Google announced a new partnership with several publishers today. The company will create a â‚¬150M fund to support innovation in journalism and product developmentÂ in Europe. It’s called The Digital News Initiative.
The company launched a $5M fundÂ with similar goals in 2010 through a partnership with the Knight Foundation in the US and later with the International Press Institute in Europe.
I’m a huge fan of this idea. ContributoriaÂ (anÂ open journalism network) andÂ SwarmizeÂ (a data journalism platform) wouldn’t exist today without it.
It’s certainly easy to be cynical about a companyÂ like Google fundingÂ new development with partnersÂ in a market that they often battle…
Note to EU publishers. Start charting your own future instead of forcing Google to pay for it. We need a strong EU, not a subsidized one.
— Thomas Baekdal (@baekdal) April 27, 2015
Guess â‚¬60 million Google bribed Euro newspapers with in 2013 wasn't enough http://t.co/7808qwnS2r so â‚¬150 mil more! http://t.co/9DRvhMEHpw
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) April 28, 2015
And itÂ could easily feel likeÂ a diversion from what really matters…
European papers are signing a deal with Google, but are they focusing on the right enemy? http://t.co/ZHH66mX0aA pic.twitter.com/KHVqbQzDis
— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) April 27, 2015
But I think it’s great news all the same.
This kind of opportunity helps organizations not only to think differently, it helps them to actually act on those ideas.
Innovation around the edges of your business is critical, and many publishers are learning from places like the Guardian and NYT how to do that more effectively. But unless you have a way of taking on much larger systemic issues, reinventing your own coreÂ activities and supportingÂ failures which will happen now and again as part of the process you may find yourself changing only incrementally and watching the world go by without you.
You will ultimately be managing decline instead of focusing on producing great journalism.
This is not good for publishers large and small. It’s not good for publishing as a market. It’s not good for wider society.
And, as Google and even Facebook are aware, a healthy publishing market is good for business on the Internet.
I’m always a fan of finding ways to create opportunity in the face of adversity. Given the challenges journalism is up against in the world investingÂ inÂ new ideas is going to do a lot more for the tradeÂ than costly and destructive legal battles.