Google unveils plans to boost news subscriptions and combat fake news

Google News Initiative

Google says it is committing $300 million over the next three years to help “strengthen quality journalism.”

On Tuesday, the search company is announcing several new tools and partnerships with newsrooms, all placed under an umbrella called the Google News Initiative.

Google is holding a press briefing in New York to promote the new efforts.

The most significant part might be a new service called Subscribe with Google. In a press release, the company called it “a way for people to easily subscribe to various news outlets, helping publishers engage readers across Google and the web.”

Subscription revenue is a top priority for many publishers — in part because tech giants like Google have a tight grip on the digital advertising marketplace.

Google and Facebook are often depicted as a “digital duopoly” because they capture more than half of U.S. digital ad spending.

With that as the backdrop, both companies have been trying to portray themselves as friends, not foes, of cash-strapped media companies. Facebook has a subscription-boosting initiative underway as well.

Philipp Schindler, the company’s chief business officer, pointed out in Tuesday’s announcement that Google has been collaborating with media companies for 15 years. The company has made numerous investments to help newsrooms.

“We invested a lot time and energy in these collaborations,” Schindler said. “But the hard truth is — all of this might not be enough. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish what’s true and what’s not online. Business models for journalism continue to change drastically. The rapid evolution of technology is challenging all institutions, including the news industry — to keep pace. We need to do more.”

One of Tuesday’s other announcements involved a Disinfo Lab “to combat mis- and disinformation during elections and breaking news moments.”

Google also announced a digital literacy curriculum called MediaWise — a partnership with the Poynter Institute, Stanford University, and the Local Media Association — to help young news consumers “distinguish fact from fiction online.”

CNNMoney (New York) First published March 20, 2018: 11:01 AM ET

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