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Google News Initiative puts $300 million toward saving online journalism

Kerry Flynn

Google's new message: "When journalism succeeds, we all do better." 

That's what Google's VP of news Richard Gingras says in a YouTube video released Tuesday to announce the launch of the Google News Initiative. (Watch it Above.) The project is Google's new effort to fight fake news with what it knows best: technology, in part by providing publishers online tools. Google also hosted a launch event in New York City.

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The Google News Initiative focuses on promoting quality journalism by decreasing misinformation online, allowing publishers access to subscription tools via Google, and releasing tools for security. It comes at a time when trust in news media and social media services like Facebook, Google, and Twitter, is eroding. 

"It will enable new models for sustainable journalism, elevate quality journalism, and ensure technology allows journalists to do their jobs even better," Gingras said in the launch video.  

Sound familiar? Back in January 2017, Facebook launched a similar initiative called the Facebook Journalism Project. While Facebook's initiative was ambitious, there was no clear public roadmap and efforts failed to impress publishers

On the contrary, Google's program already has some products, like AMP Stories and Subscribe with Google, currently in beta. Google has committed $300 million to the News Initiative over the next three years, Google chief business officer Philipp Schindler wrote in the blog post. 

As explained in a press release, the main elements of Google News Initiative include: 

Misinformation

  • The Disinfo Lab, which combats misinformation during elections and breaking news 

  • MediaWise, a partnership with the Poynter Institute, Stanford University, and the Local Media Association to improve digital information literacy for young consumers

Subscriptions

  • Subscribe with Google, which will allow users to subscribe to various news outlets

New Storytelling

  • AMP Stories, a Snapchat Discover-like product that presents full-screen, multimedia-rich reading experiences on the mobile web 

Security 

  • Outline, an open-source tool from Google's Jigsaw that lets companies set up own VPN on a private server 

Google did not release the names of specific launch partners, but the video on YouTube includes the New York Times COO Meredith Kopit Levien, Digital Trinity Mirror editor-in-chief Alison Gow, El País chief digital officer Noemí Ramírez, and Times of India COO of digital news Puneet Gupt. Mashable partnered with Google during the development of AMP Stories. 

"A lot of the solutions with come from the journalism industry and the tech industry working together," Ramirez said in the YouTube video. 

Additional reporting by Michael Nuñez. 

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