Google News Showcase launches in Australia, with publisher ACM curating its news coverage in Canberra, Newcastle, Wollongong

Google News Showcase allows news publishers to curate their journalism for users rather than relying solely on Google's algorithm to surface their articles.
Google News Showcase allows news publishers to curate their journalism for users rather than relying solely on Google's algorithm to surface their articles.

Regional media company ACM, the owner of this masthead, has joined other Australian independent publishers in the launch of a curated news experience to reach Google users.

Google News Showcase, announced last year as part of the internet giant's $US1billion global investment in news partnerships, went live on Friday morning across a number of Australian news brands, including ACM's Canberra Times, Newcastle Herald and Illawarra Mercury.

The new digital product allows publishers to control when and how their news content is presented to readers rather than relying solely on Google's algorithm to surface their articles.

Content published in Google News Showcase is curated in "panels", which carry the publication's branding and are designed to engage mobile users and make it easier for them to find, browse and access articles.

Google says it has signed News Showcase deals with seven Australian publishers with 25 titles, including The Saturday Paper, The Conversation and The New Daily.

ACM has started using the tool to post content from three of its most popular news websites, including the latest local headlines curated for morning audiences in Canberra, Newcastle and Wollongong.

The approach will be extended to all 14 of the company's daily mastheads over the coming weeks, including The Examiner in Tasmania and Bendigo Advertiser in Victoria.

Australian media company ACM will extend Google News Showcase to all 14 of its daily newspapers, which serve Canberra and key regional population centres.

Australian media company ACM will extend Google News Showcase to all 14 of its daily newspapers, which serve Canberra and key regional population centres.

ACM managing director Tony Kendall said Google News Showcase demonstrated the willingness of Google and key Australian publishers to find mutual ground.

Amid vigorous debate over the federal government's new mandatory News Media Bargaining Code, ACM supports the objectives of the code while also striving to work constructively with Google.

"As a digital and content focused media company serving Australia's major regional population centres, ACM is always looking for new ways for our trusted news brands to deliver their unrivalled local news coverage to the widest possible audience," Mr Kendall said.

"Whether it's on our new apps or our websites, via podcasts, social media, newsletters or the printed newspaper, we want the journalism of mastheads like The Canberra Times and Newcastle Herald to reach our communities wherever they are."

Mr Kendall said News Showcase was "an opportunity for our 14 daily titles to curate their trusted local journalism for Google News users".

"We are working constructively with Google to explore the exciting potential of this product to engage mobile audiences," he said.

Australia's largest independent media organisation with a network of 150 newspapers and websites stretching into every state and territory, ACM is owned by Antony Catalano and Alex Waislitz's ASX-listed Thorney Investment Group.

Google says its Showcase deals support the production of Australian journalism by providing partner publishers with monthly licensing fees and in some cases payment for free access to selected subscriber content.

In a blog statement posted on Friday morning, Google head of news, web and publishing product partnerships Kate Beddoe said the initial publishers featured in the Australian launch were providing early feedback and input on how the product could help bring their journalism to the fore for readers.

"Now that News Showcase is live in Australia, it is even easier for people to find valuable content from the news organisations they trust or discover new publications covering their interests and the places they care about, " Ms Beddoe said.

"We are looking forward to bringing more Australian media partners on board in the coming weeks and months as we further build out the experience for publishers and users."

More than 450 publications from a dozen countries, including Germany's Der Spiegel and France's Le Monde, as well as global news agency Reuters have signed up to use Google's new product.

The federal government's media bargaining code would force Google and Facebook to make commercial agreements to pay Australian news businesses for their content or risk hefty fines of up to 10 per cent of their annual revenues.

Google has deemed the mechanics of the code "unworkable" but Microsoft, owner of rival search engine Bing, has welcomed the regulation.

Google hopes to convince MPs and Senators that instead of requiring payment for linking to websites, news publishers could be paid under the code through Google News Showcase.

"We're confident that News Showcase offers a fair, practical way forward for publishers to generate revenue by curating and featuring their content on this product," Ms Beddoe said.

The bargaining code legislation is being examined by a Senate committee which is due to deliver its report on February 12.

Last month, Google created international headlines when it threatened to switch off its search function in Australia if the code became law, a step Google Australia managing director Melanie Silva told Senators was "a worst-case scenario".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday after talks with global Google boss Sundar Pichai that he had encouraged the $US1trillion tech giant "to engage with the process, and conclude the arrangements we'd like to see them conclude with the various news organisations".

"I think we have been able to get that into a much more positive space about their ability to continue to provide services here in Australia," Mr Morrison said.

You can follow ACM's brands on Google News via the Google News app or on news.google.com.

This story ACM partners with Google to showcase local news first appeared on The Canberra Times.