Human (!) Editors Start Creeping Into Google News

Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is asking select publications to suggest stories which are then promoted as “editors’ picks” on the front page of Google News. The move, which Google describes as a “test,” is similar in some ways to the “curators of the month” program on YouTube, which features video playlists made by either individuals or publications.

But it also could point to a bigger shift at Google News. After all, the site established itself as an automatic aggregator of new stories, which — like Google search — used algorithms, not people, to make placement decisions.

A Google News spokesman tells us the company runs experiments “all the time” and “sometimes experiments turn into features and products, sometimes they don’t.”

But “editors’ picks” comes as there is increasing buzz that a big Google News redesign may be on the way. Just today, SearchEngineLand spotted a new, more blog-like layout for Google News, which included the option to share stories on social networking sites and also had some new personalization features. Seems possible that “editors’ picks” could be rolled out more broadly at the same time.

Then again, it’s worth noting that three years ago Google News made another big move away from its automatic aggregation roots, allowing people quoted in news stories to comment on them. That experiment never took off, however, and it was pulled last summer.