OLD Media Moves

Tribune Co. now blames Google for problems with United Air story

September 10, 2008

The Tribune Co. said Wednesday that the confusion surrounding a 2002 Chicago Tribune article on the Internet this past weekend started with the inability of Google’s automated search agent “Googlebot” to differentiate between breaking news and frequently viewed stories on the websites of its newspapers.

Tribune Co.Those problems caused a six-year-old story about United Airlines being in bankruptcy court protection to show up and be transmitted on the Bloomberg News service. United Airlines’ stock then fell before the error was caught.

The company said it identified problems with Googlebot months ago and asked Google to stop using Googlebot to crawl newspaper websites, including The Sun Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale), for inclusion in Google News. Despite this request, Google continued using Googlebot to crawl The Sun Sentinel’s website, which is where the United Airlines story was seen by Google.

Despite the company’s earlier request and the confusion caused by Googlebot and Google News earlier this week, the Tribune Co. said it believes that Googlebot continues to misclassify stories.

Tribune also released a summary of the sequence of events started by Googlebot’s crawling The Sun Sentinel’s website in the late-evening and early-morning hours of Sept. 6 and Sept. 7.

The summary can be found here.

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