richard gingras

Richard Gingras

VP, News

Published Sep 12, 2019

Google Search was built to provide everyone access to information on the web—and with tens of thousands of web pages, hundreds of hours of video, thousands of tweets and news stories published every minute of the day, our job is to sift through that content and find the most helpful results possible. With news in particular, we always aim to show a diversity of articles and sources to give users as much context and insight as possible.   

An important element of the coverage we want to provide is original reporting, an endeavor which requires significant time, effort and resources by the publisher. Some stories can also be both critically important in the impact they can have on our world and difficult to put together, requiring reporters to engage in deep investigative pursuits to dig up facts and sources.  These are among the reasons why we aim to support these industry efforts and help people get access to the most authoritative reporting.

Recently, we’ve made ranking updates and published changes to our search rater guidelines to help us better recognize original reporting, surface it more prominently in Search and ensure it stays there longer. This means readers interested in the latest news can find the story that started it all, and publishers can benefit from having their original reporting more widely seen.

Ranking changes to support original reporting 

In today’s fast-paced world of news, the original reporting on a subject doesn’t always stay in the spotlight for long. Many news articles, investigations, exclusive interviews or other work can be so notable that they generate interest and follow-up coverage from other publications. And in other cases, many stories cover a single news development, with all of them published around the same time. This can make it difficult for users to find the story that kicked everything off.

While we typically show the latest and most comprehensive version of a story in news results, we’ve made changes to our products globally to highlight articles that we identify as significant original reporting. Such articles may stay in a highly visible position longer. This prominence allows users to view the original reporting while also looking at more recent articles alongside it.

There is no absolute definition of original reporting, nor is there an absolute standard for establishing how original a given article is. It can mean different things to different newsrooms and publishers at different times, so our efforts will constantly evolve as we work to understand the life cycle of a story.

Changing our rater guidelines

We use algorithms to sort through everything we find on the web and organize this content in a way that is helpful. Those algorithms are composed of hundreds of different signals that are constantly updated and improved. To tune and validate our algorithms and help our systems understand the authoritativeness of individual pages, we have more than 10,000 raters around the world evaluating our work – their feedback doesn’t change the ranking of the specific results they’re reviewing; instead it is used to evaluate and improve algorithms in a way that applies to all results. The principles that guide how they operate are mapped out in our search rater guidelines, a public document that allows raters to better understand and assess the unique characteristics of content that appears in Search results. 

In short: these guidelines are the clear description of what we value in content when ranking.  And we’ve just introduced a change to help us gather new feedback so that our automated ranking systems can better surface original content. 

To illustrate the update, in section 5.1 of the guidelines, we instruct raters to use the highest rating, “very high quality,” for original news reporting “that provides information that would not otherwise have been known had the article not revealed it. Original, in-depth, and investigative reporting requires a high degree of skill, time, and effort.”

In addition to recognizing individual instances of original reporting at the page level, we also ask raters to consider the publisher’s overall reputation for original reporting. That update in section 2.6.1 reads: “Many other kinds of websites have reputations as well. For example, you might find that a newspaper (with an associated website) has won journalistic awards. Prestigious awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize award, or a history of high quality original reporting are strong evidence of positive reputation.”

We hope these updates to elevate original reporting will provide people with a deeper understanding of their changing communities and the conversations going on around them. Giving everyone better access to original journalism across all types of stories—ranging from moviessportsmusic and celebrity scoops to the serious journalism behind #MeToo, the Panama Papers and the opioid crisis—is all about helping people stay informed about the news that matters to them. 


Tareq Ismail

“Are they completely nuts?” read the review from the New York Times of Amazon’s original Kindle e-reader back in 2007.

“Printed books are dirt cheap, never run out of power and survive drops, spills and being run over. And their file format will still be readable 200 years from now” the article continued to argue.

Fast forward 12 years and the Kindle, along with its iOS and Android apps, dominate the reading market.

Have they killed physical books? Of course not.

Like many first impressions of new products that impose a false narrative, they were never meant to.

New products start off daring and often misunderstood. They need to be carefully studied and iterated upon.

Jonathan Ive described it best when he said:

“While ideas ultimately can be so powerful, they begin as fragile, barely formed thoughts, so easily missed, so easily compromised, so easily just squished

The original Kindle is the perfect example of that notion. So much about the Kindle has changed over the years but Kindle devices today still remain true to the vision first shown in its original device. There’s a lot to learn in retrospect from studying its design and feature set and reflecting on its initial ideas.

Physical Design

The original Kindle’s form factor was boxy and uninviting.

In its case it was meant to resemble how a traditional paperback novel would look when its cover was bent back and it’s pages formed a slanted edge.

The Kindle’s slanted edge, however, also acted as a large Next Page button and was easy to accidentally press when holding the device. And, unlike a paperback whose pages and cover are comfortable to hold, the hard plastic the Kindle was made from had much less give.

Although the idea to make it physically familiar to a book was fine, Amazon’s execution was poor and that later guided them to craft their own unique physical form factor in all of its future Kindle generations.

The Keyboard

The keys on the Kindle’s keyboard were angled inwards, similar to how BlackBerry keyboards were designed, to help space the keys for more comfortable typing. But unlike BlackBerry keyboards, keys were hard to press and didn’t give enough feedback and its layout just made the device look cluttered.

What’s more interesting than the Kindle’s keyboard’s physical design, was its inclusion on the device to begin with.

No other e-readers at the time had a dedicated physical keyboard

It was aspirational. Amazon hoped it would instill a culture of review and reflection among readers.

They continued the idea with their social network that they tried to create around Kindle books where users could follow what other users were reading, including well known authors, and see their highlights and notes.

It didn’t last long. The physical keyboard only made it to the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX before being taken out altogether for all future Kindle devices. Users can still take notes using a virtual on-screen keyboard but its clear that its far less of a priority and focus for the device.

Scroll Wheel

The original Kindle’s scroll wheel is a feature that you have to see to believe.

The wheel itself wasn’t anything remarkable but the indicator that showed position was something I’ve never seen anywhere else. It was truly wild.


So, the technology that powered Amazon’s e-ink screen, at the time, had too slow of a refresh rate and so an on-screen cursor or caret would have felt too sluggish. Amazon needed some way to solve how a user would navigate the interface.

And so if you can’t find a solution to the problem, you change the problem instead.

Instead of finding a way to speed the refresh rate of the e-ink screen, Amazon introduced a small physical bar to the right of the e-ink screen that housed a mirror-like indictor controlled by the scroll wheel.

Is this magic? Metallic. Reflective. Changed shaped.

It looked magical.

Using some form technology that I’ve never seen anywhere else, the indicator looks like a series of small reflective mirrors that would somehow change in shape and size to indicate position or to show a progress bar.

It’s still one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen.


To transfer books to the original Kindle, you could either download them on your computer and transfer them over microUSB, load them onto an SD card and slot that in, or use the built in cellular data service bundled with the device. There was no WiFi — only cellular for wireless transfer.

Offering unlimited downloads of books using cellular service was a ground breaking feature at the time and truly innovative. However, as Wifi become widely adopted in public areas and at home, the Kindle’s cellular feature became secondary and is now available on only select devices.

Speakers & Headphones

Amazon, not yet knowing the core use cases for their Kindle devices, wanted to cover the entire reading experience. So like their aspirations to instill writing digital notes while reading, the original Kindle also came with an external speaker and a headphone jack for playing audiobooks.

Listening to books, which is more of a mobile experience, ended up being far more convenient with smaller devices like MP3 players or Smartphones, as you could tuck away the device and so Amazon removed these features too over time.

The original Amazon Kindle was crazy — new ideas often are.

In a world of companies competing to make phones that all look the same, I miss products like these that truly felt innovative. It got a lot of things wrong but it was daring. It was unapologetically strange. It was ambitious with how it wanted to change the world.

I still keep mine on my desk to remind myself that any design I make is a means and not an end. It may not look like it now but my designs today are as crazy and clunky as the Kindle was. My work, like anything meaningful, will require iteration, revision, and future trade-offs.

So, for me, the original Kindle will remain a reminder to stay crazy.