The Globe and Mail's Susan Krashinsky Robertson writes:
"Google Inc. is ending a decade-old policy that asked publishers to open up their paywalls to Google News users, or see their traffic from the search giant drop. And it is announcing that it will work with publishers to help them promote their digital subscriptions.
"The shift comes as the digital giants are facing pressure over their dominance of the information ecosystem online. Both Google and Facebook Inc. have in recent months announced initiatives to promote journalism and to work more collaboratively with news publishers. Google's policy, known as 'first click free,' mandated that publishers with subscription-based websites must allow users clicking on links in Google News to bypass their paywalls on a minimum number of articles each day. Those who did not participate saw their Google News listings ranked lower. It will now replace 'first click free' with what it calls 'flexible sampling,' which will allow publishers to decide how many stories Google News users can read for free before being asked to subscribe. The change is based on tests Google did with the Financial Times and the New York Times."