Does the future of newspapers mean that when you blog about a story appearing in your local paper, a snippet from your blog post could appear next to the story, with a link to it on the pages of the paper? Is this where citizen journalism will lead?
Maybe, and it could possibly happen fairly soon.
What might this mean to bloggers? One benefit they may see are new readers, and perhaps many visitors who really haven’t seen a blog before.
Technorati and Associated Press Teaming Up
An announcement on the Techorati Blog points to a joining of forces between Technorati and the Associated Press (AP) to bring access to blog posts about Associated Press stories to readers of more than 440 newspapers in the United States.
The AP offers a number of different services to newspapers, and their description of AP Hosted Custom News, which will include blog posts under this agreement, is as follows:
The AP hosts a network of more than 450 news Web sites that feature content delivered in the look and feel of each subscribing newspaper and broadcast member. Each site in the network displays AP news organized by category, plus video, photo galleries and interactive features. Also offers targeted advertising opportunities.
The Technorati announcement tells us that when a blogger writes about and links to an AP story on a news site that uses the AP’s hosted custom news service, that link to the AP news URL will lead to a mention of the blog post (and a link to it). They provide a number of examples, like what is shown on this Washington Post page.
It’s worth trying out.
I’m going to post a link to an Associated Press “Hosted Custom News” story appearing in my local paper, The Wilmington News Journal, on a story about surveillence cameras being placed in New York City buses. We’ll see if a mention of this post, and a link to it might appear upon that page. (Delaware’s buses already have surveillance cameras in them, not to discourage terrorism or crime originally, but rather to avoid liability claims in case of accidents.)
Will These Mentions and Links Appear in Search Engines?
That’s because the AP news stories usually don’t appear within the domain of the newspaper itself, and are displayed in either iframes or java script or both, which can cause problems for search engine indexing programs.
The page I linked to above, which carries the Wilmington News Journal branding, includes an iframe titled “Blog Roundup – The most blogged Associated Press articles in the last 48 hours, ” with the Technorati logo at the bottom of the embedded page. The page itself isn’t actually on the Wilmington News Journal site, but instead resides upon the “hosted.ap.org/” subdomain. A search on Google for older Wilmington News Journal branded pages hosted on that domain show that some of those pages stay around for a little while, but most disappear from Google’s index within a month.
That may not be true for other newspapers which are included in the AP Hosted Custom News program. A search using Google’s special “site” search operator shows over a million pages listed in Google for the “hosted.ap.org” subdomain.
But, even if the pages did stay around, the blog content might not be part of what is indexed.
If the blog snippets on the AP Hosted Custom News pages are presented like they are on the pages of The Washington Post, it is unlikely that they would get indexed.
The Washington Post blog content and links appear on their pages through the use of java script. Visitors who have java script disabled won’t see the snippets on those pages, including visitors on mobile devices who may not have java script enabled browsers. Search engine indexing programs will also probably not be able to parse that java script, and access the blog content of those pages to index it.
There does seem to be some search engine optimization wishful thinking going on upon the Washington Post page I linked to, with uniquely crafted page title, meta keywords tag, and meta description tag tailored to the content on the page (or perhaps the original article).
Title: Bush’s Base Betrayal
Meta keywords: supreme court nominee,supreme court justice,supreme court nomination,supreme court candidate,william rehnquist,chief justice,Samuel Alito,Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.,supreme court confirmation”
Meta description: As a candidate in 2000, George W. Bush was a Rorschach test. Country Club Republicans saw him as another George H.W. Bush; some conservatives, thinking wishfully, saw him as another Ronald Reagan. He called himself a "compassionate conservative," which meant whatever one wanted it to mean. Experts…
The article those posts are linked to is behind a registration page (free access, but registration required regardless.) It’s possible that a search engine may be allowed access to those pages even though most browsers aren’t without registration. It is interesting that registration doesn’t appear to be required for these pages with blog posts on them.
Hopefully the Washington Post isn’t relying upon user created content, in the form of those blog post snippets, to provide additional indexable content for search engines. Unless they present that material using a server-based include instead of a client side one like java script, it probably won’t benefit them in that manner – search engines won’t read and index that material. Their use of meta keywords and meta description tags on those pages make it look like they think the content on those pages will get indexed by the search engines.