It needs to generate a $100-million innovation fund, open to new and old entities alike, to enable a swifter, stronger transition to the digital age.
The funds are an infinitesimal portion of its $20 billion in annual revenue, but it would send a signal of altruism in a time of journalistic need, Massing suggests.
"It would support start-ups and fledgling enterprises engaged in investigation, international reporting, policy analysis, blogging, and other forms of probing and provocative reporting and commentary undertaken by the independent journalists who, given the severe retrenchment taking place at traditional organizations, are making up an ever-larger part of the field," he writes.
"Having built its empire in part through the distribution of free news content over the Internet, it’s time for it to give back a small portion of its vast earnings to help usher in the new era of digital news. Doing so would be good not only for journalism but also for Google itself, helping to restore its image as a public-spirited innovator rather than a blood-sucking predator."