Google’s Plan to Save Newspapers

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Can Google save the newspaper industry?

That’s the question being posed, now that the search giant has announced it’s developing a platform to microcharge for online news content.

The plan promises a win-win scenario: The news industry finally profits online, while Google takes 30 percent off the top (much like Apple with iPhone apps).

Based on the (rough) outline, there’s plenty to be excited about. The proposal involves a fee to access multiple sites, a clever way to assuage commitment issues. And Google is, after all, Google—an online behemoth with a ton of power to leverage.

The downside: Precedent. There has been scant luck with charging for content so far, so who’s to know if anything will work? And getting the news industry on board may prove difficult, considering Google’s contested aggregation practices.

But whether it pans out or not, it’s good to hear that interesting ideas are being tossed around. Because if something isn’t done to save quality, original reporting soon, we’ll all be the worse for it.


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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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