The Long Bet Foundation, the group that sponsored a five-year wager between blogging evangelist Dave Winer and New York Times executive Martin Nisenholtz over the journalistic value of weblogs vs. the media, announced today that it has declared a winner.
The foundation used the same source I did to pick the top five news stories of 2007 -- a vote by Associated Press editors and news directors -- and reached the same conclusion: Weblogs won.
Adding up page rank winners blogs win 4 to 1. Adding up page rank winners of user submitted content vs. commercial content, user submitted content wins 3-2. If you average page ranks of the NYT (avg rank 56.2) vs. blogs (avg. rank 13.2) Blogs win. If you use an average rank of user submitted content (avg. rank 8.8) vs. commercial (avg. rank 1.8) Commercial news outlets win.
The foundation also took the opportunity to lament the wording of the bet, which made it difficult to determine a winner:
The premise of this bet is excellent, but unfortunately the arguments were quite vague on how to adjudicate the bet. Long Bets encourages bettors to construct arguments that involve the least amount of interpretation possible. Once this bet came up for adjudication we urged both parties to come to their own decision, but they asked Long Bets to be the final arbiter. ...
My unofficial declaration of a winner generated a lot of debate here on Workbench and other blogs. People challenged almost everything -- the language of the bet, the news value of weblogs and the mainstream media, the relevance of Wikipedia and my own judgment -- but there was one player in this drama that nobody questioned.
Everyone accepted as a given that Google's search results would be useful to people looking for news, whether the top-ranked articles came from blogs or the Times.
Revisit the Google search results for AP's top five stories of 2007 as if you're looking for news:
For broad keywords like these, Google's a crappy news-gathering tool in its regular search results. You have much better luck with Google News, but it's not an egalitarian arbiter of news trustworthiness that could settle a bet. Google hand-picks the media sources indexed by that service, favoring mainstream media and excluding blogs.