Google News has been one of the usual suspects when you want to monitor current news. The challenge of Google News is that the layout and organization of the stories is done by algorithm rather than by a real live human. This sometimes results in stories from less reliable sources being featured, at the expense of providing links to more trustworthy sources. Perhaps the more significant issue is that, in order to read any of the news, you need to click through to the story. Want another perspective? You'll have to go back to Google News, skim the headlines and decide what other sources offer better coverage.
Google has partnered with The Washington Post and The New York Times to provide a more journalistic approach to providing news. This new offering, called Living Stories, provides more in-depth coverage of ongoing stories. Right now, the news items being covered include the war in Afghanistan, H1N1 flu, health care reform, global warming and the debate over executive compensation. Yes, a bit US-centric, but I have hopes that Google will expand to more global issues.
Each story includes an in-depth review of the issues involved, a timeline showing key events, selected news articles and features, videos, slideshows, graphics, profiles of the key players, and links to key resources. Because these "living stories" are maintained by editors rather than generated algorithmically, they offer a way to get a good introduction and perspective on a current issue.
Living Stories may not be the go-to source for late-breaking news stories, but this is an exciting initiative. In fact, I hope that newspapers everywhere look at how Living Stories is received; this is a great way to leverage all the content that newspapers produce and tap into the knowledge of reporters by including links to the key primary sources as well.