Google Will Begin Paying News Publishers

Google today announced that it intends to kickstart paying some publishers for their news. This forms a good part of its new licensing program and comes after it has long resisted calls to take this step.

Google says that the content makes up what it calls a “new news experience” that will be launched later in the year, on the ever-popular duo of Google News and Discover. It also mentioned that it will now occasionally offer users free access to paywalled content by paying for them out if its own pocket.

Brad Bender, the Google VP Product Management for News had some things to say on the new move by Google. In a recently published blog post, he stated that: “This program will help participating publishers monetize their content through an enhanced storytelling experience that lets people go deeper into more complex stories, stay informed and be exposed to a world of different issues and interests.”

According to Google, the new program will start with publishers located in Brazil, Germany, and Australia. It is highly probable that other countries will enjoy the same thing, with Google promising “more to come soon.”

Data released by the Financial Times revealed some of Google’s partners for its new program. This includes such luminaries as Schwartz Media (Australia), Solstice Media, The Conversation, and Der Spiegel (Germany).

Googly-Eyed Maneuvers Anyone?

While Google’s announcement is good news for the most part, it is important to remember where it is coming from. For quite a while more than a few countries have been after the search engine juggernaut, asking it to provide reasonable compensation to publishers whose precious news content it provides links to.

A little while ago Australia came out with plans to compel tech firms like Google to pay something for the free content they have been directly and indirectly making a killing on. Back in April, the French main competition authority just about ordered Google to pay for content it got from publishers in France or else. So, Google’s new program appears to be more like an attempt to gain some favorable press and extricate itself from an uncomfo0rtable situation than an altruistic act.

Google’s new program might have also been inspired by Facebook’s launch of a news tab in the states, with the firm paying select publishers for their content. Curating the stories are human editors rather than an AI and Facebook has so far corralled heavy-hitting publishing partners like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and BuzzFeed. And that is not all, with Facebook rumored to be looking for a way to make their news tab available to audiences in Europe.

There has however been some criticism of such schemes and programs. For one, only select publishers are included and paid, while others are not. For another, the fees being paid are simply not enough. More, the whole arrangement lacks legal structure/backing of any sort, with Google, Facebook, and other tech firms able to add and remove publishers at will, pay them what it wants, and the like.

Der Spiegel on the Beat!

One publishing house at least appears to be ecstatic about what the new arrangement from Google might mean for its future prospect. In an interview published by Google itself, Stefan Ottlitz who is employed as the group managing director of Der Spiegel said that its new partnership with the search engine behemoth “will allow us to curate an experience that will bring our award-winning editorial voice into play, broaden out outreach and provide trusted news in a compelling way across Google products.” 

That’s a pretty nice statement that doesn’t say much, least of all what Google is paying Der Spiegel for all this. Oh well!

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