"We want to help people find quality journalism—it's important to informed democracy and helps support a sustainable news industry," Google said in a statement shared by WSJ. "We care deeply about this and are talking with partners and looking at more ways to expand our ongoing work with publishers, building on programmes like our Google News Initiative."
According to people familiar with the matter, Google is mostly speaking with publishers outside of the US, including some in France and Europe. The content could appear in a free Google product.
Licensing deals could be a huge win for news organizations. Google sends tons of traffic to news sites, but so far, it hasn't paid organizations for their content directly. Apple's potentially similar product, Apple News+, kicked off last year, offering over 300 magazines and periodicals for $9.99, and Facebook began rolling out its news tab last fall. According to WSJ, Facebook told news outlets that it would pay as much as $3 million a year to license content.