Today we are publishing a paper that draws from our decades-long experience working with news publishers and journalists. It offers some ideas for constructive paths forward to foster the sustainability of the quality journalism that informs and strengthens communities, and elevates the essential stories in our lives. This paper includes possible areas for public policy support, such as incentive structures, innovation programs and projects to share best practices. While this is by no means an exhaustive list of ideas, we are publishing it to contribute to the wider discussion.
Supporting journalism has always been important to Google. As a company whose mission focuses on access to information, and whose success depends in large part on having a diverse open ecosystem of quality information, we are committed to helping find a path to a sustainable future for journalism. It’s why 20 years ago, we built Google News to help connect people to stories that impact their daily lives. We launched the Google News Initiative to support news publishers in their transition to a digital world; we do this through tools, technology and significant financial support for both existing newsrooms and new, diverse online news outlets and projects. More recently, we launched Google News Showcase, through which we pay publishers to create and curate quality content for a new online news experience.
Quality journalism enables communities to learn and share essential information, establish shared, accurate understandings of key public developments, and hold elected officials and institutions to account. And in this information age it has never been more essential for democratic discourse and social well-being. But digitization has challenged the underlying commercial model. That said, ensuring a sustainable, vibrant future for quality journalism needs to be done thoughtfully, and as a collective endeavor.
Sensible public policy can be a key component to addressing these challenges; such policy will work best if it is informed by a robust dialogue among a diverse range of stakeholders including publishers, journalists, policymakers, civil society and the private sector. We must identify the underlying challenges and consider novel solutions.
In the paper we are publishing today, we discuss three foundational proposals that we believe could help inform public policy approaches to supporting the future of quality journalism:
- Convening cross-sector experts to identify focus areas and collaborate on shared solutions;
- Investing in newsroom innovation and experimentation to identify and support sustainable business models; and
- Providing support for legacy institutions as they go through the digital transformation.
There are no easy solutions to the complex set of challenges facing the news industry today, which is why we have been working for years to support legacy newsrooms and new entrants focused on providing local news and quality journalism. The challenge is urgent – and across society we must work together to create sustainable solutions to these issues.
The experiences and lessons we describe in this paper would not have been possible without the valuable input we’ve received from the news partners we have worked with and learned from over the years. While there may be no simple solution, we are eager to listen, learn more and help drive innovation to support a successful public policy approach that results in a vibrant journalism ecosystem.