January 29, 2020 / 9:12 PM / 20 days ago

News Corp. launches news aggregation site Knewz to counter Facebook, Google

(Reuters) - What if Rupert Murdoch redesigned Google News?

News Corp (NWSA.O) on Wednesday launched a free news aggregation service, Knewz, to address its long-held criticism of how Google and Facebook (FB.O) treat publishers and journalists.

The service uses artificial intelligence to scan more than 400 national and local news sources across the political spectrum - including Mother Jones, Washington Examiner, and The Nation - and relies on a small team of editors and technical staff to curate articles.

News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson and Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch have criticized Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google and Facebook for siphoning the profits out of the news business by not adequately paying publications for content and preventing smaller publications from showing up in Google searches and Facebook feeds.

News Corp - which publishes the Wall Street Journal - designed Knewz to show that a service can aggregate news in a publisher-friendly manner, according to a News Corp spokesman - by honoring the source of a scoop and not the website that rewrites it quickly, by including a publication’s logo, and by featuring a range of publications.

Last September, Google disclosed changes to its search algorithm to give more prominence to original reporting. Publishers have complained for years that the search giant has rewarded companies that quickly aggregate original reporting from other news organizations.

Knewz links directly to publishers’ websites, and plans to share data with them. The service, now ad-free in beta, may eventually include advertising. It is available on desktop, mobile and mobile app.

Knewz “is not egregious aggregation but generous aggregation,” News Corp CEO Thomson said in a statement. “There are mastheads from across the political and regional spectrum, and premium publishers will not be relegated in the rankings.”

Facebook and Google could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Helen Coster; Editing by Kenneth Li and Jonathan Oatis

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