Media Insider: Google to Pay Publishers $1B, Senator Introduces Bill to Help Local News, Bloomberg Creates Wealth Vertical

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s round-up of media stories from the week.

A laptop on top of a bench; the laptop has the Google search page on the screen 

Google Will Spend $1 Billion to Pay Publishers for News Showcase

Google will pay publishers more than $1 billion over the next three years to create and curate high-quality journalism for a new set of features called Google News Showcase. This is Google’s biggest-ever financial commitment to the news industry. In 2018, it pledged $300 million to efforts supporting the news industry. This announcement builds on that effort and its existing news licensing program, which pays select publishers to feature their stories in Google News and Search. The Google News Showcase, launching first in Brazil and Germany, includes a new set of features that Google hopes will help guide readers to higher-quality information and boost traffic to participating publishers’ websites. The biggest feature in the Showcase is “panels,” which allow publishers to package stories with greater context than they can provide now when their stories appear on Google. Publishers can include elements like timelines, bullets, and related articles within one story panel. Eventually, they’ll be able to embed video, audio, and daily briefings.

A new report suggests Google is on the verge of striking a deal with Australian regulators that would force the tech giant to pay Australian publishers.

Colorado’s Michael Bennet Introduces a Federal Bill to Help Save the Local News

Colorado’s Democratic U.S. senator, Michael Bennet, this week introduced legislation that, if passed, would examine ways in which the federal government might try to help fix the local news business model. The Future of Local News Commission Act would create a federal panel of 13 people who would, among other duties, examine the state of local news and the ability of local news to sustain democracy; examine potential new mechanisms for public funding for the production of local news; provide recommendations on mechanisms the federal government can implement to support the production of professional, independent, and high-quality local news; and explore the possible creation of a new national endowment for local journalism. More than a dozen top journalism advocacy groups signed on in support of the legislation before news of it became widely public, including PEN America and the Society of Professional Journalists.

The coronavirus has closed more than 50 local newsrooms across America – and counting.

A Quarter of US Adults Now Get News From YouTube, Pew Research Study Finds

Around a quarter of U.S. adults, roughly 26%, say they get news by watching YouTube videos, according to a new study from Pew Research Center. The study, not surprisingly, found that established news organizations no longer have full control over the news Americans watch, as only one-in-five YouTube consumers (23%) said they “often” get their news from channels affiliated with established news organizations. The exact same percentage said they “often” get their news from independent channels instead. This study also found that a majority (72%) of Americans said YouTube was either an important (59%) or the most important (13%) way they get their news. Most also said they didn’t see any big issues with getting their news from the site, but they did express some moderate concern about misinformation, political bias, YouTube’s demonetization practices, and censorship. 

The study also found that independent news channels are more likely to focus on conspiracy theories and cover subjects negatively.

Bloomberg Creates Wealth Vertical on Personal Finances

Bloomberg has launched a vertical dedicated to helping readers and viewers make smarter decisions about their personal finances. Bloomberg Wealth has currently organized content on the site around six main topics: wealth management, pay, billionaires, art, risk, and taxes and policy. Subcategories include investing, pursuits, reinvention, cybersecurity, business, deals, finance, and technology. Articles range from “Six things you’re doing wrong when buying stocks on your own” to “Where to invest $1 million right now.” Bloomberg Wealth is the latest in a slew of new verticals launched by the business publication. Just this year, Bloomberg launched verticals dedicated to the business and future of entertainment (Screentime), climate change (Bloomberg Green), and cities (Bloomberg CityLab).

Also from Publishers Daily: NowThis Earth launches to cover changing planet.

E.W. Scripps Buys ION Media for $2.65B, With Berkshire Hathaway Investment

Local TV station owner E.W. Scripps said it will pay $2.65 billion to acquire national broadcast network ION Media, with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway putting $600 million into the deal. Scripps will combine ION assets — notably its broadcast spectrum holdings — with its own brands like multiplatform news outlet Newsy and multicast networks such as Court TV and Bounce to create a national company. ION reaches 100 million homes through stations in 62 markets and 124 affiliates. The acquisition announcement said ION’s average prime-time audience is the fifth largest among all networks carried by cable operators. Instead of negotiating retransmission consent fees, ION relies on federal government must-carry provisions, which ensure its programming is widely available.

Buffett’s alignment with the deal is noteworthy given he recently sold his stake in his newspaper business.

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Maria Perez is Director, Web Experience & Operations at Cision. In her spare time, she runs Bags of Love Foundation, a local nonprofit that provides cancer patients with care packages aimed at making their treatment more comfortable. She also enjoys cuddling with her dog Toody, who thinks he rules the world.

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