The world’s most prolific search engine is on a mission to help push good journalism forward into the digital age – and get some good press along the way.
Google has been derided in the past as an enemy of conventional news organisations. The search giant aggregates stories and reports from all over the internet to its dedicated News page. A great convenience for users who are looking for all the latest info on a particular topic.
However, Google’s news-sharing system is a slap in the face to original news publishers. From their point of view, Google is profiting (through advertising revenue) from content that it did not create. A put-out Dow Jones executive once labelled Google News a “digital vampire”.
Now, the company has announced that it will donate $5 million to the cause of getting better, more relevant news out into the world wide web. The official line is that Google wants to “encourage innovation in digital journalism” by helping media organisations to improve their online content.
Significantly, a good portion of Google’s cash will go toward grassroots, experimental, and non-profit journalistic initiatives and ideas, both in its native US and overseas. One can only imagine the silent chagrin of Dow Jones.
Playing up its corporate motto, “Don’t be evil”, Google has declared the reasoning behind its generosity: “Journalism is fundamental to a functioning democracy.” Indeed, though of course Google stands to profit in the longterm from promoting the use of its own products, such as YouTube and Google Places, in order to make news content more engaging.
Still, it will be challenging for traditional news executives to come up with a retort to that.