At Yahoo, Using Searches To Steer News Coverage

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“Algorithm as editor” is the phrase coined to describe Yahoo’s unique new way of delivering news content to its readers. It’s a reversal of the previous “top down” method of news delivery in which editors looked at the stories of the day and decided what was important for the masses. Now, the masses (through their searches of the day) are determining what news is delivered.

This “news democratization” has been taken a step further by Yahoo, who’s introduced a news blog that relies on search queries to guide its reporting and writing on national affairs, politics, and media.

Of course, search-generated content has been growing by leaps and bounds online. Yahoo recently purchased online news company Associated Content, which was based on this model of journalism based on current buzz.

To make it work, Yahoo has taken its search analytics, which track phrases and topics that are gaining popularity across its network, and is now using that to drive what stories its news coverage teams (editors and writers) will cover. For now, this is happening on the Yahoo blog Upshot, whose staff of two editors and six bloggers is covering news in near-real-time based on the trends.

This more direct approach to appealing to its audience’s wishes, in terms of what types of news they’re interested in, may pay off for the search-engine gone news outlet. As a bonus aside, this type of content delivery also focuses advertising in such a way that it becomes a powerful draw to ad buyers.

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