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Google and Its Sources (UPDATED)

Guess what news source Google pushed for tsunami coverage?

10:44 AM, Mar 11, 2011 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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Oh, Almighty Google Machine--I kid! We know you're not evil. You're the most benevolent algorithm ever. But every once in a while, Google (which owns YouTube) drops a little data point about how it sees the world.

Early this morning, while bopping around YouTube (don't ask) I noticed something different--Google had popped a little "breaking news" alert at the top of the YouTube page, telling viewers about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Here's a little screen cap:

I clicked on the link. And where was YouTube sending its viewers for the latest breaking news from Japan? To the YouTube page of . . . 

That's right: for all the best coverage of Pacific Rim natural disasters, tune in to Al Jazeera!

I'm not trying to make too much of this. For all I know, the link was generated automatically; or Al Jazeera has run a Huffington Post level SEO game. Heck, for all I know, Al Jazeera really does have the best coverage in the world on the Japanese tsunami and is eating the BBC and CNN International and the Asian news service's collective lunch. I don't want to tag the upstart network with the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Or maybe it's just another tiny window into how Google sees--or wants us to see--their world.

UPDATE: Reader B. M. writes in to say that, in his opinion, Al Jazeera was providing the best coverage of the Japanese earthquake: "Surfing around the net after the quake happened last night I found that Al Jazeera had the best live streaming coverage of the quake, better then the BBC, and certainly better then CNN, who as far as I could tell were only running short video clips that they ran a 30 second commercial in front of.  Not to say that Google isn't evil, but I think they got it right in this instance."

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