Google has partnered with Europe’s leading news publishers in a bid to foster innovation in digital journalism and improve digital skills within the sector.
The Digital News Initiative, announced today, aims to encourage cooperation between the technology and news sector to create new products and provide funds for training.
Among Google’s partners in the project are leading news outlets such as The Financial Times and The Guardian and institutions including the European Journalism Centre (EJC).
"The internet offers huge opportunities for the creation and dissemination of great journalism,” said Carlo D'Asaro Biondo, president of Google's strategic relationships in Europe. “But there are also legitimate questions about how high-quality journalism can be sustained in the digital age. 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.”
The Initiative will focus on both the editorial and advertising sides of publishing, helping publishers to create new apps to increase engagement with their audiences, as well as identifying ways for tailoring ads to users based on the content they view.
As part of the initiative, Google will place its staff in Paris, Hamburg and London to work alongside newsroom staff to assist in advancing the journalists' digital skills. It also plans to launch new training partnerships with EJC and other institutions.
"Quality journalism faces entirely new challenges and opportunities in the digital age,” said EJC’s director Wilfried Ruetten. “To preserve and further develop it, it is necessary to enable journalists, newsrooms and publishers to respond adequately.”
The development comes in the wake of Google announcing a change in the way it will handle searches from mobile devices, with the search engine's algorithm having been updated so that it gives higher ranking to sites that automatically optimise for smaller screen mobile devices, and penalising those that do not. Some key web sites, including the BBC, Reddit and Wikipedia, currently fail this mobile-first philosophy.
Google's Initiative announcement also comes less than two weeks after the European Commission sent a "Statement of Objections" to Google, announcing it was investigating the firm over antitrust and competition violations in its search results, claiming Google was promoting its own products in Europe ahead of the competition.
Google has strongly denied the claims, saying it has enhanced competition in some sectors.