Google Pours $55.5M Into Journalism

Seattle, USA - Aug 19, 2019: The new Google building in the south lake union area at twilight.

Google has given news publishers around the world more than $US39.5 million ($55.5 million) since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The funding has been distributed across 5,600 in 115 countries as part of the Google News Initiative Journalism Emergency Relied Fund (JERF).

$US6.4 million ($9 million) of this funding has been put into APAC newsrooms.

“When COVID-19 was turning the world upside down, we didn’t know what to expect,” said Google News Initiative Innovation head Ludovic Blecher.

“The intent was simple: help address a very real need from local publishers and news sites globally that are facing financial hardship as a result of the economic and advertising downturn.”

Blecher also revealed Google had received 12,000 applications for the fund.

And while Google has been able to help these publishers during these troubling times, Blecher explained how the fund has highlighted the news publishing industry’s dependence on advertising revenue.

Half of the 5,600 JERF recipients claimed to be totally dependent on advertising, while less than 30 per cent use a paywall to generate revenue.

However, more than half (60 per cent) of the recipients are planning to introduce ways to diversify their revenue streams in the future, including subscription models, membership or contribution models.

Around 20 per cent of publishers also said they are prioritising cultural chance and a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Last month Google announced a new licensing program with Australian publishers Schwartz Media, Private Media (publisher of Crikey) and Solstice Media, with Australian Community Media expected to be included in the agreement soon.

The agreement will see each of the publishers paid by Google for news content.

It comes as the ACCC prepares the news media bargaining code, which is expected to see the likes of Google and Facebook forced to pay for news content.

A draft of the code is due to be released for public consultation by the end of the month.


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