Google, apparently prodded by the ground covered by twitter news, has introduced a feature on its Google News search results that indicates what one might call the ‘heat’ of a story—how many sources are covering it over time:
As with Google Search Trends, the stories below the chart are linked to the graph via letters (although one can’t click on the letters.)
The chart appears to the right of any news search:
I think it’s clever, and a good way of merging two different Google services (and a third: the images in the bottom right hand corner.)
A note at the bottom explains the placement of stories on the graph:
The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program.
The time or date displayed (including in the Timeline of Articles feature) reflects when an article was added to or updated in Google News.
The example above, concerning phone tapping in the UK, indicates that things have quietened down a bit, although that could have more to do with it being a weekend than anything else.
I would imagine this kind of thing would be useful, too, for news organisations to let readers navigate big stories. The sheer number of stories on one particular issue make it hard for users to find the most relevant ones, or to be able to see where that story sits in their coverage timeline.