Google aims for greater transparency on how it ranks news

It has set up a new website to explain how it handles news.

As it has done with several of its products, Google is aiming for greater transparency about a core aspect of its services: news. It opened a website to detail its objectives, principles and approaches to managing news experiences across its various platforms.

The website is a subsection of the Google News Initiative, the company's program for supporting journalists. It offers details on some aspects of how Google handles news, including some of the hundreds of signals its ranking algorithms take into account to identify and organize stories in a way that elevates "diverse, trustworthy information."

Since Google News arrived in 2002, news features have been added to Search, YouTube, Google Assistant, Discover and other products. It says it doesn't make editorial decisions on which articles to display in Google News, save for certain events such as the Oscars or the World Cup, for which it might set up dedicated topics.

Google says it delivers news across its platforms and services in three ways. Top News showcases headlines in Google News and breaking news on YouTube. That shows the key stories at a given time and isn't tailored to you specifically. You'll find more personalized news in Discover, Google News' For You section and the Latest tab on YouTube. The third method is by offering "deep context and diverse perspectives, featuring unpersonalized news from a broad range of sources within Top Stories in Search, Top News search results on YouTube or Full Coverage in Google News."

Given that Google and other tech companies like Facebook, Apple and Twitter are by and large the conduits for the news most of us see in a given day, it's important that we understand how and why they handle the flow of information. Measures such as the How News Works site are a positive step towards that.