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.
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