Does Silicon Valley care about journalism?

You’d certainly think so, by the way they’ve been talking lately. Yesterday, Google announced its initiative to fund local news by spending “many millions” on what are essentially grants to news orgs.

On Monday we heard how Apple thinks its News+ service would help sustain quality journalism.

And Facebook is, well, trying something or other.

But are they to be trusted? Emily Bell in the Columbia Journalism Review:

Having spent a lot of time with news executives who work for technology companies, I can say there are plenty of people who are knowledgeable about—and care about—journalism in those companies. Many of them are smart and accomplished journalists who have a genuine zeal for improving journalism. But they are relegated to marginal departments. The core of platform companies is software engineering; they are at the core of our business we are not at the core of theirs. Miles away from the ritzy conferences like Newsgeist and the meetings for Facebook Journalism Project, in the central loci of technology businesses, executives generally don’t care that much about journalism. They see it as the Pluto in their solar system—a part of what they do, but rather small and very far away.  They care about journalism in the same way I care about clean water and aircraft safety—deeply and often—but this does not qualify me to be involved in its development.

We’ve been here before, of course. Many times. When the iPad first launched, its original premise was as a way of consuming digital magazines—until said magazines realised there just wasn’t the consumer desire to pay for what they were making. When Facebook was launching its live platform, and more recently its Watch product, it threw money at news orgs in an attempt to fill those services with quality content. After limited success, Facebook has (mostly) given up.

Perhaps more troubling might be what happens if the companies succeed—and become even more powerful as a result.