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March 3, 2016, 11:31 a.m.
Business Models
LINK: medium.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   March 3, 2016

Google announced late last month that it’s chosen 128 projects, from 23 countries across Europe, to receive funding from its Digital News Initiative European Innovation Fund. Google plans to spend €150 million (USD $164 million) over three years to “help stimulate innovation in digital journalism,” and is offering up €27 million to the first round of projects.

DNI-map-gif-v4

The company still hasn’t released a full list of the projects that received funding, though. It says “recipients are still being notified,” and highlighted just two of the winners in a blog post:

Spain’s eldiario.es will create a new journalism funding system that will identify niche groups of audiences and invite them to fund a specific story or top up the financial gap in an important area of coverage. Building on a traditional crowd-funding model, the project will leverage the existing relationship between the news organization behind the platform and a community of millions of readers.

The German startup Spectrm will build an artificial intelligence engine to help publishers communicate directly with readers — and distribute content — on a 1:1 basis through instant messaging apps.

Beyond that, Google only said that funding is going to both large and small organizations, and that projects “have been wonderfully diverse, ranging from automated content personalization and robot journalism, to hoax busting apps and tools to verify social media in real-time reporting.” The fund isn’t evenly split; different organizations are receiving different amounts of money.

So a few intrepid folks are trying to figure out who the rest of the winners are. Til Man, a journalist who works for German publisher Deutsche Welle’s innovation team (DW won some of the funding) dug around on Twitter and Google to find other winners and came up with a preliminary list of 33 projects. The Belgian mobile publisher Twipe (another winner) came up with a similar list sorted by country. Among the winning projects they found:

NewsGenie, a mobile news project out of Austria to help independent publishers reach millennial readers.
— A children’s news service to make news accessible to young readers by “semiautomatically converting” articles from the Netherlands’ national news service ANP to simpler reading levels.
— Trinity Mirror’s Perspecs, a project from the British publisher that “presents three sides to a news story, allowing users to switch between different news sources presenting differing views — for example the neutral, left and right wing political perspective of the same story.”

Google isn’t funding all of these projects entirely out of the good of its own heart. As we wrote last year, the “newfound diplomacy and philanthropy comes after years of battling with European publishers about the company’s influence over advertising, search, and visibility in Google News.” Those battles are ongoing, and German publishers are currently fighting Google in court to try to get the company to pay them for displaying snippets of their articles online. A Berlin court rejected that complaint, but Google News shut down in Spain following a similar fight.

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