Was an IBM stock buyback really more important to you than its first female CEO?

Google News has a profound impact on the way 'net users consume news; how it does so is rarely clear

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Or the placement might have been because the announcement of the stock buyback and dividend to stockholders hit the wires a few minutes earlier than the announcement that Big Blue promoted Virginia Rometty from senior VP in charge of sales, marketing and strategy to president and CEO, reporting to current CEO Sam Palmisano, who remains chairman of the board.

It may be lingering sexism, though that's unlikely in the genderless algorithm that chooses the "most important" stories for Google.

Or it may have been an understandable bias of the programmers creeping in to the news-judging criteria that would reduce the perceived importance of any announcement involving personages identified in their own press releases using excessively preppy or cute nicknames (Ginni in this case, though "Skip," "Buffy," "Trip" or "Turd Blossom" would also qualify).

By 10 a.m. stories on Rometty's promotion dominated the top spot and the number under the "See All XXXX sources>>" link was growing as the number of available stories increased.

I'm not sure how important the process or criteria by which stories are chosen for the most prominent spots in newspapers, web sites and other news outlets actually are to most readers, though they're among the most frequent sources of complaint from those who measure bias against their own favorite causes according to those indirect criteria.

SEO specialists make analysis of content and placement an obsession, in order to improve their own results by aping positive treatment of others – which must be frustrating when you're parsing results from interconnected networks dominated by one player whose choices are (literally) formulaic and whose formulae change specifically to prevent people like you from gaming their system.

Some news- and content-presentation techniques driven by SEO – endless repetition of keywords that may or may not seem appropriate in a particular story, for example – should be important to readers, if only so they know when they're being fed content chosen for its "importance" by criteria a processor would consider valid and critical, no matter how self-servingly trivial they would seem to a human.

I've worked in the news business for hundreds of years, so these kinds of questions are obviously more important to me than to most (if only in judging how important my own stories seem to other editors).

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