The gesture by Google to spend $39.5 million (about R680 million) in funding media houses around the world during Covid-19 would go a long way in assisting an economically crippled media, if conditions guaranteed editorial independence, according to an expert.
The grants would give recipients a chance to diversify revenue and apply new business models. Among conditions to be eligible for the grant were that:
- Applicants should have a digital presence, having been in operation for at least 12 months.
- Newsrooms had to employ between two and 100 full-time journalists.
- Local publishers employing more than 100 journalists could still apply and would be considered subject to Google’s discretion, based mainly on differing needs in different countries and regions.
- Organisations must be incorporated or registered in one of the eligible geographies. Unincorporated organisations should be based in one of the eligible geographies.
- Eligible applicants should focus on core news provision, not lifestyle, sports or business-to-business.
- Applicants could include for-profit or nonprofit traditional news organisations, digital natives, radio and television broadcasters.
- Government-owned entities and individuals would not be eligible to apply. Selected applicants would be required to enrol as a Google partner (if they were not already).