Tag Archives: Google News Initiative

Go beyond the headlines with Google News

Last year, we redesigned Google News with one goal in mind: to help people understand the world through quality, trustworthy and enjoyable news. Today, we’re expanding on that mission by surfacing more in-depth content that highlights and explores key issues in our society.

With Beyond the Headlines in Google News, we want to recognize publishers that are investing in diving deeper into the headlines and moving past the who, what and when to explore the why and how. Keeping these stories visible beyond the fast daily news cycle, Beyond the Headlines connects readers with in-depth articles exploring important issues such as healthcare, the environment, education and more.

Whether you’re short on time or ready to dive deep into a topic, Beyond the Headlines will help you manage your time with an estimated read-time feature, letting you know how long it takes to read a story. 

The stories are surfaced and organized using our Google News algorithms. Users can find the feature on the right side of news.google.com, and it is now available on desktop globally in U.S. English. More languages and a mobile version are planned for 2020.

Newsmakers: Fact-checking in Australia with Holly Nott

From claims about government spending to activists interfering with cattle trucks, the Australian Associated Press, or AAP for short, fact-checks all types of stories. As Australia’s national news agency, AAP generates stories and images for an expanding group of Australian publishers. They also work with a network of partner agencies to provide comprehensive global news, complemented by the work of its own staff in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. 

Managing Editor Holly Nott is central to planning and executing coverage of major events, including the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup. Late last year, with state-level and national elections on the horizon, Holly and her team sought to bring fact checking to the AAP landscape, with the support of Google News Initiative. That work later allowed AAP’s fact-checking to become a permanent part of the Australian media landscape.

In the latest Newsmakers interview, Holly shares her story about how she became a journalist and how her team works to verify stories, share lessons for the industry and collaborate with Australian newsrooms.  

How did you first get started in journalism? 

My older brother was the first person in our family to go to college, and he forged the path into journalism that I ended up following. During high school, I spent two weeks at one of the newspapers where he'd worked, and I absolutely loved it. As a kid from a country town that was barely on the map, I saw journalism as the gateway to a big, exciting, interesting life. My mother founded and edited our little community newspaper, so she had already shown me the positive impact journalism could have. It was a natural progression for me to finish school, complete a journalism degree and then get my first job at a regional daily newspaper. 

Break this down for the non-experts: How does your team go about fact-checking a claim?

The AAP FactCheck team begins each day by scouring traditional and social media looking for claims that don't ring true. For traditional media we have a strict set of criteria to meet when it comes to claim selection. We only check claims made in direct speech attributed to influential people. For social media content, we are looking for any questionable subject matter that is relevant to our Australian audience, but there must be a benefit for them in proving it to be correct or incorrect. We assess what elements of the claim need to be verified, brainstorm the sources we can use and then begin the research. Once we have the information, we write an evidence-led draft and suggest a verdict. The team discusses the verdict and it is either endorsed or revisited before the copy is sub-edited and published.

AAP began fact-checking ahead of an election. How is fact-checking different during an election cycle?

During the election period, we needed to be as responsive to the news cycle as possible if we wanted to be relevant. We had a one-day turn-around time for our fact-checks - which set us apart from other fact-checking models at that time. Several months down the line, the new government has settled in and we have dialed back the pace of our fact-checking so we can  expand our scope into social media content.

What distinguishes fact-checking as a form of reporting from traditional reporting?

The demands of the news cycle mean there often isn't time for us to take a deep dive into an issue unless it is at the top of our list of priorities. Fact-checking gives us permission to do just that. We often have to get right into the minutiae of an issue, and then dig around in that space for a while. When we are writing, we just go where the evidence leads us and we only produce content based on the facts. It is a very pure form of journalism.

How does the AAP balance new technology with journalistic standards? 

Our company is great at change and our structure helps us get new ideas up and running quickly - but all innovation should strengthen our commitment to the fundamental principles of journalism. For example, we believe in accuracy and balance, and AAP FactCheck allows us to reinforce that message in a new way. We also believe journalism can be an incredibly positive force. To explore this idea, a senior staff member has started a five-month study of the emerging concept of constructive journalism, which emphasizes solution-focused news. AAP Deputy Editor Joanne Williamson is currently a fellow at the Constructive Institute in Denmark, working to understand how we can counter the negativity bias and reactive nature of much news reporting and help our clients re-engage with their audiences in a more positive way.

A call for the next big ideas in news

This time last year, we launched the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge, part of our $300 million commitment to help journalism thrive in the digital age.  

With our first challenge, we funded23 projects focused on diversifying reader revenue in the Asia Pacific region. Since then, we’ve launched challenges in North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, receiving more than 1,300 project submissions from 77 countries--and recently selected 64 more projects for funding. 

Today, we’re opening our second challenge in Asia Pacific. This time, we’re calling for projects which aim to increase reader engagement. The more deeply people engage with the stories they read, the more likely they are to return to a news website, visit more pages during a session, sign up for an email newsletter and become subscribers.  

We’re interested in hearing about creative ideas around reader engagement, including but not limited to personalization, analytics, audio and loyalty programs. And the Innovation Challenge is open to organizations of every size--startups, NGOs, broadcasters, traditional news publishers and freelancers--so long as they can clearly show the impact of the project from a reader’s perspective, and deliver it within a year. 

The application window for project submissions is open until January 7, 2020, and you can read more about the eligibility, rules and criteria and funding at the Google News Initiative website or at a town hall on November 13. 

To find out more about the results of the first round of funding, we spoke to Disha Mullick of Khabar Lahariya, who has created a new subscription model around a video series about young people in rural India.

How did you develop this subscription model?

We initially talked about aiming the subscription model at our primary, rural audience. The dream is for this audience to become our strongest, most loyal subscribers. But discussions internally with the Google News Initiative and with our peers in digital media pushed us to test the idea with our urban, English-speaking audience first. 

Our vision is to take hyper-local content and voices to a broader audience through immersive video storytelling. Embedded reporters would help link these local stories to global shifts in gender and power, technology, environmental change and financial instability. If this platform works, we’ll adapt it to other audiences who may take longer to come around to the idea of paying for content. 

What is the long-term plan for growing your subscriber base?      

We plan to create a model that combines the features of a membership model and a digital subscription or paywall--one that’s inclusive of both rural and urban audiences willing to pay for good quality, hyper-local content. We also hope to be able to provide other features, like workshops and fellowships, travel opportunities—perhaps even access to small grants for media or other entrepreneurial projects. 

What advice would you offer the next group of reporters looking to increase reader engagement?  

I can't over-emphasize the impact of investing in local content. Even if that's not what gets monetized easily, it’s what builds trust and credibility, which have been shaken by the amount of misinformation floating about. I also think the way we engage readers needs to be responsible, to counter the state's imperative to control social media or the flow of information on the internet--which may be knee-jerk reactions to the violence and abuse we see. 

Supporting 34 local news projects across North America

From a 148-year-old newspaper to a startup monetizing audio archives, the successful recipients of the first Google News Initiative’s North America Innovation Challenge are as varied as the communities they serve.

These selected projects are from news providers in both rural and urban communities across the region, and are all dedicated to serving a diverse range of audiences. The thing that knits them all together is their passion for local news.

The North America Innovation Challenge was launched in May of this year, and was focused specifically on local news. Within six weeks of opening up this Innovation Challenge, we received 269 applications from 44 states and provinces. After a rigorous review, a round of interviews and a final jury selection process, we selected 34 projects in 17 states and provinces to receive funding amounting to a total of $5.8 million.

GNI North America Innovation Challenge

The call for applications listed four criteria: impact, feasibility, innovation and inspiration. We were looking for applicants focused on generating revenue and/or increasing audience engagement for local news. The successful projects clearly answered this call. Here are just a few challenge winners:


  • A veteran of the digital media industry, Ken Doctor will be testing a new approach to local news discovery, engagement and membership through the Lookout Local startup in Santa Cruz, CA.

  • Graham Media Group will build a membership program to diversify broadcast revenues for local TV news stations in Detroit, Michigan.

  • Canadian start-up Earbank will be helping local news providers access and monetize audio clips (Ontario, Canada).

  • OkayPlayerin Brooklyn, New York will be creating an investigative reporting platform to further engage their African American audience.

  • The Salt Lake Tribune aims to become the first U.S. legacy newspaper to transition to a community asset and operate as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a public board.  The project will develop a playbook to help others who are looking to do the same.

  • The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism will be using text messages to take its solutions journalism to underserved audiences in some of the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee, where Wi-Fi access is low.

  • La Noticia, the main news outlet for the Latino community in Charlotte, North Carolina, will be creating an open-source platform for its audience to be able to publish their own family notices.

You can read the full list of the successful recipients on our website. A second round of theNorth America Innovation Challenge will open for applications next year, and you can watch out for details on our website.

Supporting 34 local news projects across North America

From a 148-year-old newspaper to a startup monetizing audio archives, the successful recipients of the first Google News Initiative’s North America Innovation Challenge are as varied as the communities they serve.

These selected projects are from news providers in both rural and urban communities across the region, and are all dedicated to serving a diverse range of audiences. The thing that knits them all together is their passion for local news.

The North America Innovation Challenge was launched in May of this year, and was focused specifically on local news. Within six weeks of opening up this Innovation Challenge, we received 269 applications from 44 states and provinces. After a rigorous review, a round of interviews and a final jury selection process, we selected 34 projects in 17 states and provinces to receive funding amounting to a total of $5.8 million.

GNI North America Innovation Challenge

The call for applications listed four criteria: impact, feasibility, innovation and inspiration. We were looking for applicants focused on generating revenue and/or increasing audience engagement for local news. The successful projects clearly answered this call. Here are just a few challenge winners:


  • A veteran of the digital media industry, Ken Doctor will be testing a new approach to local news discovery, engagement and membership through the Lookout Local startup in Santa Cruz, CA.

  • Graham Media Group will build a membership program to diversify broadcast revenues for local TV news stations in Detroit, Michigan.

  • Canadian start-up Earbank will be helping local news providers access and monetize audio clips (Ontario, Canada).

  • OkayPlayerin Brooklyn, New York will be creating an investigative reporting platform to further engage their African American audience.

  • The Salt Lake Tribune aims to become the first U.S. legacy newspaper to transition to a community asset and operate as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a public board.  The project will develop a playbook to help others who are looking to do the same.

  • The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism will be using text messages to take its solutions journalism to underserved audiences in some of the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee, where Wi-Fi access is low.

  • La Noticia, the main news outlet for the Latino community in Charlotte, North Carolina, will be creating an open-source platform for its audience to be able to publish their own family notices.

You can read the full list of the successful recipients on our website. A second round of theNorth America Innovation Challenge will open for applications next year, and you can watch out for details on our website.

MediaWise helps millions discern fact and fiction online

Nothing marks the passage of time quite like the changing pace of technology. When I was in high school nearly ten years ago, I didn’t have a smartphone, and there was no Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok. I didn’t have to navigate the world of misinformation the way teens have to today which is something that I can appreciate now that I work for MediaWise. Our goal is to teach one million teens by 2020—with half coming from underserved and low-income communities—the difference between fact and fiction online. 

MediaWise is made possible by the Google News Initiative and is a Google.orgfunded partnership between The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, the Stanford History Education Group, theLocal Media Association and the National Association for Media Literacy Education. As we mark Media Literacy Week in the U.S., MediaWise has surpassed our goal, and we have reached five million people. We’ve been able to hit that number thanks to social media, our MediaWise ambassadors and in-person trainings at schools across the country, and to date we have visited more than 50 schools in 19 states. 

But the part of the MediaWise program I’m most excited about is the Teen Fact Check Network, where I’m recruiting and training our next batch of teens to debunk misinformation by fact checking the internet. Our teens have fact-checked roughly 250 claims they’ve found on social media, covering issues they care about, like climate change, gaming and space exploration

For example, 16-year-old Victoria Foltz recently tackled a story about e-cigarettes after coming across an Instagram post claiming a company was sued for selling “coal-flavored pods to miners.” Here, Foltz gives some tips on how to spot satire.

MediaWise fact check

And Kieran Stenson, also 16, looked into another Instagram claim about Queen Elizabeth II, which said she served as a mechanic and driver in World War II. This claim turned out to be legit.

MediaWise fact check

Our fact-checkers are extremely talented, but even the brightest teenagers still struggle with figuring out what’s real and what’s not on the internet. While editing the work of these teen fact checkers, I’m often asking them, “who is behind the information?” Plus, I teach them skills like lateral reading and reverse image search so they can get to the truth of an online story.   

These teens navigating the constant onslaught of online information are growing up in a very different world than the one I grew up in, and I’m truly grateful they’re playing a crucial part in raising the bar for us all. Yet every now and then they remind me that they’re still teenagers. In one training feedback survey, the suggestion from one student was simply, “GIVE CANDY.”  

You can follow MediaWise onInstagram, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and Facebook

Media literacy for Asia’s next generation

When I served as U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, it often struck me that young people there had vastly more access to news and information than I did when I first lived in that country 20 years earlier—a sign of how things can change for the better from generation to generation.  


The internet has enabled people in Vietnam and across Asia Pacific to learn, connect and express themselves in ways we couldn’t have imagined in the past. We need to keep expanding those opportunities, but we also need to help the next generation explore the internet with confidence as they come online.


As Google marks UNESCO Global Media and Information Literacy Week, we’re building on our efforts to promote media literacy and combat misinformation. We’re constantly working to make a difference with our own products, like improving our algorithms to prioritize authoritative sourcesand original reporting in search results. At the same time, through a $10 million Google News Initiative media literacy campaign funded by Google.org, we’re supporting expert organizations across the region as they develop new approaches for teaching media literacy. 


In Southeast Asia, this includes programs run by the Indonesian Anti-Slander Society and the Child and Youth Media Institute in Thailand to create video teaching tools for local schools, building on a pilot program we developed with the University of Hong Kong. And today we took the next step, announcing that Google.org will support a new initiative run by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication in the Philippines. The funding will enable the AIJC to hold “school summits” across the country, training 300 high school teachers so they can teach media literacy to around 9,000 students each year—helping them tell the difference between misinformation and reliable news online.


We asked Ramon Tuazon, President of the AIJC, to tell us a bit more.  


In 2017, the Philippines became the first country in Asia to make media and information literacy (MIL) part of its high school curriculum. Why is this so important?  


When we first started discussing adding MIL to the curriculum in 2013, we knew we had to address misrepresentation and propaganda in traditional media as well as social media. But we also had to deal with the new challenges the internet has created, including the fact that young people are becoming media literate online before they learn ethics and responsibility in how to use technology.  


With the new campaign, what do you hope students and teachers get out of the experience? 

I hope the students gain new perspectives and better understand how to verify news, deal with their biases and be sensitive to misinformation and disinformation. For teachers, I hope the training helps them learn new, creative and engaging teaching approaches.  Over the long term, I hope both teachers and students will be able to go out and challenge misinformation on social media and other platforms.  

What’s next after this initial campaign? 

We’ll be working closely with the Department of Education to continue improving how we teach media and information literacy as part of the curriculum, including through new tools and better teacher training.  Our challenge is to expand this new initiative nationwide.

Why Mahoning Matters is putting local readers first

Today marks the launch of Mahoning Matters, The Compass Experiment’s first digital-only news outlet, which will serve readers in Youngstown, Ohio and the surrounding Mahoning Valley. We chose our name because it reflects what we believe: The people and happenings of the Mahoning Valley matter. And, when properly informed and engaged, the people have the power to affect change. 

Our mission statement is simple: We seek to tell the stories that matter in Mahoning County and empower citizens to engage in their community with a focus on solutions. We will tell the local stories that aren't being told anywhere else in the Mahoning Valley, focusing on the “how” and “why” behind the news.

The Compass Experiment was founded in partnership between McClatchy and the Google News Initiative’s Local Experiments Project to experiment with a variety of revenue models with the goal of creating local news operations that are financially self-sustaining. After we announced our first site would open in Youngstown, we got to work on building a news outlet with the community in mind. 

The first part of the puzzle was hiring a team with deep local ties to the area. The entire Mahoning Matters team joined us from The Vindicator, Youngstown’s daily newspaper that closed in August 2019 after 150 years in business. Our staff lives and works out in the community every day, often holding team meetings in cafes and libraries where they can best interact with readers.

The second way we put the readers first in building Mahoning Matters was by getting out and talking to them. In August, we held a series of community forums in partnership with the Youngstown and Mahoning County Public Library to find out what readers needed and wanted from a local news site. We also had one-on-one discussions with community leaders and other local media.

Mahoning Matters reader suggestions

Community member suggestions about local news. (Photo by Abby Reimer.)


Attendees at our forums said they wanted a clear-eyed look at their community, highlighting its successes as well as problems to be solved. Above all, they were concerned that Mahoning County was going to lose access to the watchdog reporting that The Vindicator had provided for so many years. 

With a small team, we know we can’t afford to do everything. So we are focusing on topics of utmost importance to those living in the region, which includes coverage of government, healthcare, housing and the local economy as well as community-centric features like obituaries, local events and high school sports. 

Mahoning Matters’ revenue model is centered on content sponsorship, digital advertising and a membership component to be added later. Borrowing from our partners at Village Media, we offer local businesses an in-depth and customizable home within our directory, sponsorships of appealing content categories and locally-focused, brand safe display advertising.

We hope to learn quite a bit about how to sustain original local news from the work of Mahoning Matters, lessons which we will continue to share with the broader media community. In fact, we’ve already learned so much from creating this site that will be helpful as we turn our focus to identifying and creating the next Compass site in the months to come. 

How Google invests in news

Every time you search on Google, there are thousands, sometimes millions, of webpages with helpful information. When you’re looking for news, those pages could be from a large traditional news publisher or a new digital outlet. They could be from a local news site, or a small publisher specializing in health or fitness or food or fashion. Our job is to sort through those and connect you with the most relevant information. 


At the same time, we recognize that the internet has changed the way we find and access information, and that publishers are facing challenging business environments as a result. So I’d like to talk about how we connect people with news and how we support news publishers around the world. 


Our approach to search 


People trust Google to help them find useful and authoritative information, from a diverse range of sources. To uphold that trust, search results must be determined by relevance—not by commercial partnerships


That’s why we don’t accept payment from anyone to be included in search results. We sell ads, not search results, and every ad on Google is clearly marked. That’s also why we don’t pay publishers when people click on their links in a search result. 


To operate in any other way would reduce the choice and relevance to our users—and would ultimately result in the loss of their trust in our services.


At the same time, we work closely with the news industry to provide value to publishers and journalists around the world. We do this in many ways—through Google Search and Google News, which help people find and access news content and enables us to send large amounts of traffic to publishers. We’ve also created advertising and subscription tools that help publishers grow new revenue, and our funding of programs and training as part of the Google News Initiative provides benefits to the news industry.


The changing news industry


When I was growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s, my local newspaper was, in a sense, the internet of my community. It was where I kept up with local events but also where my dad found my first car, where I found my first job, where my mom found recipes for Sunday dinner and discount coupons for the ingredients. Today the internet has dramatically changed how we do all of those things through the vast array of information and services found there.


This shift has affected the revenue streams that publishers have traditionally relied on. Readers no longer go to newspapers for classified listings of jobs, apartments, or used cars. Instead, they go online to access a new world of options, whether that’s apartment listings, or for the latest food and fashion tips, movie reviews and recipes. Advertisers have followed suit, increasing spending on the websites of thousands of online publishers and service providers; they now have enormous choice in how they reach people online. 


How Google provides value to publishers


Advertising remains a key revenue stream for publishers (along with subscriptions)—but they have also shifted their focus to digital. Publishers want to be found by users so they can then grow revenue through ads or by converting readers into loyal subscribers. And Google helps publishers and journalists by helping people find news content and sending them to news sites.


In the world of print, publishers pay newsstands to display their newspapers and magazines so readers can discover them. Google provides this benefit to publishers at no cost. This creates real value: In Europe alone, people click on the news content Google links to more than 8 billion times a month—that’s 3,000 clicks per second we drive to publishers’ own websites. For large news publishers, a study byDeloitte puts the value of each click between 4-6 euro cents. 


Beyond the traffic we send to publishers, we continue to invest in and provide value to the news industry in other ways. Google’s advertising technologies are used by many websites, including news publishers, where publishers retain the vast majority of the ad revenue. In 2018, Google sent more than 14 billion dollars to publishers around the world. 


Our Google News Initiative is investing $300 million to help news publishers around the world develop new products and business models that fit the different publishing marketplace the Internet has enabled. And we continue to make improvements to connect people with news from our products. 


Giving everyone better access to relevant and authoritative news, from a range of diverse sources, helps them stay informed about the news that matters to them. The news industry is fundamental to the health of our open societies and we’re committed to playing our part in ensuring a successful and sustainable future for news.


An experimental lab for local news in the U.K.

A sustainable digital model for local news: That’s the aim of a three-year partnership between Google and U.K. publisher Archant. Project Neon will rethink local news from every perspective, from storytelling to layout, from business models to website design. It builds on Archant’s open-minded approach to building new models for journalism, from the launch of The New European to the archive voice-search platform Local Recall.  

Project Neon will target up to three U.K. communities, identified as being currently underserved by local news. The project will build new all-digital news platforms for those communities, created in a concerted effort to reverse the commercial challenges local news publishers have faced in the past decade.

Archant’s project team will work closely with a team of experts at Google, who are providing funding for the project as part of the Local Experiments Project of the Google News Initiative. Archant is the second partner worldwide in this project, following McClatchy in the United States, which launched their Compass Experiment in March.

The new businesses created under Project Neon will be 100 percent owned and operated by Archant. Google’s interest lies in developing digital business models and operational approaches that can be shared with the wider industry, and while they are providing expertise and funding, they will have no input whatsoever in editorial decision-making. 

We at Archant have been in the news business since 1845, when four free-thinking businessmen launched a weekly newspaper called The Norfolk News. Now, nearly 175 years later, we have a collection of more than 50 local news brands across the U.K. It's no secret that in recent years, our industry has been more challenged than at any other time in its history. But local news is as important as ever, and if we are going to find a sustainable digital-only model, it is bold experiments such as Project Neon that will help provide a pathway to thriving local news.

With support and expertise from the Google News Initiative, I believe Archant has the potential to deliver exciting new solutions for local news brands, not only in the U.K. but also in other parts of the world where the local news business is in decline. We will release more details of the project in the near future, including the locations of our target communities. We will chronicle our successes (and, no doubt, our failures) and share them publicly with the industry at large, enabling other media companies to do similar work.

Nobody can accurately predict how the future of local journalism will look. But with our shared vision for building strong communities, Archant and the Google News Initiative will break new ground towards the goal of a local news industry that not only survives, but thrives. Those interested can sign up to receive updates on Project Neon.