Google News has gotten mixed reviews, but its introduction has actually improved my quality of life. I hear lots of rumors and unsubstantiated assertions, and if I’m going to post about something here, I generally like to have it from one reliable source, and preferably more than one reliable source. (That means an exclusive in a British newspaper never, ever cuts it.) Anyway, running down these stories used to be a huge pain for me. I’d hit Yahoo News, the WaPo, the NYT, and then if that didn’t pan out, several other papers to see if I could source stories properly. Now I just plug in the appropriate search terms into Google News to see what comes up. It also lets me compare and contrast between sites that are running the generic wire story and sites that provide more detail that their reporters actually dug up themselves. I feel like this has both improved the quality of the stuff I post and saved me a lot of time.
When I needed to get the exact quote Trent Lott uttered back in 1980 about Strom Thurmond, plugging “trent lott 1980” yielded it in seconds. When I wanted to find out more about the rumors of Microsoft acquiring Rational or Borland, “microsoft borland rational” got me all I needed to know. Dave Farber sent a couple of copy and pastes of news stories out this morning without the URLs to see them on the Web, and digging them up via Google News was a breeze as well.
The Google News home page is much maligned (even though it does a good job of letting you know what’s really widely reported), but to me, the value is in the search engine anyway. I’ve always been envious of people who have access to Lexis/Nexis and other news archives, and Google News gives me a little bit of that.