Google has launched its €150m (£109m) European Journalism fund intended to help news publishers throughout Europe develop new digital projects which will push the industry forward.
It is part of its Digital News Initiative announced in April designed to support training, research and innovation in the journalism industry. It has also been viewed as an olive branch to publishers who have widely accused the internet search giant of acting unfairly by distorting search results to promote its own products and services.
The fund will make €50m available annually over the next three years and will be available to all European publishers including start-ups. Grants of up to €1m will be issued twice a year to those chosen by a 13 member council consisting of publishing executives from around Europe, including Telegraph Media Group chief Murdoch MacLennan who is the only UK representative, and three Google staff. In the case of larger projects a vote will be held before issuing approval.
Google divided the funds up into three pools with “early stage” prototype projects being “fast tracked” with up to €50,000 while medium-sized projects which need €300,000 in funding will receive 70 per cent of the money needed from Google. Proposals defined as larger projects will receive 70 per cent of funding up to €1m.
In a blogpost for the launch Google said it was “looking for projects that demonstrate new thinking in the practice of digital journalism; that support the development of new business models, or maybe even change the way users consume digital news”. The statement added that “there is no requirement to use any Google products”.
More than 120 publishers, including the Financial Times and the Guardian, have already signed up to the initiative.
The initiative follows on from a European Union investigating whether Google has abused its 90 per cent market share in search to illegally promote its other products and services which has resulted in anger from publishers over the impact of Google’s use of their content.