Google throws $1 billion at the news media problem

Its new Google News Showcase will start rolling out in Germany and Brazil from Thursday, but will initially only be on Android.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Google has announced an initial $1 billion commitment that will be used to build partnerships with news publishers and invest in the "future of news".

The first initiative is Google News Showcase, pitched by the company as a new product that will benefit both publishers and readers.

In a blog post penned by CEO Sundar Pichai, the platform was explained as paying publishers to "create and curate high-quality content for a different kind of online news experience".

"It features the editorial curation of award-winning newsrooms to give readers more insight on the stories that matter, and in the process, helps publishers develop deeper relationships with their audiences," he said.

News Showcase is made up of story panels. Pichai said these panels would give participating publishers the ability to package the stories that appear within Google's news products, "providing deeper storytelling and more context through features like timelines, bullets and related articles". Other components like video, audio, and daily briefings are also in the pipeline.

"This approach is distinct from our other news products because it leans on the editorial choices individual publishers make about which stories to show readers and how to present them," he said.

It will be available initially only to Android users, with the product to launch soon on Google News on iOS, and on Google Discover and Search in the future.

Google News Showcase will start rolling out in Germany and Brazil from Thursday, with other countries to receive the offering "over time". The search giant has signed partnerships for News Showcase with nearly 200 publications across Germany, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Argentina.

Google has been in a battle with Australia's consumer watchdog over the country's new media bargaining code as late, which aims to address the fundamental bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and major digital platforms.

The search giant previously labelled the code as "unfair", saying the code puts the "way Aussies' search at risk".

In an open letter, Google said the proposed law, the News Media Bargaining Code, would force it to provide users with a "dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube", which could lead to data being handed over to "big news businesses, and would put the free services you use at risk in Australia".

Also taking issue with the code is Facebook, which has threatened to completely pull news from its platform in Australia.


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