The technology giant announced the launch as part of a package of support focused on local news in the United States. It said that the Google News Initiative is launching new partnerships with five news associations to “provide financial grants and training to nearly 1,000 local publications”.
The Google News Showcase project is said to be worth $1bn to publishers around the world over three years and sees the search giant pay to aggregate headlines in a new section of its platform.
The timing of Thursday’s announcement is notable because it coincides with momentum in the US around laws that could force Google and Facebook to pay for news. The California Journalism Preservation Act, which is based on the national Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), is advancing through Sacramento.
The New York Times, notably, was not referenced in Thursday’s press release, despite the publisher having recently signed a multi-million-dollar deal with the company. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the NYT’s deal was worth $100m over three years and did include Showcase.
Press Gazette first reported in 2021 that the US launch of Showcase had been delayed because Google was struggling to sign up news partners.
Google said that 90% of its News Showcase publications are local or regional titles based across 39 states. Partners named in the press release included the Duluth News Tribune, Nola.com/The Times-Picayune, Oaklandside, La Opinion, La Raza and Orlando Weekly.
It appears that Google has so far fallen short of signing up several of America’s largest publishers, including local publishing giant Gannett. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Gannett had rejected an offer of $6m a year to sign up to Showcase, making a counter-offer of $300m a year.
Google first launched the News Showcase aggregation platform in several countries in 2020. One year after launch, a Press Gazette investigation raised questions about Google’s interest in the platform. Evidence from publishers, shared with Press Gazette, suggested that Google was using Showcase payments to placate publishers in countries where legislation was threatening to force them to pay for news. As a result, for example, it appeared that Google had offered more generous deals to publishers in Australia – which passed its News Media Bargaining Code in 2021 – than news companies elsewhere.
In addition to the News Initiative and News Showcase funding, Google also announced the launch of Reader Revenue Manager, a suite of tools that are designed to help publishers monetise their content. It will be available in the US, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru.
The five partnering US associations referenced in Thursday’s press release were the Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION), the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP), Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) & Institute for Nonprofit News (INN).
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