If Google News is analogous to the print daily newspapers then the new “spotlight” feature is more like a weekly news magazine. Spotlight is an outgrowth of a test of “interesting reads” that a select group of users were exposed to. Here’s what Google says about Spotlight’s function and role:
The Spotlight section of Google News is updated periodically with news and in-depth pieces of lasting value. These stories, which are automatically selected by our computer algorithms, include investigative journalism, opinion pieces, special-interest articles, and other stories of enduring appeal. To access the stories in this section, just click Spotlight on the left side of the page.
The look and feel is the same as the rest of Google News but I think that Google should take some chances here and create a more compelling UX in this area. Google should try and make the section more visually rich and magazine-like since that’s perhaps the operative analogy. If the content is supposed to have “enduring appeal,” why not the experience?
Regardless it will be interesting to see what type of usage and or referral profile develops around Spotlight.