“OK, Google: how much is journalistic integrity worth?”
Google: “$300 million.”
At a time when the term “fake news” is bandied about on a daily basis, Google is stepping up to assist journalists in creating and distributing high-quality news pieces that readers can trust. With its recently announced Google News Initiative, the tech giant is committing to spend a total of $300 million over the next three years on projects that will help support news media companies and protect the integrity of journalism in the digital age.
Currently, when you search for information or news articles online, you never really know what you’re going to get. The results come up in a web search and the news pieces that populate your social media feeds can be from dubious sources or may be opinions presented as facts by people who have zero journalistic knowledge.
On the Google News Initiative website, Google asserts that “[t]he future of journalism depends on all of us working together.” As countless other industries have evolved with technological advancements, news outlets seem slow to innovate within their own industry. The Google News Initiative will aim to do just that — innovate — and usher in new ways for journalism to thrive within the digital era, not shrivel and weaken because of it.
One crucial arm of the initiative is the Disinfo Lab, in which Google will partner with media companies to combat the spread of misinformation online, particularly when it comes to breaking news and elections. Another effort to fight the spread of misinformation will be the launch of a media literacy program called MediaWise, designed to “to help consumers distinguish fact from fiction online,” according to Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler.
So, what does this mean for us ordinary internet users in pursuit of trustworthy news we can access quickly?
One new option is the Subscribe With Google product, which allows users to easily subscribe to multiple news outlets, easing the subscription process and getting readers to consume varied news sources more quickly.
Another product, currently in beta, is Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) Stories, a Snapchat-like feature that Google describes as a “mobile-focused format for delivering news and information as visually rich, tap-through stories.”
Ideally, all of these efforts will mean that we can rest easy in the knowledge that we’re not being fed misinformation or even conspiracy theories as news, as Google also plans to tweak to its algorithm so that there is an “emphasis on authoritative results over factors like freshness or relevancy,” according to Google’s VP of News, Richard Gingras.
With any luck, “authoritative results” will become the norm, and “fake news” a thing of the past.
For more information on the Google News Initiative announcement, check out the video below.