Google on Oct. 26 said it is investing $5 million to prop up grassroots journalism efforts, starting with $2 million to support the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The Knight Foundation, which pumped more than $100 million into media innovation, will use $1 million to support U.S. grant-making for media experimentation.
The other $1 million will be allocated for the Knight News Challenge. The News Challenge supported DocumentCloud, which brings source material from investigative reporting online for anyone to read.
“This is an enormously important vote of confidence by the industry leader. We welcome Google’s support,” said Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibarg??en.
“The free flow of information is essential to a democratic society. Already, more Americans get their information from the Internet than from newspapers. That trend will only intensify, making it imperative for our democracy that we find ways to effectively deliver the news and information people require on the new digital platforms.”
Google said it will invest the remaining $3 million in grassroots journalism projects in other countries through a similar partnership to be revealed later.
“Journalism is fundamental to a functioning democracy,” said Nikesh Arora, president of global sales operations and business development. “So as media organizations globally continue to broaden their presence online, we’re eager to play our part on the technology side.”
Google has done a fair amount of other media experimentation. The company made several changes to Google News this year that drew the ire of loyal users.
Google last year launched Fast Flip and Living Stories to test new visualization formats. Fast Flip was actually appropriated in Google News.
The $5 million investment in nonprofit organizations for grassroots media ventures might be the only media-oriented venture that won’t be viewed with a gimlet eye by media publications.
Rupert Murdoch, his News Corp. and several other publications have been at odds with Google for years, claiming that Google takes their content and piggybacks onto it to pad its online ad coffers.
Google argues that indexing media content helps publishers get more exposure for their work.
Occasionally, the search engine and media players hash out their grievances. Google in August inked a deal with the Associated Press to index fresh content in Google News.