Google launches Digital Innovation Fund for Maltese media

The fund is aimed at helping publishers share the risk of taking on new innovative projects to keep up with modern-day media trends 

The fourth round of funding for Google Digital Innovation Fund was launched this morning. 

Through the fund, Google aims to distribute up to €150 million to media organisations and publishers across Europe.

Parliamentary Secretary for the digital economy Silvio Schembri, said the fund aimed to help local media in its drive to be more innovative.

He said that with what has effectively become a 24-hour news cycle, people wanted to access the news, and satisfy their curiosity instantly. 

He said this put more pressure on journalists, who needed to appeal to different audiences with a range of interests, all while having less time to do so.

The fund, he said, would help organisations access the necessary tools to undertake high-quality journalism.

"It's a way of empowering journalism through technology, at a time when journalism is being doubted by many," Schembri said.

He pointed to a recent Eurobarometer survey which found that roughly 86% of the Maltese population believed fake news to be a problem in Malta. The survey also highlighted concerns that such news was a threat the Malta's democracy and in Europe.

Schembri stressed that it was in the government's interest to strengthen journalism, and to give it the tools necessary to flourish.

Speaking during a short panel discussion. Labour MEP Marlene Mizzi spoke about the threat posed to the media by disruptive digital technologies. 

She emphasised that offering opportunities for people to innovate could also unlock the potential in small organisations.