Some of New Zealand’s biggest media firms - and several smaller ones - will receive a windfall from Google to help them invest in journalism and their businesses under new deals.
The Herald revealed tonight that eight media firms were involved - Stuff, The Spinoff, Allied Press (publisher of the Otago Daily Times), Mahurangi Matters/Hibiscus Matters, Gisborne Herald, Wairarapa Times-Age, Ashburton Guardian and the Wanaka App.
Many of the firms have been part of a collective group negotiating with Google.
NZME, the publisher of the NZ Herald, signed a similar five-year deal with Google last year while RNZ and South Island-based Crux also have deals in place.
The new deals were to be announced overnight tonight - just a few weeks before the Government plans to introduce new legislation to bring social media giants to the table to force them to negotiate financial arrangements with New Zealand media companies over the use of journalism and content on their digital platforms.
A Google public relations spokeswoman emailed Media Insider this evening, saying: “I have a press release (regarding Google and news) that is under embargo until 12.01am NZT, Thursday 15 June. If you’re happy to agree to the embargo I can share it with you?”
Media Insider advised Google not to send the press release to us until it’s actually released.
The Google PR spokeswoman then sent a quote from Caroline Rainsford, the country director for Google New Zealand, who said the agreements showed Google’s “ongoing commitment to New Zealand’s news industry”.
“We’re so pleased to be continuing to bring a broad spectrum of Aotearoa’s publications to more audiences through Google News Showcase - with digital natives like Spinoff and Wanaka App to heritage mastheads from Stuff and Allied Press, through to truly local public interest journalism from Gisborne Herald and Ashburton Guardian.
“Many of these titles have served their communities for decades, providing vital news and information to their regions. We’re pleased to reach these agreements to help support public interest journalism in New Zealand.”
The full media release followed soon afterwards and comes almost a year to the day since NZME announced a five-year deal with Google.
At the time, NZME said the deal - its value was not specifically disclosed - would support “a number of digital transformation initiatives”. NZME supplies journalism and content to Google’s News Showcase platform as part of the deal.
NZME chief executive Michael Boggs said at the time the Google agreement supported NZME’s focus on digital transformation, and highlighted the company’s high-quality journalism and news content.
“We are pleased to have signed these agreements with Google and to be able to now progress these digital transformation projects and initiatives. NZME’s 300 editorial staff in our newsrooms across the country work tirelessly every day to provide high-quality, trusted news content across our many platforms. Being able to further extend their reach, highlight their talent and share their content through Google News Showcase is a really positive development.”
In April, Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson told Media Insider: “We have to, before the election, get this online news bill up.”
That bill is designed to get the digital giants – including Google and Meta and any future platforms – to come to the party to help fund news media companies for the journalism and content that helps attract and engage audience to their mega-platforms.
Unless the giants can strike deals with news media companies, they will be forced to the table under the new legislation, expected to be before Parliament by July.
Jackson said at the time that all New Zealand media companies, big and small, needed reassurance, to help fund newsrooms and journalism. “It’s been really tough for the media companies. I want to see a fair and even playing field for all companies.”
He said he had been briefed that Google was doing more deals. Some local companies were doing one- or two-year deals, ahead of the legislation, and as an urgent measure to get money in the door.
Deals were important to help preserve journalists’ roles – it was “crazy”, Jackson said, that 50 per cent of journalist roles had been lost in the past decade.