Searching for “GM Bankruptcy” News

GM is going bankrupt today and like a lot of people I’m searching for info about what’s going on. If you haven’t heard by now, GM is going to announce one of the largest bankruptcies in U.S. history and it will impact just about everyone in one way or another. I’m using this opportunity to compare Microsoft’s new search engine to Google since there will be an extraordinary amount of content published online today about this subject.

It’s 4am here in San Francisco and I’m working way too late/early again. I don’t want to read anything extensive right now, but I do want to catch up on the news as quickly as possible and see what different points of view people have about the GM bankruptcy so far. I like using search engines to read diverse opinions on breaking news because it offers a much richer experience compared to going to a single news source.

My first search term for Bing was “GM Bankruptcy.”

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At the top of the Bing search engine results page there were three irrelevant ads about personal bankruptcy. Another five irrelevant ads were along the right side of the page.  There was a link to “news about gm bankruptcy.”  Beneath this link were three headlines about the bankruptcy from Bloomberg, AOL and Allentown Morning Call. There were no counters, or indicators of the velocity of news articles related to my search term.

The search engine results below the small news section was filled with various news articles, but many were dated and not very useful in this context. For example, there was  a link to a year-old MSNBC story with the headline: “GM bankruptcy unlikely despite tough times.” Obviously, not what I’m looking for.

Clicking through to the full news results was disappointing. At the top of the screen were four videos supposedly related to my search term.I like how the videos on Bing begin playing when you mouse over them, but unfortunately the videos were mostly irrelevant to my search term. The first video was about personal bankruptcy, the second was about President Obama’s hot date with the first lady in New York and the forth was about the White House florist retiring. The third was the only one that was somewhat relevant, but it wasn’t very informative. It was a stale, undated AP video that showed several employees talking about the possibility of a bankruptcy.

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Another problem with the news page for the search term “GM Bankruptcy” was that there were only 142 items. This is earth-shattering news and all Bing can give us is 142 stories? Not that I’ll read 142 stories, but I’d like some diversity. The first page of news results were exclusively from U.S. news outlets.

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Google’s search engine results page for “GM Bankruptcy” was an entirely different experience. Right up top were news results for the search term. The first result was from Bloomberg and there were 12,382 related articles. There were zero ads up top and only one ad on the sidebar, which was actually very relevant to the search term.

Below the news section were several articles that were absolutely relevant to the search term and extremely timely. There was an article from the Associated Press explaining how the government will take a majority ownership in GM. There was a dated Business Week article from 2005 titled “What if GM Did Go Bankrupt.”

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Clicking through tot he news section showed that Google had indexed over 45,000 articles about the GM bankruptcy. While Bing’s news search results were simply listed one after the other, Google’s results were tied together by sub-subjects. At a glance I could see the different angles. Another thing that Google’s smart enough to do is to include the ticker symbols of companies mentioned in the articles and link to the companies’ Google Finance pages. It’s pretty logical that someone searching for “GM bankruptcy” would be interested in seeing how the industry’s stocks are holding up.

I’m sure Microsoft will improve Bing over time, but based on this experience Google will remain my go-to search engine for breaking news. While Bing has some nice eye-candy, the shopping centric interface and irrelevant videos really get in the way of soaking up breaking news. This experience makes me wonder how serious Microsoft is taking news when Bing only displays  .003% of the news items that Google did.

Next time I test Bing I’m going to use it to buy something to see how that experience compares to Google.

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