Google donates US$5m to drive future of digital journalism

26 Oct 2010

Internet giant Google is donating US$5m towards innovative not-for-profit journalism projects aimed at finding new ways of presenting news and enabling publishers to generate more revenue.

“Journalism is fundamental to a functioning democracy,” said Nikesh Arora, president of Global Sales Operations and Business Development at Google.

“So as media organisations globally continue to broaden their presence online, we’re eager to play our part on the technology side — experimenting with new ways of presenting news online; providing tools like Google Maps and YouTube Direct to make websites more engaging for readers; and investing heavily in our digital platforms to enable publishers to generate more revenue,” Arora said in the company blog.

Google has granted $2m to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which has a proven track record of supporting programs that drive innovation in journalism. It will use US$1m to support US grant-making in this crucial area.

The other US$1m will augment the Knight News Challenge, which is accepting funding proposals from anyone, anywhere in the world, until 1 December. Now in its fifth year, the News Challenge has supported projects like DocumentCloud, which aims to bring more investigative-reporting source material online so anyone can find and read it.

“But while we’re mostly focused on working with news organisations to develop better products for users, we also believe it’s crucial to encourage innovation at the grassroots level. That’s why we’re giving US$5m in grants to non-profit organisations that are working to develop new approaches to journalism in the digital age. Our aim is to benefit news publishers of all sizes.

“We’re eager to do even more internationally, so we will be investing the remaining US$3m in journalism projects in other countries through a similar partnership. Stay tuned for more details early next year.

“We hope these grants will help new ideas blossom and encourage experimentation. As Thomas Edison once said, ‘When there’s no experimenting, there’s no progress. Stop experimenting and you go backward.’ We look forward to working with the journalism community to help digital news move forward,” Arora said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years