The Google News Initiative, which claims to support quality journalism around the world, has selected the pro-gov’t Demirören Media Group as the Turkish media group that it will support with funding in its GNI Innovative Challenges Project.
The initiative funded 108 projects from 39 countries across the world, granting as much as $150,000 to each project. The Demirören Media Grup has not announced how much money it has received from Google.
The Demirören Holding company is known for being close to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). It purchased the Doğan Media Group in 2018, after the latter faced years of pressure by the government which led to it increasingly curbing its critical editorial line before deciding to sell to Demirören, which has transformed the agency into another pro-government outlet.
Google’s decision to fund the Demirören Media Group was met with fierce reaction by critics, as the media group fired a number of its journalists last year who have still not received their severance packages. Critics have also blasted the group’s main newspapers Hürriyet and Milliyet as not actually doing journalism but manipulating Google searches in order to general digital traffic and ad revenue.
While the initiative funded multiple projects in other countries, namely 29 from the US and 15 from Brazil, the Demirören Media Group was the only outlet in Turkey to receive funding from Google.