A new study from News Media Alliance claims that Google has made $4.7b in advertising from news content, almost as much as the revenue of the entire news industry. However, some have raised critiques to argue that News Media Alliance used unclear methodologies, and Google has responded to say that the numbers are inaccurate. Google also commented that their search engine has brought 10 billion clicks to news websites, creating value for the publishers by driving subscriptions and ad revenue.

Yet, although it may be inaccurate, the report is said to highlight the news industry’s heavy reliance on big tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple for distribution. These companies are profiting disproportionately from the partnership. The president of the news alliance hopes for the distribution partners to improve the partnership deal with the news publishers to work towards a more sustainable future for digital news.

Read the full article on The Guardian: Google made $4.7bn from news sites in 2018, study claims


The that News Media Alliance (NMA) made on Google profiting disproportionately from news publishers is said to have been made to advance its interest in getting a better deal for news sites. However, other parties have made their counter-claims that the revenue number provided by NMA were extrapolated based on a figure taken from a comment made by a Google executive in 2008. Therefore, the validity of this extrapolation and claim by NMA is in question.

Many news outlets have also reported the number from NMA, and it brings to question the fact-checking vehicle of the news media today. In response to changing consumer behavior on digital platforms, news outlets today spend less time on the fact-checking process with the aim of pushing news out fast. The swift pace of reporting also makes writers more prone to errors as compared to before.

As for the validity of the argument that big tech companies such as Google profit disproportionately in the content creation-distribution arrangements, it is unclear. It may only be possible to ascertain when the companies are transparent about the revenue that they receive as well as its source.  

Questions for further personal evaluation:

  1. To what extent can we trust news sites to give accurate reports today?
  2. How can we be more conscious about what we read?

Useful vocabulary:

  1. ‘vexed’: difficult and much debated; problematic