Google is finally launching its News Showcase platform in the United States, although it is reportedly two years behind schedule. This launch is part of a broader effort by Google to support local news in the country. As part of the Google News Initiative, the company has formed new partnerships with five news associations to provide financial grants and training to nearly 1,000 local publications.
The News Showcase project is a significant undertaking, worth $1 billion over three years, where Google pays to aggregate headlines in a dedicated section of its platform. The timing of this announcement is noteworthy as it coincides with the growing momentum in the United States around legislation that could require Google and Facebook to pay for news content. The California Journalism Preservation Act, based on the national Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, is making progress in Sacramento.
Google has revealed that News Showcase will launch with more than 150 news publications on board, including notable names such as the Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg, and El Diario. Interestingly, The New York Times, despite recently signing a multi-million-dollar deal with Google, was not mentioned in the press release. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that the New York Times’ deal was worth $100 million over three years and did include participation in Showcase.
Earlier reports from 2021 indicated that the US launch of News Showcase had been delayed due to Google’s struggles in securing partnerships with news publishers. According to Google, 90% of the publications participating in News Showcase are local or regional titles representing 39 states. Some of the partners mentioned in the press release include the Duluth News Tribune, Nola.com/The Times-Picayune, Oaklandside, La Opinion, La Raza, and Orlando Weekly.
However, it seems that Google has yet to secure partnerships with several major American publishers, including Gannett, a prominent local publishing giant. Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Gannett rejected an offer of $6 million per year to join Showcase and instead made a counter-offer of $300 million per year.
Google initially launched News Showcase in several countries in 2020. However, a Press Gazette investigation conducted one year later raised concerns about Google’s motives behind the platform. Evidence from publishers suggested that Google was using Showcase payments as a way to appease publishers in countries where legislation was pressuring them to pay for news. This led to speculation that Google offered more favorable deals to publishers in Australia, which passed its News Media Bargaining Code in 2021, compared to publishers in other regions.
In addition to the News Initiative and News Showcase funding, Google also announced the launch of Reader Revenue Manager. This suite of tools is designed to assist publishers in monetizing their content. It will be available in several countries, including the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Peru.
The five US associations partnering with Google, as mentioned in the press release, are the Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION), the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP), the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN), and the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN).