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Integrating Google+ with online journalism was probably inevitable. So now what?

I'm seeing more than a little upset in the digital journalism world over news that the Google+ profiles of journalists will be tied to their stories in Google News.

I'm not surprised to see the integration. This is the next step in adding a social layer to Google's stated goal of organizing the world's information and making it more useful, in the case by connecting readers to the authors of articles.

If we're going to be surfing on an "Emerald Sea," it would be wise to keep an eye on the horizon for where next waves originate. See +Steven Levy's feature on that count:

Here's the story from Google's +Eric Weigle: "When reporters link their Google profile with their articles, Google News now shows the writer’s name and how many Google+ users have that person in their circles. For the lead article for each story, Google News also shows that reporter’s profile picture and enables readers to add them to their Google+ circles right from the Google News homepage."

Is linking a social profile to search results a negative for journalists? On the whole, I think not. I'm willing to be proven wrong, as always. +Edd Dumbill opened my eyes to the transition ahead of us some time ago in his post about why he thinks Google Plus is the social backbone for the Internet:

I highly recommend reading it and thinking through what else might be tied together beyond journalists and their articles. It could be people and places. Teachers to schools, bartenders to pubs, managers to stores. Or services. Or other makers or creators, like musicians to tracks, filmakers to videos, or photographers to their photos. Coders to their code would be a natural fit for Google.

Of course, Facebook has followed much the same sort of thinking in extending the semantics of its social graph within its network -- and has more than 800 million users at present.

Media now have a choice before them: join Plus to connect profiles with their stories or stay out of the social fray. It will be a different decision than joining Twitter or Facebook was in years past, before it was clear to the general public that social networking would not be a passing fad. There will be more pressure for journalists to join now, given the rewards that will accrue to having your face in Google News and search results.

I chose to tie my profile to my bylines months ago, so that people looking for information would see my face in search results and connect. New readers are now finding me through both social networks (Twitter, Facebook and Plus) and search. Given what I do, it made sense for me.

It will likely not be the right choice for investigative journalists who cover organized crime or government corruption, or for those who operate from conflict zones or under autocratic regimes. For many others, being "discoverable" to their communities, beats and colleagues here is likely to be as professionally relevant here as it is on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

I know, from my conversation on Twitter tonight with
+Mathew Ingram +emily bell and +Kevin Marks that legitimate concerns exists about how Google has proceeded here. For instance, Google News could have given journalists the option to link to a profile on another social network, or to a page on their masthead's website. Instead, Plus is being put forward. We'll all be figuring out how this works together. I look forward to the conversation.
Google News will soon start highlighting journalists’ profiles in Google News. But rather than highlighting the profiles from their primary website/writing venue, Google will be highlighting their Goo...
Dani Fankhauser's profile photoAmy Gahran's profile photoJennifer Gaie Hellum's profile photoCindy Brown's profile photo
Thanks for alerting me to this, Alex. How does one link our profiles with Google News, exactly? Am missing a step here.
Hmm. Now I want to a) write more and b) monkey with it. Wonder what I want to do first... hmm.
+Kate Gardiner I wonder why no one else on the social journalism group is as interested in this as I am. I know Facebook and Twitter are fun and shiny but...
Facebook and twitter are boring and repetitive. Google Plus is harder to manipulate.
+Jessica Binsch I've a more prolific user of Twitter but find that Google+ offers much richer, permanent conversations, particuarly around embedded media. Both have their place in my life.
haha. yes, that too. meanwhile in "don't have a brand page land..."
I think the fact that you used Twitter s to discuss changes on Google+ says everything about how far the network has to go before it becomes this kind of "connective backbone" or resource in the journalism community.
+Matthew Hurst Your opinion is always welcome, but it's also worth observing that we are discussing it here, as are others like +Kathy Gill and +Kee Hinckley. Part of good journalism is about looking at what's next and what it means, not what's now. Social networks like Facebook and Google+ aren't just about the networks themselves providing a "resource" or acting as connector within the platform. They add connections far out into the Internet, which will have significant consequences.
Thanks Alexander,
As a fellow early-adopter myself, I couldn't have put it better myself. Those who wait for "best practices" to be established miss out on new ideas by focusing on the status quo, rather than being innovative and embracing the new medium. I've said it before: "the best way to understand new media is to try it for yourself" and the public benefits when authors like yourself test these tools. Not to mention the benefit for all by opening up the conversation for reader input (and potential ideas and leads)
It certainly will contribute to journalists' personal brands. ducks flying newspaper thrown by Gene Weingarten I haven't spent much time on G+, but as someone who blogs about journalists and branding , I'll pay more attention to it now.
You just want to be careful about what email address you tie all this in together with.  Should it ever happen that Google suspends your G+ account, that will hose your entire google ecology based on the email address that G+ account was linked to, including the email address until things are resolved.  So you may want to set up something that forwards to your real email address to protect the latter.
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