Regulating the “New York Times Algorithm”

The New York Times recently insisted that Google should be regulated because its supersecret algorithm and market dominance required government intervention.  Even more recently, though, Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land reminded the NYT that turnabout is fair play:

The New York Times is the number one newspaper web site. Analysts reckon it ranks first in reach among US opinion leaders. When the New York Times editorial staff tweaks its supersecret algorithm behind what to cover and exactly how to cover a story — as it does hundreds of times a day — it can break a business that is pushed down in coverage or not covered at all.

When the New York Times was a pure newspaper, it was easy to appear agnostic about its editorial coverage, with no reason to play favorites with one business or another. But as the New York Times has branched out, making investments in external companies, it has acquired pecuniary [that means financial, by the way] incentives to favor those over rivals.

Competitors are a click away, but a case is building for some sort of oversight of the gatekeeper of news.