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That came on top of the previous Digital News Initiative, which was set up by Google in 2015 and included a $170 million innovation fund aimed at the European media industry.
Facebook, too, has been funneling money into journalism projects, including the News Integrity Initiative - a $14 million investment in a project run by City University of New York - and the Facebook Journalism Project, a wide-ranging venture the company says is designed to help media companies develop new storytelling tools and ways of promoting news literacy.
Taken together, Facebook and Google have now committed more than half a billion dollars to various journalistic programs and media partnerships over the past three years, not including the money spent internally on developing media-focused products like Facebook's Instant Articles and Google's competing AMP mobile project.
The irony is hard to miss.
The dismantling of the traditional advertising model - largely at the hands of the social networks, which have siphoned away the majority of industry ad revenue - has left many media companies and journalistic institutions in desperate need of a lifeline.
Google and Facebook, meanwhile, are happy to oblige, flush with cash from their ongoing dominance of the digital ad market.
The result is a somewhat dysfunctional alliance. People in the media business (including some on the receiving end of the cash) see the tech donations as guilt money, something journalism deserves because Google and Facebook wrecked their business.
The tech giants, meanwhile, are desperate for some good PR and maybe even a few friends in a journalistic community that - especially now - can seem openly antagonistic.
Given that tangled backstory, it's no surprise the funding issue is contentious.
The reality is that even if the money achieves some good, and even if there are no strings attached (which both companies insist is the case), accepting the largesse of Facebook and Google inevitably pulls the media even further into their orbit.
It may not have a direct effect on what someone writes about or how a topic is covered, but it will undoubtedly have a long-term effect on the media and journalism.
Are the tradeoffs worth it?
EVEN SOME OF THE PEOPLE WHO BENEFIT from the money say they are torn between the desire for badly needed funding that can be put towards a positive purpose, and the sinking feeling that they are being drawn deeper into a relationship with a tech company that has a huge amount of power, and may ultimately use it in ways that are antithetical to journalism.
In other words, they worry about being pawns in a PR game...
A former Google staffer who worked on the company's media programs says even he feels conflicted about the practice.
While many of the funded projects are worthwhile, he says, the result is that,
University of Virginia media studies professor Siva Vaidhyanathan says both Facebook and Google may care about journalism and want it to be healthy,
Vaidhyanathan sees an inherent conflict in accepting money from Facebook or Google because,
According to one estimate by a media research firm, Google and Facebook will account for close to 85 percent of the global digital ad market this year and will take most of the growth in that market - meaning other players will be forced to shrink.
That includes many of the traditional publishers and media outlets who now work with them.
Molly de Aguiar, who runs the News Integrity Initiative at CUNY, which is funded partly by Facebook, says she understands people's misgivings.
CUNY journalism professor Jeff Jarvis set up the initiative after discussions with Craigslist founder Craig Newmark (who is also a funder of the NII and a member of the CJR Board of Overseers).
Jarvis says he had some reservations about taking money from Facebook, because he knew there would be questions about independence and influence.
Alexios Mantzarlis, who runs the International Fact-Checking Network based at the Poynter Institute - which is funded in part by a grant from Google - says he gladly took the search engine's money to advance the project.
Dan Gillmor runs a news collaboration project at Arizona State University that is partly funded by Facebook, and has written in the past about the dangers of Facebook's control of the media ecosystem.
But he says he was willing to take funding from the giant social network because it would help enable the journalism program to do good.
Jennifer Preston, vice president of journalism at the Knight Foundation - which funds a number of initiatives related to both the Facebook Journalism Project and the Google News Initiative, including Facebook's recent moves aimed at helping local publishers - says anyone receiving funding needs to be transparent about the relationship, but in principle she doesn't see anything wrong with accepting funding from the platforms if it helps support journalism.
FOR ALL OF THE TALK OF FUNDING INDEPENDENCE and of people making the best of a tough economic situation in journalism, there is still widespread skepticism about the motivation.
One source who has received funding from Facebook says:
Former Twitter and NPR executive Vivian Schiller says the fact that Google and Facebook are handing out bags of money to media organizations,
Josh Benton, head of the Nieman Journalism Lab (which has a fellowship sponsored by Google) says that while funding from the tech giants achieves some good, it also clearly makes the companies look good, too.
It is, of course, possible that both things may be true:
In Google's case, much of its initial commitment to helping publishers and the media ecosystem came as the company was under heavy fire from the industry and from regulators in several European countries, over what they claimed was the company's negative impact on the media business.
Things came to a boil first in Belgium, where publishers launched a legal battle in 2006 claiming their content was being illegally included in search and Google News.
Soon News Corp. mogul Rupert Murdoch and others were complaining about the theft of content and the capricious choices of the algorithm, and a number of European countries were considering legislation to curb what they saw as the uncomfortable spread of Google's power.
Google finally settled its dispute with Belgium in 2012.
The terms of the deal were not released, but the company agreed to partner with publishers in the country and assist them in various ways, including helping them to use the company's AdWords and AdSense networks (it also reportedly agreed to pay $6.5 million to a group of Belgian media companies).
In France, the company faced similar legal challenges, including the threat of a "link tax," and it agreed to settle these concerns by establishing a $70 million "Digital Innovation Fund" in 2013.
As pressure intensified in Germany and elsewhere, Google expanded its program of largesse by launching what it called the Digital News Initiative in 2015.
The initiative was aimed at providing help with developing new products, training, and research (among other things, the DNI helps fund the Reuters Institute's annual Digital News Report), as well as an innovation fund providing a pool of $170 million that any media outlet could apply to share in.
As of last year, the fund had handed out more than $90 million worth of financing to 450 projects in almost 30 countries.
The company also created the Google News Lab, which it deemed a resource for media companies to use in understanding the Web.
The lab funds projects and resources devoted to data journalism, sponsors reporting fellowships at organizations like ProPublica, and offers training for journalists on how to use Google's tools and networks, as well as other digital skills.
In a very real sense, then, Google's funding of journalism began as a damage-control effort - a way of countering the bad press about content theft with an olive branch.
But the company's head of news, Richard Gingras, says the search giant also recognized the systemic changes that were occurring in media (changes it clearly played a role in) and did its best to help.
Gingras says the company's broader motivation was a shared interest in developing a healthy ecosystem of quality information, which in turn supports the search company's interest in protecting the open Web.
The goal, then, soon became to keep media companies using the Web, instead of getting drawn deeper into walled gardens like those run by Facebook and Apple.
SO ARE THE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS that Google and Facebook have poured into the media industry and journalism worth it?
That depends on what you see as the trade-offs that have been made in order to accept the funds, and whether you think the ends justify the means.
In the case of Google's original News Innovation Fund, for example, the more than $100 million that has been doled out since 2015 has funded a wide range of startups, prototypes, and other experimental projects in more than 25 countries.
The way that the fund is currently structured, it does two rounds a year, in which it pays out up to $60,000 for early-stage projects, up to $350,000 for medium-sized projects, and as much as $1.2 million for larger ventures.
In the very first round of funding in 2015, Spanish independent media outlet El Diario got a grant to help it build a crowdsourcing model for journalism, and a German startup called Spectrm got funds to build a chat-bot to help publishers communicate directly with readers.
In the last round of funding, about $65,000 went to Stop Propaghate, a project from Portugal that is using machine-learning to identify hate speech.
These and many of the other ventures Google has funded - such as the Trust Project, an attempt to develop objective indicators media outlets can use to prove they are trustworthy, or First Draft News, a fact-checking project based at Harvard's Shorenstein Center - clearly have worthwhile aspects and are helping journalists and media outlets branch out into new areas and develop new skills.
Many of the projects the News Integrity Initiative is funding, such as the European Journalism Centre's new accelerator program, also seem worthwhile.
The broader question is whether these projects are doing much to move the needle in the industry.
Some believe Google should be providing much more funding to existing media players such as ProPublica, or even funding its own arms-length media entity.
The other problematic aspect of much of the support both Google and Facebook provide is that it mostly just encourages journalists and media organizations to spend more time using Google and Facebook.
As Vaidhyanathan points out, this inevitably tightens the integration between media and these two giant, for-profit corporations and the ecosystems they've created.
Is that necessarily a good thing?
These questions are difficult, in part, because the relationship between the platforms and the media industry is so messy, like a couple on the verge of an acrimonious breakup.
Both sides are arguably guilty of failing to follow through on their promises, of leaping without looking, and of failing to take advantage of obvious opportunities, whether out of fear or ignorance.
Should tech companies be the media's partners or competitors, or both?
When pushed, technology insiders seem to think most of the major players in media are whiners who failed to keep up with the advancements of technology and are now bitching because someone else did it first and managed to serve their customers - advertisers and/or users - better than they did.
More than anything, Silicon Valley seems to believe that what the media business really wants from them isn't help, it's a handout.
This view has more than a little truth to it. Many media companies were slow to adapt to the Web and to new developments like mobile, and some of their resentment of Google and Facebook stems from the fact that they have lost their traditional monopoly over things like the distribution of information and advertising.
Should digital winners be penalized simply because they came up with a better business model first?
Much of the media industry, meanwhile, sees Google as having stolen not just their gatekeeper role and advertising business, but their actual content as well.
The attitude toward Facebook is similar, but there is an added layer, which is that many media companies feel as though they have been played by the social network - that they are the victims of a bait-and-switch campaign, where Facebook makes all sorts of promises about how they will benefit from putting their content on the site, then changes its algorithm and leaves them hanging.
WHILE GOOGLE WAS BUSY DEVELOPING the News Lab and the Digital News Initiative, Facebook was still a relatively small player and hadn't made as much of an attempt to reach out to the media, apart from some projects aimed at sharing ad revenue or helping companies tweak their content so that it would be shared more.
But as it grew and its desire for more engaging content expanded, so did its attempts to win over media outlets.
One of the social network's first efforts was the "social reader app" program in 2012, which it worked on with advice from former Washington Post owner Don Graham, a friend and early mentor to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
The program was a smashing success for partners like the Post and The Guardian, leading to huge increases in readership - but the experiment flamed out after the social network changed its algorithm.
In 2015, the company tried again with Instant Articles, an attempt to convince media companies to use its mobile-friendly solution for distributing their content (Google quickly followed with its own take, known as Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP).
As it started to deal more directly with media companies, however, the criticisms of Facebook started to increase: Many felt it was taking too much content and not providing enough compensation, just like Google.
This negative attention accelerated after Facebook signed deals with companies like The New York Times and BuzzFeed to create video for the platform.
In all, it spent about $30 million encouraging companies to do so, and then just as quickly, the money tap dried up, and some of the publishers that had come to rely on Facebook for revenue started to feel the pain.
Even BuzzFeed missed its revenue targets in 2017 and was forced to lay off some of its staff.
As these criticisms started to mount, Facebook took a page from Google's playbook and hired Brown, a high-profile former journalist, to be its head of news partnerships, just as Google hired Gingras.
The social network also started handing out money to journalistic ventures and creating projects like the Integrity Initiative.
The Initiative has in turn funded projects like a $1.5 million journalism accelerator run by the European Journalism Centre, part of $2.5 million in grants to the EJC and other organizations.
Through the Journalism Project, Facebook has funded research at Arizona State University's journalism school, as well as training programs through the Society for Professional Journalists.
And the social network recently announced a $3 million, three-month pilot program aimed at helping media companies get more revenue from subscriptions.
Much like her Google counterpart, Brown also talks about Facebook as having a responsibility to help the broader news environment.
This feeling of responsibility is relatively recent.
Not long ago, Mark Zuckerberg was busy denying Facebook was a media entity and scoffing at the idea that "fake news" might have altered the course of the 2016 election.
Being called on the carpet by Congress over Russia's hijacking of the platform seems to have helped change the Facebook founder's mind on those points, or at least make him more interested in looking like he is helping.
So far, however, Facebook's contributions have been relatively tiny.
Emily Bell, who runs the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia, wrote in a CJR essay last February that she believes Google and Facebook should put up several billion dollars to create a kind of public trust for media, and she says she believes that even more strongly now.
NO MATTER HOW ALTRUISTIC they seem, the reality is that all of this funding is just another way in which both Facebook and Google integrate themselves even more tightly into the fabric of media and journalism, not just in the US but worldwide.
And the more financially stressed the industry becomes, the hungrier it gets for the kind of support only Google and Facebook can provide. And that leads to even further integration.
It doesn't help that Google and Facebook are rarely just small funders of specific projects along with other major donors, and they almost never fund the same initiatives together.
This means that in many cases, the two tech companies are the single largest or possibly even only major funders, which raises a lot more potential red flags.
Whenever there are these kinds of ties between corporations and research, there are inevitably going to be questions about the impartiality of the results, even if both sides make it clear there are "no strings attached."
When a large study of how fake news spreads on Twitter was published earlier this year, some noted that the results (which found that bots are not as big a problem as some believed them to be) could be seen as favorable toward Twitter.
Why is that relevant?
Because the research was produced by the Laboratory for Social Machines at MIT, which was funded by Twitter in 2014 with a $10 million grant. Head researcher Deb Roy - who was a senior Twitter executive before he joined the MIT lab - says in an interview Twitter's funding had nothing to do with the outcome of the research.
But there will undoubtedly be those who question the results when a single corporation is the sole funder.
Facebook recently announced a plan to allow researchers to use some of its internal data, but didn't say how the company would decide who gets the data and who doesn't.
In a competitive field like academic research, that information and that relationship could be a significant advantage, which could in turn affect the kind of research that is done or how it is presented.
One senior media executive who has dealt with both Google and Facebook says even the no-strings-attached deals they offer,
Both Google and Facebook may argue - and may even believe - that they simply want to help increase the supply of quality journalism in the world.
But the fact remains that they are not just disinterested observers.
They are multibillion-dollar entities that compete directly with media companies for the attention of users, and for the wallets of every advertising company that used to help support the business model of journalism.
Their funding and assistance can't be disentangled from their conflicted interests, no matter how much they wish it could.