Google today announced a multi-pronged News Initiative, which Chief Business Officer Phillipp Schindler described as a way to tie together all the company’s efforts to work with the journalism industry.
Google says the News Initiative is focused on three broad goals — strengthening quality journalism, supporting different business models and empowering newsrooms through technological innovation. It’s also committing to spend $300 million over the next three years on its various journalism-related projects.
At a New York City press event, Schindler told journalists and other industry attendees, “Our mission is inherently tied to your business.” He acknowledged that this might sound like “big company rhetoric.” To put it less diplomatically, news organizations might not view Google or the other big Internet platforms as allies given their dominance of the online ad business and the role they play in spreading sensationalistic or questionable stories, not to mention misinformation and hoaxes.
However, Schindler said Google has “two clear business incentives” to support high quality journalism.
First, he said Google search “by its very nature depends on the open web and depends on open access to information and that obviously depends on high quality information.” Second, he noted that Google’s DoubleClick ad business is all about splitting revenue with publishers, with $12.6 billion paid out to partners last year.
“The economics are very clear: If you do not grow, we do not grow,” Schindler said.
Again, the initiative sounds like a mix of projects and products old and new, in several different categories. When it comes to strengthening quality journalism, Schindler said Google has already been adjusting its algorithms to highlight “more authoritative sources.” He also announced a partnership with the Harvard Kennedy School’s First Draft to launch something called the Disinfo Lab, which will “use computational tools and journalistic oversight to monitor misinformation during elections.”
And there’s a separate project called MediaWise, a partnership with the Poynter Institute, Stanford University and the Local Media Association to help younger people become more “literate” in their consumption of digital media.
As for business models, Google is launching Subscribe with Google, which will allow readers to sign up for paid subscriptions from partner publishers with a single click. That means that as long as readers are signed in to their Google account, they don’t have to deal with paywalls and logins on the news sites that they’ve already subscribed to.
On the tech front, Google pointed to Accelerated Mobile Pages, its open source format for fast-loading articles, which it’s expanding with a new story format for image-, video- and animation-heavy content. The company is also launching Outline, an open source tool for newsrooms to provide their journalists with secure Internet access by setting up their own VPNs on private servers.
This is a developing story and will be updated as Google’s event continues.