13:45 - 14:45
Publisher's patrons: How Big Tech is re-defining journalism

Short thesis

Google and Facebook dominate online advertising and play a pivotal role in news distribution. But that is not the only way in which big tech companies colonize journalism. Google, especially, has been a pioneer in funding 'innovation' in media organisations. What is the search giant trying to achieve with its 150 million euro fund for European media? Our cross-border investigation looked at how Google uses its money as soft-power tool in journalism. In our panel, we will discuss our findings.


Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Google – many tech companies are involved in journalism. A major force, however, is Google’s News Initiative. But where does Google’s money go?

A data investigation by journalists from netzpolitik.org in Germany joined by colleagues from magazine Der Falter in Austria and Republik in Switzerland looked into more than 400 projects financed by the DNI fund. Our findings show that the typical recipient of Google funding is a commercial legacy institution in Western Europe. Meanwhile, non-profit news organisations and public-service media rarely receive funding.

Our research highlights how Google funds news organisations, but also media conferences and journalism research. The funding helps to ease media organisations into the Google product universe and serves as a soft-power instrument. Debates in several EU countries about a 'Google tax' on digital ad revenue for financing journalism have died down ever since Google first started its funding in France in 2014.

In our panel, we will discuss examples of Google funding and what the search giant means by the term 'innovation'. We will present the findings of our research and discuss what implications the patronage of big companies could have for the future of journalism. After presenting our findings, we would like to open the floor for inputs and questions from the audience.