Executives from Google, the Washington Post and New York Times have announced a new partnership to create living story pages, tools which they believe might revolutionize the way people find news on line.
The concept is to group developing stories about a particular subject on one Web page which automatically updates when new content is added.
“So much of what you see online today is a reflection of the way it’s told in newspapers,” Josh Cohen, senior business product manager for Google News told Post media critic Howard Kurtz. “They haven’t taken advantage of what the Web offers to tell news in a different way.”
The Post and Times could conceivably boost their rankings on Google by grouping stories in this manner. This could increase the likelihood that people will click on their stories, and that might translate into increased revenue for the beleaguered print giants.
The Times has established 5 living story pages covering Afghanistan, executive compensation, global warming, health care and swine flu. Meanwhile, The Post has launched 3, devoted to DC schools, health-care reform, and the moribund Washington Redskins.
The experimental story pages currently reside at Google Labs as the parties work out the kinks. The goal is to transfer the pages to the Web sites of the newspapers themselves.
“Over the coming months, we’ll refine Living Stories based on your feedback,” Google says in a blog posting. If the format gains traction, Google plans to offer it to any interested newspaper, magazine or Web site, at no charge.
Kurtz reports that the living story page concept grew from discussions last spring involving Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Donald Graham, CEO of The Washington Post Co. Later, Google began separate conversations with executives at the Times.