August 26, 2019
News Corp is developing Knewz.com, a website and mobile app that aggregates news and is intended to be an alternative to Google News and other platforms that don’t adequately compensate publishers. Sources said that an alpha version of Knewz.com was being shown for News Corp executives and that the company could launch the final product later this year — or decide not to proceed with it. Knewz.com is expected to draw from national news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post and NBC News.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the site will also aggregate news from “digital-native players, magazine publishers and local newspapers.” News Corp will link articles directly to publishers’ sites, not take a cut of the advertising revenue, and will share data with those publishers.
Sources also said that “the service will aim to promote original news reports rather than those that are quick rehashes of existing articles, and it will treat subscription news sites the same as non-subscription sites in determining which articles to link to.” News Corp won’t have to ink licensing deals with media outlets “since it is simply linking out to their sites without hosting their content on its platform or charging for it.”
Another aim of the project is “to give exposure to smaller outlets that News Corp executives believe are often demoted in Google’s search results and Facebook’s social feed … [including] publishers with conservative audiences such as the Daily Wire, the Daily Caller, the Washington Free Beacon and the Washington Examiner.” But it will also link to articles from progressive sites such as Daily Kos and ThinkProgress.”
News Corp is reportedly “preparing an advertising-sales strategy … and there will be a marketing push for the launch.”
“We are exploring this with the goal of recognizing and rewarding the provenance of journalism, and to drive traffic and data to publishers — including subscription sites — so their original work is respected,” said News Corp spokesman James Kennedy. “We want people to see a wide spectrum of news and views, from local, niche and national sources, without bent or bias.”
Human curation and software will scan publications and select stories, said sources. Veteran media executive Noah Kotch will manage Knewz.com. News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson, who has been a critic of Google and Facebook algorithms, “suggested the creation of a so-called Algorithm Review Board that would allow for more transparency into how they operate.”
In response, in 2017, Google ended its policy that “downgraded articles in search rankings if they required users to have a subscription to read them.”