Google today formally opened applications for its new Digital News Initiative, designed to support high-quality journalism in Europe through technology and innovation. In addition to previously announced partners such as El Pais, the Guardian and the FT, Google has also launched a $167 million fund to encourage and financially support fresh thinking in the practice of digital journalism. The fund will be overseen by former Liberation.fr exec and Nieman Fellow Ludovic Blecher.
“We’re 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,” Google said in a post. “There is no requirement to use any Google products.”
The fund will run for three years and offers grants of up to $1.2 million to news European news orgs, both established and startups. The journalism industry has struggled to adapt to the digital revolution with the decline in print journalism. Consolidation is the order of the day as outlets experiment with different revenue models to attract both eyeballs and income. Axel Springer, for example, recently offered $343 million for a majority stake in the website Business Insider. Google, itself, has come in for criticism from a number of media players, most vocally Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, for not having done more to protect the economic supply chain of content and allowing readers to access premium content for free.