Google News is no longer in beta but it is, oddly, forcing "news source" searches on users.
You can do a "source" search by clicking "Advanced news search" and typing the source you want to limit the search to in the "News Source" box, outlined in red below - e.g. CNN or New York Times:
Or you can type "source:Reuters" (or whatever) in the main search box along with your search term:
But what if you don't want to do a search confined to, say, news agency Reuters as the news source? What if, instead, you want to search for news on Google News about Reuters?
Well, I've just noticed that Google News won't let you. It automatically fills in "source:Reuters" (or "+Reuters") if you just type in Reuters as a search term, e.g. if you wanted to check the news reports about the news agency Reuters setting up shop in the Second Life virtual world in late 2006.
If you type in the Google News search box: Reuters "Second Life":
and click Search News, you get this search results page:
In other words, Google News seems to assume that "Reuters" has to be a "news source", rather than the possible subject of any news, and makes it into one whether you like it or not - changing the search to source:Reuters "Second Life" (or +Reuters "Second Life").
Interestingly, it doesn't do this when you search the Google News Archives, where you get this on searching: Reuters "second life"
As you can see, the search results from the archives are from a mix of sources, not exclusively from Reuters itself.
Google News behaves in exactly the same way if you try to use e.g. "CNN" as a search term rather than a news source, e.g. search for CNN shooting and this is the results page, it's been turned into "source:CNN shooting":
I've not tried other searches yet with the names of other news corporations or press agencies, but I wonder why Google decided to do that. What's going on? Is it a bug? Is it deliberate? Did they come to some sort of deal with various news agencies?
It doesn't do it if you search e.g. "Financial Times" or "Times" or "Guardian" or indeed "New York Times" or "Washington Post" (odd that those wouldn't be deemed worthy news sources! Especially as the New York Times is listed as an example news source on the Advanced news search page). But it does change "BBC" to "source:bbc_news". Even more strangely, if you try "Bloomberg", it doesn't change it to source:Bloomberg in the search box, but it does say on the results page (just above the results listings) "Search news source Bloomberg" - yet the results clearly include reports from other sources e.g. the International Herald Tribune:
OK, I've done me share of typing names of random news sources to see what Google News does to them; if anyone else wants to sit there trying different names, feel free - but please let do me know what Google News does or doesn't "convert" into a news source! I can't find anything about this peculiarity in the Google News help or just on generally searching.
So, are we destined never to be able to read news reports on Google News about a news corporation (e.g. any takeover of CNN) - unless they're written by that corporation itself, or enough time has passed that it'll be old archived news?? That's the cynical view, of course...
Hopefully there's nothing Big Brotherly behind this. Sort of a variation on quis custodiet - who then will report on the reporters? How will we be able to find news about the news sources? etc etc. (Yeah, I know, before anyone suggests it: not on Google News!).
But still I think it's interesting quirk, if a little frustrating for the user who wants to search for news about a news source.