News Corp Readies News App to Address Publishers’ Concerns About Google and Facebook

lunes, 26 de agosto de 2019
Foto: The Wall Street Journal

Knewz.com will surface articles from hundreds of news sources, using software and human curation

The Wall Street Journal

News Corp NWS -0.97% is developing a news-aggregation service meant to address concerns that Alphabet Inc. GOOG -0.73% ’s Google News and other digital platforms don’t reward publishers’ work adequately and play down articles from certain types of sites, according to people familiar with the plans.

The service, currently called Knewz.com, is expected to be a website and a mobile app. An early version is being shown to a small group of News Corp executives and an official launch could come later this year, though no specific timeline has been set, the people said. The company could still decide not to proceed with the project, they said.

The service will draw from hundreds of news sources, including national outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and NBC News, digital-native players, magazine publishers and local newspapers, the people said. News Corp owns Dow Jones & Co., which publishes The Wall Street Journal.

The articles on Knewz.com will link directly to publishers’ sites, and News Corp won’t take a cut of the advertising revenue the articles generate. News Corp also expects to share data with those publishers. The service will aim to promote original news reports rather than those that are quick rehashes of existing articles, and it will treat subscription news sites the same as nonsubscription sites in determining which articles to link to, the people familiar with the plans said.

News Corp isn’t striking licensing deals with media companies for the service, since it is simply linking out to their sites without hosting their content on its platform or charging for it, one of the people said.

The project aims to give exposure to smaller outlets that News Corp executives believe are often demoted in Google’s search results and Facebook Inc. FB -0.20% ’s social feed, the people said.

That includes publishers with conservative audiences such as the Daily Wire, the Daily Caller, the Washington Free Beacon and the Washington Examiner, according to some of the people. Others said the idea is to highlight deserving news stories, regardless of politics, noting that progressive sites such as Daily Kos and ThinkProgress are included.

Representatives for Google and Facebook had no immediate comment. The companies have said their algorithms don’t rank or prioritize content based on the political leanings of news organizations.

News Corp is preparing an advertising-sales strategy for Knewz.com, and there will be a marketing push for the launch, people familiar with the plan said. Some of the people said the hope is that it could potentially give News Corp more leverage in its relationship with Google and other platforms.

“We are exploring this with the goal of recognizing and rewarding the provenance of journalism, and to drive traffic and data to publishers-including subscription sites-so their original work is respected,” said James Kennedy, a spokesman for News Corp. “We want people to see a wide spectrum of news and views, from local, niche and national sources, without bent or bias.”

The service will select stories to surface through a combination of human curation and software that will scan a variety of publications, people familiar with the plans said.

Garnering consumer attention for a startup news-aggregation product could be difficult. To manage the project, News Corp has brought in Noah Kotch, a veteran media executive who has previously worked for NBC News and Fox News, in addition to an earlier stint at News Corp, the people familiar with the plans said.

News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson has been a vocal critic of Google and Facebook and how the algorithms built into their platforms affect the reach publishers get for their news articles. Mr. Thomson has suggested the creation of a so-called Algorithm Review Board that would allow for more transparency into how they operate.

In 2017, following pushback from News Corp and other companies, Google said it was ending a policy that downgraded articles in search rankings if they required users to have a subscription to read them. Still, concerns from publishers have persisted over a range of issues.

By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Lillian Rizzo

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