Google is expected to admit to making ‘mistakes’ in its treatment of the media, as it launches a new Digital News Initiative (DNI) for leading newspapers including the UK’s Guardian, The Financial Times and other respected titles across Europe.
The new fund, set up to support and “promote innovation in digital journalism”, arrives as the EU investigates Google for exploiting its search dominance and monopoly in the online sphere.
Carlo D’Asaro Biondo, Google’s head of European strategic partnerships, is to provide a statement today at the FT Media Conference in London saying:
“We recognise that technology companies and news organisations are part of the same information ecosystem and we want to play our part in the common fight to find more sustainable models for news.
“We firmly believe Google has always aimed to be friend and partner to the news industry, but we also accept we’ve made some mistakes along the way.
“We are determined to play our part in ongoing dialogue and business partnership with the aim of building something more sustainable.”
Google said that the DNI would help to tackle “legitimate questions about how high-quality journalism can be sustained in the digital age.”
Eight publishers will join Google as the founding members of the initiative, including Spanish El Pais, and Germany’s Die Zeit. The network will encourage collaboration between the groups, and Google has pledged £107mn to help fund digital projects over the next three years.
The announcement comes shortly after the search giant made the decision to favour mobile-friendly sites, giving them higher ranking in results. It also follows a “Statement of Objections” from the European Commission, stating that it was carrying out investigations into Google over antitrust and competition concerns.
Google continues to deny these claims, stating that its Android model has boosted competition in some areas. “It’s not just Google that has benefited from Android’s success. The Android model has let manufacturers compete on their unique innovations. Developers can reach huge audiences and build strong businesses. And consumers now have unprecedented choice at ever-lower prices,” said Hiroshi Lockheimer, VP of Engineering at Android.
The news scheme, which will focus on three key areas – product development, supporting innovation, and training and research, – will include supporting staff in London, Paris and Hamburg to improve their digital skills, as well as investing in training partnerships with journalism bodies such as the European Journalism Centre (EJC).
Biondo will also add: “Through the Digital News Initiative, Google will work hand in hand with news publishers and journalism organisations to help develop more sustainable models for news. This is just the beginning and we invite others to join us.”