Back in the day, a decade or so ago, Google’s founders were interested in news and then, when publishers attacked them, they pulled back and — Google News aside — pretty much gave up on news.

Then, of course, German publishers cashed in their political capital and got the Leistungsschutzrecht (ancillary copyright) passed and drove the EU to investigate Google for antitrust.

And Google learned a lesson: It had no choice but to deal with news. Then came the Digital News Initiative, Newsgeists in the US and Europe and Latin America, and the Google News Lab. Today, Google has, all in all, a good relationship with journalistic institutions.

Facebook started down the same path with its Facebook Journalism Project and the News Integrity Initiative (which I started with considerable funding from — but also independence from — Facebook). Then this. In your telling regarding China and the inconvenience of news, Wolfgang, I am reminded of Larry Page’s reaction to news years ago.

I don’t think ignoring news — and with it public responsibility for regarding one’s role in informing society — is possible anymore. We shall see.

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Blogger & prof at CUNY’s Newmark J-school; author of Geeks Bearing Gifts, Public Parts, What Would Google Do?, Gutenberg the Geek

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