
Apparently, when it comes from U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), and it's submitted to Google or Yahoo. Tom Blumer over at BizzyBlog wondered why Google and Yahoo's news search engines miss virtually every release from CENTCOM, and posed that question to the blogosphere. Some of the replies he's received make for interesting--and revelatory--reading.
First, the crew over at Brain Shavings looked at the technical requirements for improving access to CENTCOM news, via Google and Yahoo. In both cases, the fixes are relatively simple, which begs another question: why hasn't someone at CENTCOM--preferably a web-savvy airman or private--resolved this problem a long time ago?
Meanwhile, Mr. Blumer has pinged Google about their near-exclusion of CENTCOM news. He's been contacted by the search engine's public relations department (which has promised to look into the matter), but so far, nothing's happened (surprise, surprise). As he points out, you can find CENTCOM releases via Google and Yahoo news, but it takes a bit of work--more work than it should, quite frankly.
Mr. Blumer also raises an important point about what "is" and "isn't" news at Google and Yahoo. One commenter at BizzyBlog suggested that "all" PR handouts are buried at the search engines. If that were only the case; in reality, even the most fawning press releases make Google news, with apparently little regard for their source, content or accuracy. As Tom reminds us, given the MSM's recent rash of phony stories from Iraq, CENTCOM public affairs should demand better access from the net's premier news search engines. But so far, that hasn't happened, the apparently result of inactivity by the search engines--and CENTCOM.