E&P Awards: Google News gets finalist status–journos argue

I’ve been following the comments on the online news list regarding Google’s finalist status in E&P’s best online awards.
To my chagrin, some list members are upset that Google’s automated service could make the list at all, since the service is completely automated.
The best comments so far have come from blogger Adrian Holovaty, who said:
“In 2003, ESPN.com was named Best Internet Sports Service. A prominent feature of ESPN.com is its Gamecast technology, which displays graphics and stats for sporting events in real time. Sure, humans somewhere enter that data, but as far as ESPN.com is concerned, Gamecast is automated. It is made possible by software algorithms.
Also last year, CBS MarketWatch.com was named Best Internet Business Service. That site has an amazing amount of dynamically created market information — graphics, tables, averages, all sliced and diced in convenient ways. I’m willing to bet that few humans at CBS MarketWatch are involved with day-to-day generation of that content.
The point, as these somewhat contrived examples show, is that many Web sites — and probably *most* big-media sites in 2004 — are maintained by algorithms to some extent. Programmers, not necessarily journalists, write the code. Google News just takes that to the extreme.
Please note my bias as a professional programmer, but I’d say a news application developed by computer scientists is just as deserving of journalism awards as a collection of news stories produced by traditional journalists.”
I’d agree with Adrian–with the proviso that smart online news folks meet the challenge through determining what kinds of news products algorithms can’t create–and making sure to lead with those (this comment is a slap at a community so terrific of blogging that at a recent conference, folks couldn’t get off debating “big vs. little” media (ie bloggers and journos, yawn)