A couple weeks ago, Google announced Google News badges. Since then, there has been tremendous confusion about the badges.
The ongoing Google News Help thread has dozens of people asking why their badges don't show up. People are asking how the news badges are unlocked and how you share them. It does not seem that clear for many.
Because of the confusion, Harvey from Google clarified that the early badge you see in your Google News Badge section is a placeholder badge. It is a gray badge to kind of tease you to earn the bronze badges, to tease you to earn more badges.
Harvey from Google made to points of clarification:
- When you first get started with Google News Badges you'll see a sample badge that appears in gray. This is a placeholder until you earn some actual badges. When you receive a Bronze level badge, you've achieved your first actual badge.
- There seems to be some confusion about whether or not opening up a story in a new tab will count towards your badges. To make sure these stories are counted, make sure your Google News settings are set to automatically open stories in a new tab. You can find instructions to make this change at the link below.
Also, it appears that reading Google News through RSS or Google Alerts do not count for badges.
Forum discussion at Google News Help.