So the algorithm is still king, but it may no longer be an absolute monarchy. Google News is testing Editors’ Picks:
In that sense, EditorsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Picks Ã¢â‚¬â€ currently being run in partnership with less than a dozen news outlets, including The Washington Post, Newsday, Reuters, and Slate Ã¢â‚¬â€ could recreate the didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t-know-youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d-love-it-til-you-loved-it experience of the bundled news product within the broader presentation of Google NewsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ algorithmically curated news items. Serendipity concerns exist even at Google (see Fast Flip, for example); this is one way of replicating the offline experience of serendipity-via-bundling within the sometimes scattered experience of online news consumption.
EditorsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Picks also does what its name suggests: it allows editors to choose which stories they introduce to the Google News audience. (Google confirmed to me the links on display arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t being paid for by the news publishers Ã¢â‚¬â€ that is, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not a sponsored section.) Publishers can choose to promote stories that have done well, traffic-wise, amplifying that success Ã¢â‚¬â€ or they can choose to promote stories that have gotten less traction. Or they can simply choose to promote stories that are funny or important or touching or all of the above Ã¢â‚¬â€ stories that are simply worth reading. The point is, they can choose.