After years of arguments over how its Google News service handles content in Europe, Google is offering both money and cooperation to large publishers in several EU countries. Acknowledging past mistakes, a Google executive says, "We are a teenage 'tech' company after all!"
Last December, Google shut down its Google News page in Spain, after the country threatened steep fines for aggregator sites that don't pay newspapers and other content publishers.
From Brussels, Teri Schultz reports for our Newscast unit:
"Google will spend $163 million to set up the Digital News Initiative, a partnership with eight leading European publishers including The Financial Times, The Guardian, Germany's Die Zeit and Spain's El Pais.
"In a blog post, Google says the fund will be used for product development, training and research and stimulating innovation in digital journalism. Google staff will work directly with newsrooms, set up training partnerships with journalism organizations and give grants to academic institutions.
"Carlo D'Asaro Biondo, head of Google's strategic relationships in Europe, says the company has always wanted to be a friend and partner to the news industry, but accepts 'we've made some mistakes along the way' and can be seen as difficult to work with. Biondo says Google intends to change that."
Biondo also said the new plan won't fix all the problems that news organizations face. He wrote:
"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!"
The move comes less than two weeks after the EU leveled antitrust charges against Google over its search and shopping services.