For years, Google and Facebook wanted to have it both ways. They wanted publishers’ content to attract and retain users, but they didn’t want to pay for it. They wanted to publishers to create content and test new products they were trying, but they didn’t want them to build businesses that relied on those products.
At one point early last year, Facebook’s point person on the news industry, Campbell Brown, gave publishers some tough talk: “Facebook cannot be the entire solution to your problems,” she told a room full of magazine publishers.
But today, in the middle of a shared economic downturn, Facebook and Google are playing a larger role in the future of news publishers. Over the next few months, Google and Facebook will, combined, spend close to a quarter billion dollars supporting local news, through a combination of emergency relief grants, extra marketing dollars earmarked for ads on publishers’ sites, and the waiving of fees Google normally collects from its ad server.
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