Google has just introduced a feature whereby those who are “participants” in a news item pointed to by U.S. Google News may submit a comment on that story. According the Google News Help page, “Participants are people mentioned in a story or related to organizations in a story.”
Comments show up in a news search and are marked with a small speech bubble graphic, thus:
Link to the actual comment
The Google News Blog, announcing the experiment, says that comments will be published in full and without editing.
Clearly this is going to entail some unautomated work to check the identity of the person who sends in a comment and to judge whether the person is sufficiently connected to the story to warrant the right to comment.
Can you imagine setting up a court website or CanLII or an e-Laws site such that lawyers — or, indeed, members of the public — could comment on legislation or decisions directly? Very messy, but interestingly democratic perhaps.