Google Partnering with WordPress to Influence Local Newsrooms

Who will watch the watchers?

Google News Initiative WordPress Fake News

The Google News Initiative (GNI) seeks to assist local newsrooms with aspects ranging from helping streamline operations and improve video content, to helping combat “fake news.” Some worry this is a power move to control content.

With the Google News Initiative (GNI), Google’s official goal is to help make local news sustainable, but it’s reasonable to consider Google’s motives may not be entirely pure.  After all, Google is providing funding to media outlets of its choosing.

In July of 2018, Google solicited proposals for funding via the GNI from media companies, and over 300 companies/organizations submitted proposals.  The funding in question focused on video content creation and improving both the capabilities and quality of said content. Not surprisingly, this particular effort was dubbed GNI YouTube innovation funding.

Google selected and funded 87 projects in 23 countries as a result of this program. The Young Turks, the Economist, and even Fox News made the cut — just to name a few. See the infographic below for a complete list.

Funding Google News Initiative
Companies chosen and funded via the Google News Initiative and YouTube innovation funding

As part of this GNI/YouTube effort, Google is offering, not only funding, but also “expertise” and “support” from partners including Vox Media.  Google even promises to help media outlets with everything from best practices to assisting with day-to-day operations.  The aim of the GNI is much larger than just helping media outlets improve their video content creation capabilities, Google seeks to combat “fake news” across as many outlets as possible.

“Over the past few years, we’ve worked with publishers to elevate accurate, quality content and stem the flow of misinformation and disinformation.”

Obviously, one major question many consumers have is, “Who decides what is news is real and what news is fake?” As others, such as Facebook, makes ever more aggressive moves to combat “fake news” on their platform, many more users will be should be asking themselves the same question. No doubt, GNI will have tools and resources that will genuinely benefit media and news outlets, but as always with any Google initiative, there are other motives as well.

Google’s financial commitment to GNI stands at $300 million over the next 3 years.