Whether they’d do it out of benevolence, fear of regulators, or the quest for a competitive advantage, Google could be of real service to the news industry and the broader cause of journalism. Here’s how.
The late April news was impressive and divisive: Google would spend €150 million on a new Digital News Initiative (DNI) partnership with European news publishers ("Google to launch $150 million partnership with publishers"). The amount of money caught the eye, even if it was a tiny fraction of Google's $14.4 billion profit in 2014. Still, to newspaper publishers now counting every dime, it appeared to be a significant pot of funds. What kind of initiatives might be included in such a "partnership"? Given all the damage, most of it collateral, done to the news industry by digital disruption over many years, was there anything that could be done now to reverse the seemingly permanent spiral downward?
We now have a sense of what's on the horizon — and how significant an impact may be possible. Next week, the eight founding DNI publishers — the Financial Times, The Guardian, Italy's La Stampa, France's Les Echoes, Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine and Zeit, Spain's El País and the Netherlands' NRC — will meet for a couple of days with top Googlers on its Mountain View campus to form the agenda of partnership.