With the proliferation of new technologies threatening to upend journalism as we know it, news outlets have concerned themselves with how to reinvent their existence online.
DW caught up with Gerrit Rabenstein, who heads Google’s strategic partnerships, publishing and news in Europe, at the International Press Institute’s World Congress to discuss how technology can help shape the future of journalism in a positive way.
Deutsche Welle: How do you envision the future of journalism?
I see so many new initiatives at the grassroots level that are extremely colorful and very innovative, and sometimes trying to go deep and far. I’m extremely optimistic we will find new ways.
Those ways will look different than the ways we do news business today, the ways legacy players do today. But I’m sure that from this new wave of journalistic makers, new ideas will emerge.
How do you envision Google’s role in facilitating this future for journalism?
We are participating with small and big startups, institutions and academics within the Digital News Initiative in a discussion about the future of journalism. We are engaging there in a discussion about new business models, about new ways of distributing content.
In the discussion with the news industry, we are one player among others. Journalists play a role, publishers play a role, tech companies play a role.
We’d love to see more tech companies engaging in this discussion, because I honestly and seriously only believe that we can solve the problems facing the industry if we come together and think from our different perspectives on this hard nut to crack: What does sustainable journalism look like in the future?
What are the challenges to bringing about this future Google is helping to build?
The challenge for the news ecosystem is that the changes taking place in the industry are happening so incredibly fast. We went from print to digital, from digital to mobile. Tomorrow, the topic will be machine learning.
So you have to build your news production company a new engine while its still running. The challenges don’t get smaller. The challenges remain, or even increase or accelerate.
In this complex world for news, there is no single silver bullet. The answer will be addressed very precisely for one player, and each player has to find the answer that fits for him or her.
Concerning so-called “fake news,” which many in the industry have seen as an existential threat, how does Google tackle this problem?
We work on the topic of false news or misinformation at various ends. Internally, we updated our guidelines and made them much more strict. We launched something called the “fact check” label, which is open source software that a publisher can add to an article, a fact-checked article, and we can better surface that to an asked question.
We also updated our rater guidelines so that the folks who have a second look at the quality of search results can…