Google supports journalism

Google which has been blamed by some old media proprietors for destroying newspapers is now donating US$5 million to support journalism initiatives around the world. Hopefully some of this will find its way to citizen journalism.

Of course Google hasn’t really killed any newspapers. Where newspapers have closed overseas is because they did not attract readers.

Google, is many things, but is mainly a search engine and merely takes teaser text and aggregates it, so that you can easily find news articles and links to those article on the news source it is on. And by so doing actually drives users to newspaper or other news media websites.

What will kill newspapers online and in paper is continuing to try and use old and now failed business models.

The paywall erected by News Corp for The Times and Sunday Times Online (and other titles) was an attempt to move away from the free culture of the web. News Corp won’t say how many subscribers they now have to their newspapers but estimates say their readership figures have dropped by over 88%.

The print subscribers to these newspapers also get access to the online version, so they would make up a significant proportion of the readership. Otherwise institutional subscribers (which would have a large number of readers at work for whom the newspapers are seemingly free) would most likely make up the rest of the readership. Whether this is a sustainable model we are still yet to see.

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