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The Digital News Initiative is an European organisation established by Google to support high quality journalism across the continent. It encompasses an "innovation fund" of more than euro 150m, which in this year issued 23 grants to four organizations at different news organisations in Europe. This initiative is part of the new Digital News guidelines and will enable digital news publishers to submit articles to web sites owned by them. It also provides editors with easy-to-use software for developing stories and adding multimedia elements. All this is done in compliance with the new guidelines of the RSS and WWW consortium.
An initiative that started life as an innovation program for one small newspaper in the United Kingdom has now spread all over the world. In fact, the Digital News Initiative has been branded the "new news industry" because it has the potential to bring about major changes in the way newsrooms operate. The main driving force behind the initiative is Google's belief that by improving the overall quality of digital news publishers can attract more internet visitors and in turn, increase their search engine rankings. This will help them generate organic traffic. Ultimately, this leads to higher advertising revenue.
In this sense, the Digital News Initiative is very successful. At the same time, it faces some significant barriers. Chief among these is the lack of knowledge and understanding about the basic principles of this innovative programme. Lack of information creates major gaps between understanding and adoption of new technological innovations. Therefore, while the digital news initiative is indeed a great opportunity for Europe, it needs to be understood that it is yet to realize its true potential.
The European media and communications society as a whole are waiting for the results of the Digital News Initiative in order to fully utilize its potential. However, a key obstacle facing the European digital news initiative is the absence of a dedicated yet formal working group in charge of monitoring progress made. As such, there is no one accountable for ensuring that the initiative's activities are achieving what has been set out. In fact, there are no specific benchmarks to compare the ongoing performance. In short, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to ensure that this innovative platform contributes to the betterment of the continent as a whole.
A dedicated reviewing body should make sure that the goals of the Digital News Initiative are being properly met. In addition to looking into the impact and success of the initiative on individual sectors, the working group should also examine the impact of the programme on the broader basis. For instance, do the developments in the digital news industry have any implications for the rest of the continent? Does the increased level of awareness across different sectors have any effect on the manner in which journalism is done in Europe? How does the programme fit into the changing landscape of online media?
One way to assess the potential impact of the Digital News Initiative for the wider context is by looking at the different changes in the press and broadcasting sector that have taken place over the past few years. The growth of digital news publishers, the increasing focus on online and social media, and the rise of multi-screen platforms are only some of the factors behind the recent surge in interest in digital journalism. In addition, the increase in the number of newspapers and magazine s published in Europe has meant that digital news is more widely read there than ever before. Therefore, the working group for the Digital News Initiative should consider how these trends could affect the future development of the publishing industry in the region.
It is important to establish what role the Digital News Initiative can play in helping to shape the future of European journalism. The working group should look closely at the kinds of journalism that are already taking place. What kinds of stories are currently shaping the way in which certain business interests communicate with their customers? The digital industry may not be ready to take on the kind of editorial responsibilities that established media houses have traditionally taken on, but the initiative can help to shape the kind of reporting that is more tailored to the business interests that are shaping the news.
The growing digital market in Europe has provided an opening for new media players to penetrate the market. However, there has been little effort from traditional publishers to create platforms that can compete with the increasing number of websites and blogs that are being published on a daily basis. Digital news publishers can do far more than just provide a platform for reporting, as they have a much larger potential to impact the way that business interests are shaped and communicated to consumers. The working group for the Digital News Initiative should continue to look at the implications of the increasing number of business interests shaping the news.
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