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    Google Offers 'Level Playing Field' Under Pressure from Content Creators

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    Google announced on Monday, October 2, it would stop demanding free stories from news outlets in exchange for showing their websites in search results. Digital media strategist Nic Newman said Google and Facebook were under pressure to help publishers, who provide content but do not get adequately rewarded by search engines or social media.

    Google announced on Monday, October 2, it would stop demanding free stories from news outlets in exchange for showing their websites in search results.

    Nic Newman, digital media and product strategist and a Visiting Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, said the decision to abandon the "first click free" policy showed Google was under pressure.

    End to 'Discrimination'

    "At the moment publishers who charge for content in some way, or had some form of paywall, have been effectively been discriminated against within Google. So if they don't take part in what a one click free policy their content was essentially demoted or in some cases not even indexed at all," Mr. Newman told Sputnik.

    Up until now Google has required news outlets to provide access to three articles to the readers free of charge.

    Instead, Google will allow news outlets to choose the number of free stories they provide before the paywall appears.

    "Google has said it is doing away with that and it is going to be a level playing field between those that charge and those that don't charge. And that is good for publishers. And they are also introducing a much more flexible approach so you can still charge for content and at some stage in that journey those publishers who charge will be able to have some control of that," Mr. Newman told Sputnik.

    Users Largely Unaffected

    "Most users won't notice much difference but publishers have been asking for this some time," he added.

    "Google have been under huge pressure from publishers but also from regulators and others who are looking at the state of the news industry, which is in a lot of trouble, and Google know that the publishers have a powerful voice," Mr. Newman told Sputnik, adding that Facebook was coming under similar pressure.

    "The bigger picture is the rising power of digital platforms compared with those creating the content. There is a sense that those that are creating journalistic content are not getting appropriately rewarded and those that are intermediating, whether that is a search engine or a social media company, are essentially taking more of the value than they should," Mr. Newman told Sputnik.

    He said there was also a general trend away from the internet being completely free to content being monetized.

    Growing Specialization in News

    Mr. Newman said in the future there would be probably fewer news organizations and more specialist providers focusing on niche markets.

    Richard Gingras, vice-president of news at Google, said the new policy aimed to benefit both the readers and publishers by streamlining subscription process and boosting subscription revenues.

    In line with the changes, users will be able to subscribe to news websites with one click rather than filling out complicated subscription forms.

    The company's official did not indicate when the changes could be implemented.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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