Google News spotlights YouTube, suffers outage

Google News has begun emphasizing YouTube-hosted video reports embedding directly on the page. However, the news site suffered an outage Thursday.

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Stephen Shankland
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Editors' note: Besides the Google News outage, there have been problems affecting other Google sites as well. Click here for the latest on those widespread Google outages. In addition, this story was corrected at 11:30 a.m. PDT to reflect that YouTube videos already had been available, but now are spotlighted as a part of a broader Google News facelift.

Google News was inaccessible for many on Thursday morning. But when it re-emerged, it sported newly prominent news videos hosted at YouTube.

Some news headlines now feature a small YouTube logo. Clicking on it triggers an embedded YouTube player with a news video. Although the videos had been present before, Google is calling attention to them with the new logo as part of a facelift launched Thursday, spokeswoman Jennie Johnson said.

YouTube news videos now are prominent up on Google News.
YouTube news videos now are prominent up on Google News. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Johnson said the videos are drawn from Google partners in the YouTube news channel.

Another change at Google News Thursday includes the addition of photos and images on the section pages devoted to topics such as Sci/Tech, World, and Business.

Thursday's changes followed another batch a week ago that added more heft to the "cluster" pages that show when you click on the "all 1,000 news articles" link that shows beneath groups of related headlines. Those earlier changes included images, excerpted quotations, sections that organize headlines by geography, and a section for blog headlines.

The greater attention to YouTube move not only increases the profile of video news within Google News, but also potentially increases the incentive for news organizations to work with YouTube. And it makes Google News more of a hub for news consumption, rather than just a mechanism for referring readers and viewers to other sites.

Some prominent media executives have been attacking Google, asserting it benefits more from professionally produced content than it gives back. Google argues that it sends billions of readers to news sites through Google News, whose results are sometimes blended into the main Google search results as well.

Earlier this year, Google began showing paid advertisements on Google News, too, when people perform searches.

Google News may be influential, but it's not perfect. The site was down Thursday morning for users in Boston, New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, Austin, Texas, and Sarasota, Fla., but worked for one user in London. One CNET News reader reported that the outage began at least at 5:50 a.m. PDT; service appeared to return for people between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. PDT.

Google confirmed the outage.

"Earlier today, Google News was temporarily unavailable for many users from approximately 3:30 a.m. until around 7 a.m. Pacific Time. This issue has now been resolved," the company said in a statement. "We know how important Google News is to our users, so we take issues like this very seriously. We apologize to those users who were affected."

Twitter search, which can be a useful gauge of whether a problem with a Web site outage is widespread, showed many other reports as well.

Google News was inaccessible for many on Thursday morning.
Google News was inaccessible for many on Thursday morning. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

News on YouTube itself isn't new; YouTube has a news channel, and Google has been encouraging citizen journalists to add their own content.

And YouTube, of course, is a force to be reckoned with in online video. Of the 9.5 billion video streams delivered online in the U.S. during April, 5.5 billion of them, or 58 percent, were through YouTube, according to statistics from Nielsen Online on Thursday. And while online video stream delivery overall in April grew 24 percent year over year, it grew 36 percent for YouTube--meaning that it's not only large, but it's also gaining share.

However, Hulu, which hosts video from NBC, Fox, and now Disney, is growing faster, Nielsen said. It's in second place with 373,000 streams delivered in April, or 4 percent share, but its year-over-year growth was 490 percent, Nielsen said.