Google News today announced it is rolling out a new layout with new features designed to bring readers a more personalized, local and social news experience. While still highlighting top stories and adding a list of trending topics similar to Twitter's, Google is now giving the reader additional customization options and adding a section for local news and weather, among other features. As Megan Garber at The Neiman Journalism Lab puts it: "The new site is trying to balance two major, and often conflicting, goals of news consumption: personalization and serendipity."
The new "News for you" section is an enhanced version of the old "Recommended" section, giving readers the ability to rank both topics and sources up and down, and add additional topics to their news stream. By allowing users to exclude topics and sources they don't want to read about, they're free to create personal "info bubbles" of their own design.
In order to keep readers abreast of the world outside their custom bubble, Google has added the "trending topics" section (something that's been showing up in the wild since February) and is keeping the "Top Stories" section at the top of the center column. Google is also giving its "Spotlight" section, dedicated to in-depth stories and longer lasting stories, a more prominent spot on the right column.
Local news and weather features are being added to the right column, rounding out the personalization of service.
A new "sharing button" is being added to each story to enable easy sharing via Buzz, Reader, Facebook or Twitter, and presumably to mine more data to better personalize the "News for You" section.
News is a key part of Google's ongoing strategy. Recently, rumor circulated that Google approaching news outlets about a micropayment system for content. In May, Atlantic Monthly ran an extensive article by James Fallows on Google's ambitions towards saving the news industry.