Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is giving new life to “Living Stories,” the format for online news it announced in December. The company is open sourcing the format — which features a summary of recent developments related to a news topic, along with a timeline, on a single page — so that any publisher can adopt it. “Living Stories” previously was only available in Google Labs and featured a limited number of pages created by the NYTimes and Washington Post.
The company had said all along that its intention was to eventually make “Living Stories” available to any publisher that wanted to use it — and a spokesman says that Google has heard from “several publishers who saw ‘Living Stories’ on Google Labs and were interested in exploring how they could implement them on their own sites.” He adds that the company has been “very pleased” with the reception to the product, noting that on average users spent nine minutes on each story and that the vast majority of users who filled out feedback forms said that they preferred the “Living Stories” format to traditional online news articles. Google isn’t providing traffic numbers.
It doesn’t look however like Google’s two initial partners are so enthused that they’re rushing to introduce the format on their own sites. Neither will continue to update their existing “Living Stories” on the Google Labs page (Google says that the plan was never to have either publication update their stories on the Google Labs site indefinitely).
Asked about their own plans for the format, Washington Post (NYSE: WPO) Chief Digital Officer Vijay Ravindran said, “We do not plan to host the literal ‘Living Story’ implementation displayed on Google Labs though we look forward to collaborating with Google in the future. Our teams are actively looking at how best to incorporate the best elements of the collaboration into the Post Company websites on an ongoing basis.” As for the NYTCo (NYSE: NYT), a representative said, “We have found the ‘Living Stories’ initiative to be a very useful experiment. While it has initiated a lot of discussion, we have nothing new to announce at this point.”