Google India has come out to support left-liberal media content quite explicitly. The world’s biggest search engine and tech major Google has announced that it will launch a news startup in collaboration with an organisation associated with many left-liberal “news portals”.
Google News Initiative (GNI) Startups Lab India:
Google India tweeted, “We’ve got news for those in News. In partnership with DIGIPUB News India Foundation & Echos, we are launching GNI Startups Lab India – an accelerator program tailored to the needs of content startups in India, to help 10 businesses achieve sustainability.”
Under the Google News Initiative (GNI), the tech major will offer a four-month programme that “seeks to help independent local or single-subject journalism organisations find a pathway to financial and operational sustainability through intensive coaching, skills training and other support”.
What is the DIGIPUB News India Foundation:
The DIGIPUB News India Foundation was formed last year. Its founding members are a group of media houses, most of which are left-liberal “news portals” namely Alt News, Article 14, Boomlive, Cobrapost, HW News, Newsclick, Newslaundry, Scroll, The News Minute, The Quint and The Wire.
DIGIPUB News India Foundation is clearly a group of digital publishers that seemingly aims to create a strong leftist ecosystem.
There is reasonable freedom of forming professional associations in India and as such, it is completely alright for left-liberal news portals to coalesce and form something like a DIGIPUB News India Foundation.
However, with the entire history of portals like The Wire, Alt News and Scroll publishing content that strongly leans towards the left-liberal ideology, we are befuddled as to how could Google support “independent local or single-subject journalism organisations.”
Newsclick facing money laundering allegations:
Newsclick, one of the founding members of the DIGIPUB News India Foundation, is facing a money laundering case arising out of an FIR lodged by the Delhi Police alleging that PPK Newsclick Studio Pvt Ltd received an FDI of Rs 9.59 crore from Worldwide Media Holdings LLC USA during the financial year 2018-19. The FIR claimed that the FDI was made after overvaluing the shares of the company to bypass the 26 per cent limit on FDI in a digital news website.
Presently, the abovementioned FDI and another receipt of Rs 20.92 crore shown as receipts for “export of services” is reportedly under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
It is further alleged by sources that money received by NewsClick from US-based companies was used to make payments for “petty maintenance work”, to a “NewsClick stakeholder who maintains the social media accounts of the CPI(M)”, and Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case. Prabir Purkayastha, who was recently granted interim protection in the case by Delhi High Court, is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Newsclick. Prabir is also the Vice Chairperson of DIGIPUB News India Foundation.
At the end of the day, we don’t expect much from big tech. However, Google’s latest initiative to partner with a left-liberal portals group speaks volumes of its political bias.