The new Google News service is certainly kicking up some dirt. Media analysts everywhere seem enthralled by the fact that Google News uses no human editors to serve up its links, with the natural--hyperbolic, of course--conclusion that this will "forever" change the way people access news.
In a word: no.
Coming from a news junkie, the service as it now stands--and I realize it's still in beta--is not very impressive. The layout isn't particularly reader-friendly to me: it's somewhat cramped and generally unappealing for eye-browsing. Aside from that, I've yet to see much compelling news placement. It seems like a big chunk of the news that's pulled comes from international (UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand) sources. That's not necessarily bad, but it's ridiculous when the latest, say, NFL or NHL news comes via London's Guardian. Whatever programming algorithm they're using really needs some work, if it's able to be tweaked correctly at all. It doesn't convince me at all that human editors are about to lose their jobs; even less so for reporters (which should be obvious, but to most of the masses, isn't).
Frankly, like many things Google, this is something that's much less than the hype would have you believe. They must have a fantastic PR machine, because everyone just gushes every time this company does even the most routine thing. For the record, I think the Google search engine is an above-average utility, but by no means the best; for that to be true, it would have to handle basic things like phrases, which it doesn't do very well. And there's a big difference between "relevance" and accuracy; we've already seen how relevance can be manipulated to the point where it's meaningless. Keep in mind this is coming from someone who spends large portions of his workdays doing extensive research on a variety of subjects.
The image search is alright, although like any keyword-based search, it's probably never going to be a perfect beast.