Tag Archives: Digital News Initiative

Follow the user – digital news in a digital world

Thanks for that introduction and for having me to speak today.

It’s an honour to be here at the Munich Media Days. The theme of this conference is how the media can find success in this era of digital disruption. And the theme of this talk suggests the answer: “follow the user”.

A lot has already been said at this conference about how today’s users interact with news.

What do we know? They are moving very fast to mobile - two thirds of smartphone users are consuming news on mobile devices. They love video, they love speed. They follow the news through social channels and apps. They really dislike intrusive ads (more on that later!)

That’s a snapshot, but it illustrates the scale of the challenge that you face in imagining the future of news - and that we face too.

News is - and will remain - a hugely important part of the information eco-system. At Google we recognise that. And we want to play our part in building a successful and sustainable relationship between publishers, technology and the user. We want high quality journalism to thrive for the long term.

Today I want to update you on the progress we are making in that three-way relationship.

It was just nine months ago - not too far from here in Davos - that we met with a group of European publishers and agreed to form the Digital News Initiative, or DNI.

The goal was simple: to encourage a more sustainable news ecosystem -- and promote innovation in digital journalism -- by promoting ongoing collaboration and dialogue between the tech and news sectors.

And we agreed at the outset that this would be an open collaboration - everyone involved in Europe’s digital news industry - large or small, established or newcomer - would be welcome to participate.

I’m delighted to say that today we are working together with more than 120 European partners across the news and tech sectors, including many of the most important names in global journalism. Die Zeit, FAZ and Der Spiegel here in Germany, the Guardian, Financial Times, the BBC, The Economist, La Stampa, El Pais, Les Echos, Euronews and many, many others.

But I want to make one thing very clear. Getting involved in the Digital News Initiative is not about buying into Google’s worldview or selling your soul. There are no contracts or conditions. You can choose to get involved in any or all of the elements of the DNI. It’s open to everyone, and it is all about working together.

So, what are we working on together?

Product Development
The DNI has three pillars. The first concerns Product Development. When we asked news publishers what Google could do to help build a more sustainable future for digital journalism, three words dominated their answers. Engineering and Mountain View!

When I announced the Digital News Initiative back in April, the publishers were cautious - perhaps rightly so. They wanted to see commitment to the project from the highest levels at Google. Let me quote from an article that Tony Danker, Chief Strategy Officer at the Guardian, wrote at the time:

“Can today’s initiative be a genuine partnership between Google and journalism, and thereby a tide to lift all boats? This would require Google’s leadership to see both mission and method here and to realise the real benefits for users. It would see them deploy their best engineering brains to want to fix the problem. It would result in fresh thinking within the product and engineering organisation at Google...It would see this thinking and this partnership spread globally. In short, it would mean more work in Mountain View than Brussels.”

Quite a challenge. But I firmly believe we are delivering upon it.

Over the past 6 months we have engaged in detailed discussions between publishers and Google’s best engineering and product minds to rethink the way users consume and interact with news and technology in this mobile age. The commitment goes right to the very top of Google - our new chief executive Sundar Pichai is closely involved in the project.

Two weeks ago we saw the first fruits of this collaboration when we announced a new initiative called Accelerated Mobile Pages, which aims to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web.

The essence of this project is speed and openness. Today, users are increasingly consuming their news on the mobile web. But every time a mobile web page takes too long to load, potential readers will abandon it and publishers lose the opportunity to earn revenue through advertising or subscriptions.

The AMP project aims to make loading lightning fast. Under its open source framework, publishers will be able to build light-weight web pages which will still include rich content like video, graphics and ads, but will load instantly. The same code will work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant, no matter what type of phone or tablet you’re using.

And publishers will remain in control of their content and advertising. Publishers will continue to host their own web pages and will be able keep their choice of ad networks. It’s also a key aim of the project to support subscriptions and paywalls.

Although the conversations that led to this project started in Europe, we are pleased to have started this open-source initiative with more than 30 partners globally - including publishers like the New York Times and NewsCorp, technology platforms like Twitter and Pinterest, analytics partners like Adobe and Chartbeat, and pure digital players like Vox and Buzzfeed.

We’re just at the beginning of an exciting journey, but we expect AMPs to be live in Google Search in early 2016, and you can try out a demo right now on your phone or tablet.

Just type g.co/ampdemo into your mobile browser

You’ll see a Google Search page and then type in a popular news query like Syria or the name of one of the publications involved in the trial, for example the FAZ. You’ll see it’s very fast, that means more traffic and more opportunities for monetisation. Most importantly, it offers a great experience for the user.

The AMP project is about ensuring that the World Wide Web remains fast, vibrant and compelling. And in doing so, to ensure that publishers - large and small - can have their content presented Instantly Everywhere, without having to pursue a deal with proprietary platforms.

We’ve been thrilled at the reaction we’ve had so far - we’ve had expressions of interest from hundreds of publishers and platforms around the world - and we invite others to get involved.

But don’t get too engrossed in the demo - I’ve got plenty more to tell you about!

The AMP project is just one element of a much broader conversation with publishers across a range of areas - mobile, video, monetisation and data. Some developments will be small and incremental, others we hope can be transformative. The point is that these decisions are no longer being made in a vacuum, but as a result of consultation and collaboration with news publishers.

We’re excited about the opportunities and we’ll have more to announce very soon.

Training and research
The second pillar of the DNI relates to training and research. A phrase we use very often at Google is: focus on the user and all else will follow. And of course news editors put great emphasis on a similar phrase - know your reader.

But today, simply understanding - either through gut instinct or metrics - what your readers or viewers are interested in is only half the battle. The evolution of the technology means that the way users consume, interact with and share news content has become central to the process. Journalism - and the technology that delivers the journalism to users - are two sides of the same coin.

In our conversations with publishers we’ve heard there is a great appetite in newsrooms to learn how to make the most of digital tools for journalism. And through our newly established News Lab team we have already run training sessions for more than two thousand journalists across Europe, with newsroom visits, conferences, workshops and more.

In the course of those sessions we got great feedback from newsrooms on how we can make our tools for journalists more useful. One example is Google Search Trends, which allows journalists to see what readers in their country or region are searching for. The feedback we had from newsrooms was: “that’s great, but for the purpose of journalism it really needs to be up to the minute.”

So, after consultation with dozens of journalists, in June we launched real time Search Trends - and many newsrooms are now using those insights to shape and inform their journalism.

And because we’d like this kind of collaboration to go deeper, we have for the first time hired a dedicated team to work with newsrooms in Europe.

Allow me to introduce our newest News Lab recruit - Isa Sonnenfeld - who many of you will already know from her work with Twitter. Stand up Isa!

Isa will be based here in Germany in Berlin, partnering with journalism organisations such as the European Journalism Centre, the Global Editors Network and the International News Media Association to create training programmes and tools tailored to the needs of newsrooms.

Isa will be here throughout the day and would love to catch up with you in one of the breaks.

We also believe that research and measurement are vital to the future of the European news ecosystem. In order to follow the user it is very important to know what the user is doing, how his and her habits are changing. So we have been supporting the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in its effort to produce the Digital News Report, which has quickly become the most authoritative guide to the fast changing patterns of news consumption.

Before the Reuters Institute launched the first Digital News report in 2012, much of this essential data simply didn’t exist. I’m delighted that as a result of our support the Reuters Institute has today added a further six countries to their survey - Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Turkey, Poland and Portugal - bringing the number of countries covered to twenty.

Innovation Fund launching today
The third pillar of the Digital News Initiative is the Innovation Fund. Earlier this year we announced that Google will make 150 million euros available over the next three years to support innovation in digital journalism in Europe. I’m pleased to announce that the fund OPENS TODAY for applications.

News organisations innovate every day - they start with a blank canvas and they fill it with compelling content. News is by definition innovation.

But because the machinery of getting your product out every day is complicated, it’s very hard to find the time and resources to experiment with new approaches to journalism and production.

The DNI Innovation Fund aims to tackle that problem by providing non-refundable support for projects that demonstrate new thinking in the practice of digital journalism, that promote the development of new business models or maybe even change the way users consume digital news.

The Fund is open to established publishers, online-only players, news start-ups, collaborative partnerships and individuals based in Europe. We’re looking for applications for both large and small projects. There is a Prototype track, which is open to everyone, including individuals established in the EU or EFTA, which will offer funding of up to €50.000 per project. And companies and organizations can also submit larger projects, requiring up to €1 million of funding. Projects can focus on your organisation specifically, or be collaborative with other industry players.

If you want to apply to the Innovation Fund, you can find all the details on our website digitalnewsinitiave.com. We will make the first funds available early in the new year.

The process will be inclusive and transparent, overseen by a Council including leading players in European journalism. And let me add that there is no tie-in with any of Google’s products.

Why are we launching an Innovation Fund? It comes back to the feedback we’ve had in our many conversations with publishers. The DNI is all about collaboration and engagement - and as I have described, we think there is much that Google can do to help build a more sustainable future for journalism. But no--one has all the answers, and maybe there are solutions out there that no-one has thought of yet. The fund aims to stimulate that new thinking.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t say a word about the issue that every publisher is currently talking about - Ad blockers.

Ads are important - they have funded the news media for centuries and they fund the majority of the web today. The EU online advertising market grew to 30 billion euros in 2014. That is money that funds journalism, provides jobs and keeps internet services diverse and accessible.

But ad blockers are growing because consumers are having a bad experience with ads - people hate bad ads: ads that are intrusive, video ads that interrupt, ads that won’t get out of the way and block the content you are trying to enjoy.

We agree - consumers deserve a better ad experience. We - like many other good actors - work to remove the worst offenders. And we work on better alternatives - seamless and useful search ads and skippable ads on YouTube.

The problem is that Ad blockers that block all ads are throwing the baby out with the bathwater, threatening the livelihood of good content creators who are trying to do the right thing.

We need to find a solution -- and fast. We need to work together to create a standard for better ads online. A standard that addresses the bad ad experience that consumers are exposed to. A standard that in time will persuade consumers that they no longer need to use ad blockers.

We are committed to finding a solution that aligns the interests of advertisers, content creators and consumers, and allows readers to continue enjoying great content.

Partnership is better than dispute
The experience of the past year makes me optimistic we can do it. If you had told me twelve months ago that Google would be working together with more than 100 publishers in Europe to build a better web and a more sustainable future for the news industry I think I would have said you were dreaming.

We still have a long way to go, but I am convinced we have proven to each other - and to everyone else - that working together is much more effective than the alternatives.

Partnership is better than dispute. In a fast changing world, technology solutions are better than regulation. Making friends is so much better than making enemies.

Let’s keep going!

Thank you.

Digital News Initiative: €150m Innovation Fund now open

In April, we launched the Digital News Initiative, a partnership with eleven European news organisations to support high quality journalism through technology and innovation. The initiative is open to anyone involved in Europe’s digital news industry, large or small, established or newcomer, and since launch, more than 120 organisations have signed up to participate. Today, we’re excited to open up the DNI Innovation Fund for applications, and we hope that many more people will get involved.

The ambition and intent of the Fund is bold: to spark new thinking, which could come from anywhere in the news ecosystem, to give news organisations - of all sizes - the space to try some new things. We’ve set aside up to €150 million for that purpose, which we’ll make available in the form of no-strings-attached awards over the next three years.

There will be at least two application rounds per year. The first one starts today, and finishes on December 4th. The next one will begin in Spring 2016 and details will be announced via the Digital News Initiative website.

Here’s a quick rundown of how the Fund works.

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. Projects can be highly experimental, but must have well-defined goals and have a significant digital component. There is no requirement to use any Google products. Successful projects will show innovation and have a positive impact on the production of original digital journalism and on the future sustainability of the news business.

The Fund is open to established publishers, online-only players, news start-ups, collaborative partnerships and individuals based in the EU and EFTA countries.

There are three categories of funding available:

  • Prototype projects: open to organisations - and to individuals - that meet the eligibility criteria, and require up to €50k of funding. These projects should be very early stage, with ideas yet to be designed and assumptions yet to be tested. We will fast-track such projects and will fund 100% of the total cost.
  • Medium projects: open to organisations that meet the eligibility criteria and require up to €300k of funding. We will accept funding requests up to 70% of the total cost of the project.
  • Large projects: open to organisations that meet the eligibility criteria and require more than €300k of funding. We will accept funding requests up to 70% of the total cost of the project. Funding is capped at €1 million.

Exceptions to the €1 million cap are possible for large projects that are collaborative (e.g., international, sector-wide, involving multiple organisations) or that significantly benefit the broad news ecosystem.

How to apply
Visit the Digital News Initiative website for full details, including eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, and application forms. Applications must be made in English and the submission deadline for the first round of funding is 4th December 2015.

We’ve consulted widely to ensure that the Fund has inclusive and transparent application and selection processes. Confidentiality is critical; applicants should not share business-sensitive or highly confidential information. Full details can be found on the DNI website.

Initial selection of projects will be done by a Project team, composed of a mix of experienced industry figures and Google staff, who will review all applications for eligibility, innovation and impact. They’ll make recommendations on funding for Prototype and Medium projects to the Fund’s Council, which will have oversight of the Fund’s selection process. The Council will vote on Large projects.

Council members:
  • Joao Palmeiro, President of the Portuguese publishers association and Chair of the DNI Innovation Fund Council
  • Alexander Asseily, Founder & CEO of State, Founder of Jawbone
  • Arianna Ciccone, Co-Founder and Director of the Perugia International Journalism Festival
  • Bartosz Hojka, CEO of Agora S.A.
  • Katharina Borchert, CEO Spiegel Online
  • Veit Dengler, CEO, Neue Zürcher Zeitung
  • Rosalia Lloret, Head of Institutional Relations, Online Publishers’ Association Europe
  • Bruno Patino, Dean of Sciences-Po Journalism School
  • Murdoch MacLennan, CEO of the Telegraph Media Group
  • Madhav Chinnappa, Head of Strategic Relations, News and Publishers, Google
  • Torsten Schuppe, Director of Marketing EMEA, Google
  • Ronan Harris, Vice President, Google

We will make our first awards early in 2016. We look forward to receiving your applications!

Introducing the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project, for a faster, open mobile web

Smartphones and tablets have revolutionized the way we access information, and today people consume a tremendous amount of news on their phones. Publishers around the world use the mobile web to reach these readers, but the experience can often leave a lot to be desired. Every time a webpage takes too long to load, they lose a reader—and the opportunity to earn revenue through advertising or subscriptions. That's because advertisers on these websites have a hard time getting consumers to pay attention to their ads when the pages load so slowly that people abandon them entirely.

In April, we announced the Digital News Initiative (DNI) together with a group of European publishers, aimed at working together to build a more sustainable future for digital news.

Today, after discussions with our DNI partners in Europe and publishers and technology companies around the world, we’re announcing a new open source initiative called Accelerated Mobile Pages, which aims to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web. We want webpages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads and to load instantaneously. We also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant -- no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device you are using.

The project relies on AMP HTML, a new open framework built entirely out of existing web technologies, which allows websites to build light-weight webpages. To give a you sense of what a faster mobile web might look like, we’ve developed this demo on Google Search:

Over time we anticipate that other Google products such as Google News will also integrate AMP HTML pages. And today we’re announcing that more than 30 publishers from around the world are taking part too.

This is the start of an exciting collaboration with publishers and technology companies, who have all come together to make the mobile web work better for everyone. Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress.com, Chartbeat, Parse.ly, Adobe Analytics and LinkedIn are among the first group of technology partners planning to integrate AMP HTML pages.

In the coming months we’ll work with other participants in the project to build more features and functionality focused on some key areas:

  • Content: Publishers increasingly rely on rich content like image carousels, maps, social plug-ins, data visualizations and videos to make their stories more interactive and stand out. They also need to implement ads and analytics in order to monetize the content and to understand what their readers like and dislike. The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project provides an open source approach, allowing publishers to focus on producing great content, while relying on the shared components for high performance and great user experience. The initial technical specification—developed with input and code from our partners in the publishing and technology sectors—is being released today on Github.
  • Distribution: Publishers want people to enjoy the great journalism they create anywhere and everywhere, so stories or content produced in Spain can be served in an instant across the globe in say Chile. That means that distribution across all kinds of devices and platforms is crucial. So as part of this effort we’ve designed a new approach to caching that allows the publisher to continue to host their content while allowing for efficient distribution through Google's high performance global cache. We intend to open our cache servers to be used by anyone free of charge.
  • Advertising: Ads help fund free services and content on the web. With Accelerated Mobile Pages, we want to support a comprehensive range of ad formats, ad networks and technologies. Any sites using AMP HTML will retain their choice of ad networks, as well as any formats that don’t detract from the user experience. It’s also a core goal of the project to support subscriptions and paywalls. We’ll work with publishers and those in the industry to help define the parameters of an ad experience that still provides the speed we’re striving for with AMP.

We hope the open nature of Accelerated Mobile Pages will protect the free flow of information by ensuring the mobile web works better and faster for everyone, everywhere.

Supporting high quality journalism

Thank you for that kind introduction. I’m delighted to be back in Barcelona and to speak for the first time at a Global Editors Network summit.

The last time I gave a major speech at a news industry event was nearly five years ago - that was at the World Association of Newspapers conference in Hyderabad. I’m sure some of you were there.

In preparing for today I took a look back at that speech. Here’s a little of what I said.

“Imagine we're in 2015, and [this phone] is a piece of technology which delivers me my news."

"I can flip through my favorite papers and magazines without a frustrating wait for each new page to load. Even better, it knows who I am, what I like and what I've already read. So the stories that appear are tailored to my interests and needs."

"There’s an interesting piece in Egypt's Al-Ahram, translated automatically from Arabic to English. A story pops up about great restaurants in Hyderabad. I tap my finger on the screen, to tell the computer it got that bit right!"

"Some of these stories will be part of my monthly news subscription package. Some - where the free preview draws me in - will cost a few pennies billed to my account. Others will be free, paid for by advertisements.”

NOT BAD - if I say so myself!

It sounded a bit like science fiction just five years ago, but most if not quite all of that has come to pass. For the user consuming news online, the advances of the last five years have been truly momentous. The lightning fast move to mobile has challenged us all. And the quality and ambition of journalism just seems to get higher every year.

But you don’t need me to tell you that the road to sustainable models for journalism remains work in progress

I concluded that speech by encouraging publishers to work with Google, not without us - or against us.

That’s also work in progress!

Unfortunately here in Spain, we’ve had some ups and downs. The ‘all or nothing’ nature of the copyright law led us to close Google News here — lose-lose for everyone, and one of the saddest decisions I’ve had to make at Google. But we haven’t given up. We continue to talk with publisher groups and the government and I hope we can bring it back in the future.

Today I want to talk in a little more detail about how we are working with the news industry in 2015 and how we intend to work with you in the years ahead.

And why. At Google, we believe fundamentally in information, and the role that free flowing information plays in strengthening democracies and economies around the world. Journalism is a vital part of that and we want to play our role in making sure high quality journalism has a sustainable future.

In April we announced the Digital News Initiative, a partnership between Google and news publishers in Europe to support quality journalism through technology and innovation. Today I want to give you an update on the progress we are making.

Less than two months ago we started out with eleven partners, including our hosts here - the Global Editors Network - the Guardian in the UK, Die Zeit in Germany, Les Echos in France and El Pais in Spain. I’m very pleased to say that they have now been joined by more than 65 new participants and we have received over 1000 expressions of interest from across Europe. We invite others to join us.

We are working together in three key areas - on product development, on training and research, and on supporting innovation in digital news.

First: product development.

We agree with news publishers that this is THE crucial area if we are to build more sustainable business models together. It won’t be a simple or quick fix but I believe we really have an historic opportunity to help shape the future of this industry in a way which can ensure the survival of high quality journalism online and which will provide an ever-better service for readers.

It will take time, but our Engineering and Product leaders are already engaged in detailed thinking with a working group of publishers on a set of priorities including video, mobile and monetisation.

I can’t yet tell you what they will achieve, but is great to see some of the greatest practitioners in journalism sitting down for the first time with some of the best brains at Google to figure out how our industries can work more productively together. I’ve been party to some of those conversations and I can tell you that the level of commitment on both sides is sky high.

So stay tuned for product developments.

The second pillar of our partnership is in Training and Research. Through our newly established News Lab at Google our programme of newsroom training workshops - with a dedicated European team - is already well underway.

By the end of this year we will have worked with ten thousand journalists around the world, through newsroom trainings and partnerships with such groups as the European Journalism Centre, the International News Media Association and the Global Editors Network.

At Google we like the joke that goes: “In God we Trust, all others must bring data.” For the past four years we’ve partnered with GEN on the Data Journalism Awards to encourage the growth of this highly promising area of journalism. It has been an inspiring journey through a discipline that was almost unknown 5 years ago - and last night’s awards ceremony was a terrific showcase of some of the most engaging examples. Congratulations to the winners!

We’ve always felt that Google’s aggregated search data has the potential to be a great source of raw material for journalists. In May for example, our search data showed that the British were gripped by two things above all others - the General Election...and the Eurovision Song Contest! What did we learn? Well, first - that an awful lot of people were wondering: why is Australia taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest!

But more importantly, Google Trends confounded the pollsters and successfully predicted that Prime Minister David Cameron would win the election.

After consultation with dozens of journalists about how the platform could be even more useful, we’ve just undertaken a major revamp of Google Trends. We’ve improved the depth, comprehensiveness, and speed of our tools - launching real time Google Trends for the first time. It’s well worth a look and you can see it demonstrated at the Google Trends Booth at the EXPO.

Turning to Research, I’m delighted to say that the Reuters Institute Digital News Report, which we support under the DNI, has just launched its 2015 edition covering 12 countries. It’s full of great statistics and analysis of how the digital news landscape is changing in Europe. And over the next year it will grow to cover 20 countries, making it the most comprehensive picture of how European readers are consuming and absorbing their news.

We have also been busy gathering proposals for our Computational Journalism Awards, and today we are announcing three academic research grants of 55 thousand euros each to encourage collaboration between computer science and journalism at universities in Europe. Congratulations to the researchers at the University of Hamburg, INRIA in Paris, and London’s City University who are the first recipients of these awards. These were impressive proposals with strong potential to become real-world tools for journalism.

In the weeks since we announced the kick-off of DNI, we’ve had some great conversations with key people in the news industry. For example, at an UNconference we organised in Helsinki called Newsgeist, one of the topics which was top of editors’ minds was the question of how their publications can maintain or indeed rebuild trust in this era of atomic news consumption.

In a world of native ads, user generated content and widespread sharing, how do readers know what they are reading is true, or what is the motivation of the publisher?

Based on these conversations we have committed to funding an initiative called the Trust Project, led by Markkula Center for Applied Ethics in California, which aims to propose approaches and structures to rebuild trust in online journalism. I’m delighted to say that the Trust Project has extended its pilot to include a number of prominent European news organisation, including La Stampa, Zeit Online and the BBC. And greater trust should translate into greater value.

Since we announced the Digital News Initiative there has been a good deal of interest too in the third pillar - the Innovation Fund, and I wanted to give you an update.

As you know, we have allocated 150 million euros to stimulating and supporting innovation in digital journalism within the news industry in Europe. The ambition and intent of the Fund is bold: to spark new thinking, which could come from anywhere in the news ecosystem, to give news organisations - of all sizes - the space to try some new things. This is a complicated task and we are in the process of setting up the governance structure for the fund. We want to take the appropriate time and diligence to get this right, and make the process transparent and equitable. We’ll announce the details of the submission process in September.

So what kind of proposals are we looking for? In short, the emphasis will be on the experimental and - we hope - the impactful. We want to see genuinely new ideas from those engaged in the day-to-day practice of journalism with the potential to transform the way we all think of digital news.

We encourage you to think broadly about ideas, rather than the levels of funding - sometimes small, scrappier ideas are enough to get things moving faster than larger, more costly projects. And, as we did with the French fund, at the higher end of investment we will ask that participants share the risk by investing some of their own money as well.

Anyone working on innovation in online news in Europe will be able to apply, including national and regional publishers, new players and pure players. And one final thought on this - perhaps this would be a great area for news organisations to come together to submit joint proposals as there are many ideas that affect the whole ecosystem and collaboration can benefit everyone involved.

Finally, I want to say a word about a subject close to my heart - press freedom. This year, we’ve seen journalists kidnapped and killed while working in the service of providing the world information. And these threats go beyond the physical world: digital threats of surveillance, account hacking, and website attacks have have become a common weapon of oppressors around the world. While Google is not in a position to help guard against physical attacks, we are in a position it protect journalists from digital attacks, and so reduce the chilling effects of those threats.

Over the last year we have quietly operated an experiment called Project Shield to protect hundreds of news sites around the world from attacks aimed at censoring them by taking them offline. We do this by putting Google’s considerable computing power between the attackers and independent media sites to help them stay up in times of crisis when they're needed most.

Project Shield has protected more than 250 at-risk sites in more than 50 countries. For example, during last year's conflict in Ukraine, Ukrainian AND Russian media sites were facing denial of service attacks. Project Shield offered protection to news organisations on both sides, and during that two month period alone, we protected over 650 million page views from censorship. I’m proud of that and we aim to extend the scope of Project Shield.

To conclude...

These are interesting times in the relationship between the news and technology industries - perhaps even historic times.

While we have always sought to be a good partner to the news industry we have tended to operate on different paths, and sometimes the dialogue has either been of the deaf - or of the megaphone.

I - and the Product leaders who build and run Google services - are determined to change that. We recognise that technology companies and news organisations are part of the same information ecosystem. We are committed to playing our part.

And of course it is not just Google.

Facebook, Apple, Twitter and others are also engaged in initiatives aimed at working more closely with publishers and helping to re-imagine the future of news. We compete fiercely with those companies day in day out, but as some have observed, if tech companies are competing to outdo each other in how they work with news publishers, what’s not to like about that?

As the great playwright Arthur Miller put it: “A good newspaper... is a nation talking to itself”. Today we are not just talking to ourselves, but talking WITH each other. Long may the conversation continue.

Thank you.

The European Computational Journalism Research Awards

Journalism is evolving fast in the digital age, and researchers across Europe are working on exciting projects to create innovative new tools and open source software that will support online journalism and benefit readers. And so as part of the wider Google Digital News Initiative (DNI), we invited academic researchers across Europe to submit proposals for the Computational Journalism Research Awards.

After careful review by Google’s News Lab and Research teams, the following projects were selected:

SCAN: Systematic Content Analysis of User Comments for Journalists
Walid Maalej, Professor of Informatics, University of Hamburg
Wiebke Loosen, Senior Researcher for Journalism, Hans-Bredow-Institute, Hamburg, Germany
This project aims at developing a framework for the systematic, semi-automated analysis of audience feedback on journalistic content to better reflect the voice of users, mitigate the analysis efforts, and help journalists generate new content from the user comments.

Event Thread Extraction for Viewpoint Analysis
Ioana Manolescu, Senior Researcher, INRIA Saclay, France
The goal of the project is to automatically build topic "event threads" that will help journalists and citizens decode claims made by public figures, in order to distinguish between personal opinion, communication tools and voluntary distortions of the reality.

Computational Support for Creative Story Development by Journalists
Neil Maiden, Professor of Systems Engineering
George Brock, Professor of Journalism, City University London, UK
This project will develop a new software prototype to implement creative search strategies that journalists could use to strengthen investigative storytelling more efficiently than with current news content management and search tools.

We congratulate the recipients of these awards and we look forward to the results of their research. Each award includes funding of up to $60,000 in cash and $20,000 in computing credits on Google’s Cloud Platform. Stay tuned for updates on their progress.

Let’s work together to support quality journalism

Thank you Richard for that introduction and for inviting me to speak today.

Now, you might have seen in today’s papers that we’ve launched the Digital News Initiative together with leading European publishers.

If you did see that story it’s worth spending a moment thinking about how you read it. Maybe you bought a newspaper. Many of you will have read it on your tablet or mobile. Maybe it was in your Facebook feed, or you saw it on Twitter or via Google News. If you haven’t read the story yet, don’t worry - I’m about to tell you all about it using the most ancient form of media - the spoken word. Indeed, it’s interesting that today the spoken word - events such as this one - has itself become an important part of the business mix for modern news organisations.

The aim of today’s conference is to explore the radical changes the media industry is experiencing and to talk about new opportunities for growth.

No-one doubts that the changes are truly radical and challenging. But as we will see today, the opportunities in digital media are practically limitless.

The tools available to journalists today, to access information, to gather and create content and disseminate it to a global audience, represent extraordinary advances compared with what was available just a few years ago. And the quality and ambition of news journalism seems to grow year after year.

The way we consume news is changing dramatically too. More people are accessing more information than ever in history. The number of smartphone users will soon exceed 2 billion. According to Mary Meeker the typical smartphone user checks his or her device 150 times a day.

This represents an opportunity to reach an audience far beyond the morning paper or evening news show of the past. The Reuters Digital News Report found that in Europe in 2014, 37% of us consumed news on a mobile device each week.

Everyone recognises the opportunities the internet offers for the creation and dissemination of journalism. But the “new opportunities for growth” remain elusive. When I talk to publishers in Europe I hear deep concern about their ongoing ability to fund great journalism.

This is felt particularly on the continent. Perhaps the British and the Americans have it easier. In English it is possible to build huge global audiences - the New York Times, the Daily Mail and the Guardian have all proved this. But I’m from Italy, and it is much more difficult for Italian newspapers - and those from other countries with a smaller language base.

So, the challenge for European publishers is clear, but what is Google’s role?

First of all:

Google recognises and admires high quality journalism. As a strong advocate for the free flow of information we know the crucial role it plays in democratic societies.

We recognise that technology companies and news organisations are part of the same information ecosystem. We want to play our part in the common fight to find more sustainable models for news.

I firmly believe that Google has always wanted to be a friend and partner to the news industry, but I also accept we’ve made some mistakes along the way. We are a teenage “tech” company after all!

Over the years, Google’s relationship with news and the news industry has often been misunderstood and - dare I say it - sometimes misreported. So let me take a moment or two to set out how we work with the news industry.
Through Search and News, we send over 10 billion visits, for free, to publishers globally each month. We’re proud of that, and those readers represent real revenue opportunities for the publishers.

And through our advertising platforms, such as AdSense, we shared 10 billion dollars with publishers around the world in 2014.

Today we have more than 65,000 publishers in Google News, and Iet me be clear that those publishers are in control. They apply to be part of Google News. And if at any point they don't want any of their content to appear in Google News or in our Search results, they can opt out by inserting a simple piece of code that instructs us not to index it.

We also work with an increasing number of publishers who want to sell their content directly to consumers, especially on tablets and mobile. Google Play - our app store for the Android operating system - allows news and magazine publishers to offer their content to readers on subscription - whether paid or for free. We are working closely with publishers to improve the visibility and monetisation of their news apps. And today news sources are making their content available on Google Play Newsstand across 19 countries.

We provide publishers with free technology tools to build and engage their audience - whether through YouTube, live broadcasting with Hangouts on Air, or data journalism.

We work with news organisations to make the most of this technology, using it to build an engaged audience. And an engaged audience is essential for successful and sustainable monetisation.

But we think we can do more and better, particularly in Europe. I’m happy to announce here today - alongside a number of European publishers and journalism organisations - the Digital News Initiative to promote high-quality journalism through technology and innovation.

What are we going to do together?

A few months back we held an “unconference” called Newsgeist in Phoenix Arizona, bringing together a wide range of publishers, editors and reporters alongside engineers and developers. The idea of an “unconference” is that the audience chooses the agenda, and the title of one of the sessions they chose was: “What should Google do?”.

Several major European publishers were there, and their message was loud and clear: MORE COLLABORATION. So, we started a detailed conversation with a number of key European publishers, which has brought us to today.

Our joint efforts will be in three key areas.

First, product development. We will create a publishers’ working group from across Europe to explore product developments aimed at increasing revenue, traffic and audience engagement. Over the years we have worked on a range of news-related initiatives, but we tended to work in isolation, and the feedback has been that Google can be complicated to work with, and at times unpredictable!

We intend to change that - indeed it is my job to change that!

Second, we will significantly increase our investment in training and research. Through our newly established News Lab team we will bring dedicated training resources to European newsrooms for the first time. We are creating training programmes with a number of journalism organisations, including the European Journalism Centre, the Global Editors Network and the International News Media Association.

We will also invest in research into the fast changing media landscape. We are partnering with the Reuters Institute in Oxford to create the deepest and most comprehensive picture of how the consumption of news is evolving in Europe. For 2016 the Reuters Institute Digital News Report will be expanded to cover 20 European countries - an essential guide to the changing news landscape.

We will set up a grants programme for academic institutions who wish to carry out research into the growing field of computational journalism. And we will extend our successful Google Journalism Fellowships programme to Europe, aimed at students interested in using technology to tell stories in new and dynamic ways.

And thirdly, we have allocated 150 million euros to stimulating and supporting innovation in digital journalism within the news industry in Europe, over the next three years. In the feedback we hear from publishers and editors, it is clear that there is a great desire to experiment more freely, but risk-taking comes at a cost. The purpose of this is to make grants available to projects which demonstrate new thinking in digital journalism. No-one knows where the next great idea will come from - but we want to stimulate and nurture ideas that come from those who are closest to the action, from those who know best how journalism is changing. Anyone working on innovation in online news in Europe will be able to apply, including national and regional publishers, new players and pure players.

As someone who has been closely involved in the French digital news innovation fund over the past three years I can say with certainty that the initiative has led to some really inspiring and innovative projects.

  • Le Monde has built a complete new offering for mobile and tablet that significantly improved engagement with their app, increasing page views and time spent
  • Slate.fr built a new kind of newsreader, funded by native ads, that surfaces and curates trending content on social networks. It’s a powerful tool for reporters and great for consumers too.

These are just two of the more than 50 projects funded in France, demonstrating how much can be achieved when we talk and work together.

So I’m delighted to say that joining us in announcing the Digital News Initiative are some of the biggest names in European news publishing.
And we all agreed this is not intended to be an exclusive club - any European publisher, big or small, traditional or newcomer, who wishes to take part in any of the elements of the initiative will be welcome.

Journalism organisations - who play such an important role in helping the news industry navigate the transition to digital - are also welcome, and I am pleased to say that we will be partnering with the European Journalism Center, the Global Editors Network and the International News Media Association. And this is just the beginning - we invite others to join us. You can find details on the website: digitalnewsinitiative.com - or use any good search engine

To conclude:

It would be wonderful if there was one big idea which could fix everything for the news industry. So let me say this - this initiative is not about Google trying to reinvent journalism or to fix the news industry once and for all. That is neither our responsibility nor something we could hope to achieve.

I should also make it clear that much as we admire quality journalism we have no plans to get involved in creating or commissioning news. Although we seem to be quite good at generating it!

But I can’t promise it will be smooth. At Google we know that innovation is never a linear process. It’s always messy and often happens in random ways. Sometimes - often - we fail.

But I am convinced we will achieve much more if journalism and technology work together rather than apart.

Thank you