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<nettime> Kieran McCarthy: EL Reg's application to Google's EU150m journ
nettime's_omphalosceptic on Sun, 25 Oct 2015 03:34:27 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Kieran McCarthy: EL Reg's application to Google's EU150m journalism fund

< http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/10/24/googles_150m_journalism_fund/?mt=1445729288396 >

We applied to Google's EU150m journalism fund -- here's what we sent in

Now we play the waiting game

24 Oct 2015 at 01:56, Kieren McCarthy

We here at El Reg were very excited on Friday morning to note the
launch of a new EU150m ($165m) journalism fund called the Digital
News Initiative, funded by everyone's favorite news service,

The initiative's goal is to "support high-quality journalism
through technology and innovation" and you are able to apply
online for anything up to EU1 million.

This is great news. Despite an increase in interest in online
news, the fact remains that proper journalism, especially
investigative journalism, is expensive and time consuming.

And in this vacuum of scrutiny, there is one company in
particular whose enormous power and resources and its willingness
to use them to push its agenda to the detriment of all else means
it is crying out to be the focus of concerted journalistic

Whether it is lobbying the White House and regulators to grant it
a special carve-out in net neutrality rules, or forfeiting half a
billion dollars to the US government for running dodgy drug
adverts, or using its search engine results to muscle out
competitors and reap the financial rewards, or analyzing and
storing every waking minute of our lives, Google is probably the
most persistently dangerous force in our modern online existence.

And so that's why we have applied to Google's Digital News
Initiative today seeking just EU250,000 for a focused effort on
making the search giant accountable by using journalistic skills
combined with modern internet technology.

We have titled the project: "Investigating abuses by Google," and
we believe we are the first applicant to the program.

Below then are the key elements of our application form. We look
forward to hearing back from Google so we can start working on
dismantling its carefully constructed ivory tower.

8. Please provide your project title. (max 300 characters)*

	Investigating abuses by Google

9. Please provide a brief overview of the project. (max 1200

	The project would use a combination of traditional news gathering
	skills and modern communication tools to gather data around a
	range of practices performed by internet search engine giant
	Google, in an effort to expose potential wrongdoing or abuse of
	market power.

	In particular, the project would focus on:

		The skewing of search results.

		The tracking of right-to-be-forgotten requests performed by

		The size, breadth, and impact of Google's news service on online
		news sites, looking in particular at the phenomenon of stories
		written specifically to gather Google News traffic and any
		possible negative impact on quality journalism due to biases in
		the Google News algorithm.

		A logging and policy-tracking service to discern the impact of
		Google lobbying activities on policies and laws developed in
		Washington DC. An open source complaints system focused on
		gathering early warning signs of abuse of market power by Google.

		A "revolving door" service that specifically tracks current and
		former Google employees to identify how informal social networks
		may be used to influence public policy.

10. Please describe your project in more detail, including the
specific outcome you want to achieve and its broader impact. (max
5000 characters)*

	The project would be an innovative effort to improve
	accountability around one specific company -- Google.

	Using a combination of traditional news-gathering skills,
	extensive data gathering from many different sources, and
	cutting-edge analytics, the project would identify, if they
	exist, examples of where Google was abusing its market power or
	misleading others in furtherance of its own corporate goals.

	The project would use the latest technologies to gather data from
	a wide range of public sources in an effort to discern patterns.
	These patterns would then be used as the start point for
	journalistic investigations into potential abuses of power by
	Google and its employees.

	The details of investigations would be posted online in an effort
	to encourage crowdsourcing of additional material. Stories would
	then be professionally directed and edited and posted online as
	well as syndicated to other news outlets.

11. What makes your project innovative? Provide a quick
description of the technological and editorial components and
describe the deliverable product. (max 5000 characters)

	The project would combine traditional news gathering with the
	data-gathering potential of the internet in order to discern
	unusual patterns.

	Initial details of investigations would be posted online in order
	to encourage others to provide additional evidence to build into
	a firmer, crowdsourced story. Specific attention would be given
	to identifying and protecting potential whistleblowers inside
	Google in order to build up a solid case.

	A new data gathering process would pull in details from a
	multitude of public sources and combine them to find patterns.
	For example, the visitor logs of the White House would be
	periodically inputted and then cross-referenced with the
	activities of Google representatives in order to discern efforts
	to sway particular legislation.

	Similarly, broader efforts by the search engine giant to profit
	from its market power would be achieved by analyzing vast
	datasets to look for inconsistencies and potential financial
	benefits from them.

	The goal would be to build a complete overview of a single
	organization's activities so that it was possible to identify
	anything that may be newsworthy or suspicious.



14. How are other organizations tackling this topic and what
approaches have been tried in the past? Feel free to mention
successful or not so successful examples. (max 4000 characters)

	Many large news organizations have used traditional news skills
	to find out how Google may be abusing its significant power to
	its own ends, but these are often inefficient and reliant on a
	small number of people finding small indicators and then digging
	into them in order to find more information.

	Such an approach is time consuming and rarely heralds good
	stories. Typically, a story requires someone from within the
	organization to provide details on something they are unhappy
	about. Or reporting is based on external organizations carrying
	out investigations in response to competitor complaints.

	Good examples would be the antitrust investigations carried out
	by the US government and European Commission into Google;
	lawsuits taken out against Google over alleged search-result
	manipulation; lawsuits over the "right to be forgotten," and so

15. Provide a budget describing the main costs of your project
including your expenditures. First, please review the list of
Eligible Expenses in the Application Terms and Conditions. (max
6000 characters)*

	Dedicated team of three journalists: 150,000

	Data gathering and analysis tools: 50,000

	Online tools for crowdsourcing: 50,000

16. What are the key indicators you will use to track progress
towards the outcome you described previously? (max 5000

	Arrival of data and connections made with internal

	Lines of inquiry causing an aggressive response from Google.

17. If available, please provide an overview of the monetization
plan of your project. (max 5000 characters)

	Stories exposing alleged wrongdoing at Google are unlikely to
	draw huge online audiences.

	Advertisements placed on the same page as the stories would bring
	in significant income, i.e., traditional online news revenue.

	The system when fully developed, tested, and tweaked to analyze
	data around a single organization as well as provide ways to feed
	in crowdsourced data would be extremely valuable to other news
	organizations and could be sold or leased.

18. Please provide specific milestones and planning (initiation,
definition, design, implementation, follow-up). (max 3000

	Development of systems.

	Identification of new team.

	Gathering of data.

	Analysis of data and system recognizing and highlighting

	First initiation with an internal whistleblower.

	First publication of an initial scoping investigation.

	First legal threat from Google.

	First batch of negative publicity against program fed by Google's

	First completed and published story.

	Thank you for submitting your application to the DNI Innovation
	Fund! Your application reference number is: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.
	Please make a note of this reference number, as we will need this
	to be able to help you with any communication about your
	application. We've sent you a confirmation email with your
	application reference number. If you have any questions about
	your application, please email dnifund {AT} google.com. The DNI
	Innovation Fund Project Team (Please check your spam folder to
	make sure you don't miss our email!)

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