Google’s Editors’ Picks


Paywall Pics 006When browsing Google News, I sometimes review the Editors’ Picks section, perusing through several online publications looking for interesting and thought provoking articles. As you may be aware, the Editors’ Picks section is in the right navigation pane slightly down from the top of the Google News’ home page. The other day, this section included soccer news from the Chicago Tribune about indictments for several key FIFA officials. Interested, I wanted to know more about the latest FIFA news and the several indictment charges on possible corruption. The link brings me to a page which says you can either subscribe for .99 for 10 days to get digitalPLUS access or register to continue reading Chicago Tribune stories.

I won’t lie, the message appeared to be quite confusing. When you first see the signage about subscribing for 10 days or registering it gives me hope that I’m able to read that particular article only if I register. In fact, any icons that include the ‘plus’ require you to pay for digitalPLUS access. In fact, whether I register or not, it does not appear to make a difference in terms of my access to the non-Chicago Tribune ‘plus’ articles.

If you click ‘Not Right Now’ on the DigitalPLUS article, it will bring you back to that same offer. Same thing occurs if you click on the articles that require digitalPLUS, the offer is displayed again.

My perception of Editors’ Picks means Google allows information providers to include 5 interesting or pertinPaywall Pics 010ent articles for viewing and sharing. It’s about information sharing without any financial fees if those articles are included in this section.

Wall Street Journal (owned by Media Corporation) too includes articles within Editors’ Picks that require the subscription. If you click on certain articles that are not known at the time to require a subscription by the WSJ, you may be able to read a paragraph or two of that article before you logon. Bait and switch? You don’t know at the time which articles require a subscription and which ones don’t. In addition, it’s very difficult to determine how many of these articles tweeted or included in the Editors’ Picks section are behind the WSJ paywall and require a subscription. All I know is this is quite common when I perusing thought provoking articles through the Editors’ Picks.

According to one source at The Wall Street Journal who I emailed, they’ve devised their paywall model that way in order to add more subscribers. Are they tracking how many of those who sign up through this process become regulars and don’t have any issues with how it’s done? And how many refuse to subscribe? That would be an interesting study. Again, I admire their aggressiveness with the attempt of gaining more subscribers although in my opinion, this tactic puts a scarlet letter on the original intent of Editors’ Picks. Therefore I add, not customer centric.

Can I ask two things of Google? The first request is not to include any news sources within the Editors’ Picks section that require a subscription to view. If they are unwilling to do that, could they add a caveat that certain online news sources require registration or a subscription?



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