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Google Newswire could have negative effect on station Web sites

The Web sites of broadcasters and newspapers may soon experience a drop in online visitors as Google News stops redirecting consumer traffic to the origins of top news stories.

Last month, Google made arrangements with four news agencies — the Associated Press, the Canadian Press, the Press Association and Agence France-Presse — to supply full news feeds to the Google News site. Previously, Google News carried only a headline and a short story summary with links to the original publisher’s Web site for the full story.

Now, Google will carry the full story from the four agencies and drop the search findings and links to other news organizations that run the duplicate story. It will be the first time that Google has carried complete news stories on its own site.

To the end user, changes in Google News are subtle. It just won’t be necessary to leave the Google site to read a story or view images from the Associated Press or one of the other agencies. Google also said it isn’t altering its formula for finding news, so the material from the four services won’t be elevated to a higher status.

However, Google’s action means that news organizations — both broadcast and print — that routinely carry AP wire stories on their sites will lose Google-directed traffic, lowering their readership and affecting the prices they can charge online advertisers.

The change could also turn Google into a competitor for those same ad dollars. Google said it doesn’t have any immediate plans to run ads alongside the news stories or photographs hosted on its site, but wouldn’t rule out that possibility in the future.

The deal came after the four wire services, who do not have their own consumer Web sites, had mounted a legal challenge over Google’s practice, claiming it infringed on their copyrights. The new arrangement is a complete reversal, making Google among the wire services’ best customer.