‘Project Neon’ will be controlled by Archant, the East-Anglian publisher behind the Eastern Daily Press and several local London publications, but completely funded by the Silicon Valley firm.
Facebook (FB) and Google’s duopoly over the $330bn digital advertising market has caused local newspapers across the world to lose revenue and shut down. Between 2005 and 2018, 245 local British news outlets shut down, according to the Press Gazette, a news industry magazine.
Project Neon is Google’s second attempt to bolster this declining local industry, after partnering with McClatchy.
Director of news ecosystem development, Madhav Chinnappa, stated that local news groups were essential services keeping people “informed about their communities and the news they care about.” He admitted that the “tech industry...has contributed many of the problems local news face”.
The partnership with the 150 year old Archant will establish digital news sites in three British regions trying “different commercial approaches” across three years aiming towards self-sustainability.