Tag Archives: Google News Initiative

Helping teens root out misinformation and get media savvy

Editor’s Note: Katy Byron is the Editor and Program Manager of MediaWise at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies. MediaWise is part of the Google News Initiative and is a Google.org funded partnership between The Poynter Institute, the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG), the Local Media Association (LMA) and the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). Mediawise aims to teach one million students how to discern fact from fiction online by 2020.

Misinformation is nothing new, but in the digital age, it can spread like a virus. This is especially true for teenagers growing up with mobile phones as an extension of how they engage with the world and their friends. You might think teens are more digitally savvy, but research shows they can just as easily be fooled by misleading online content.

MediaWise helps teens figure out what’s real and what’s not by teaching them fact-checking skills that professional journalists use. I like to think of it this way: if misinformation online is a disease, then MediaWise is the Red Cross. Our work is based on a curriculum the Stanford History Education Group is currently writing and testing, which will be available for any middle school and high school teachers to download online for free this fall.

To kick off the new year, we spoke to 2,000 students and teachers at three schools in Houston, while 3,000 more watched online in class. We introduced them to tools like Reverse Google Image Search to help fact check the origin of a photo, shared tips and tricks on what to look out for, and heard from students and teachers about their concerns and experiences.


MediaWise reporters Allison Graves and Hiwot Hailu teaching the sophomore class at Spring Woods High School on January 9.

At Memorial High School, we spent the day with more than 600 students and had them do their own fact-checking online, using real-world examples of posts (like this one and this one)  on social media. They voted through a live Instagram poll on whether or not they thought a post was legit. Most got the first few examples wrong, but as their fact checking skills improved, got more right.

And at Spring Forest Middle School, less than half the 8th grade class of 300 students could tell whether a viral photo claiming Jason Derulo falling down the stairs at the Met Gala was fake. Afterwards, students said they’ll do more research before sharing information online and felt these skills should be taught in all classrooms by their teachers.

instagram poll

MediaWise wants students to lead this work themselves. Last week, we launched theMediaWise Teen Fact-Checking Network: a stellar crew of 24 students from across the country ranging from 15 to 18 years old. They’ll create original fact-checking videos for YouTube,Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to help us reach our target teen audience.

MediaWise multimedia reporters Allison Graves and Hiwot Hailu are leading this squad and guiding them on our quest to “fact-check the Internet.” This crew is the real deal—many work for their high school newspaper or TV station. Madeleine Katz, a 16-year-old from St. Petersburg, Florida with a popular Instagram account reviewing young adult books, joined because she feels strongly about the mission to empower her generation to be informed decision makers. Yasmeen Saadi from Kansas joined because she thinks it’s hard for teens to determine real from fake news on the internet.

MediaWise also partnered with best-selling author John Green to create a 10 part series on his CrashCourse YouTube channel called Navigating Digital Information, which launched last week. Each episode is chock-full of fact-checking tips and tricks and gives a sneak peek into the curriculum that will be available in the fall.

Teens want to learn how to discern fact from fiction online and teachers want new tools to help them teach their students to be smarter consumers of information. If your school is interested in MediaWise, or you want to be a part of the Teen Fact Checking Network, we’d love to hear from you. Check out our website to learn more and if you see something suspect online, tag us on social media with #isthislegit and our handle @MediaWise and we’ll check it out.

Stop the presses: How a new publishing platform can help local news

The challenges of local newsrooms are well-documented. Newspapers with long histories have had to cut back on staff and reduce coverage and reporters who try to start new digital publications face an interminable struggle with technical and business problems. It just doesn’t make sense, for instance, that every team of local reporters should have to invent the right mix of product features, get world-class tech and user experience talent, and then turn it all into the perfect bespoke publishing system to get their stories to readers.

Shouldn't doing great editorial work be enough?

We think so, and that's why the Google News Initiative has partnered with Automattic/WordPress and invested $1.2 million in its effort to create Newspack: a fast, secure, low-cost publishing system tailor-made to the needs of small newsrooms. Other funders include the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Civil Media collectively contributing another $1 million.

Journalists should be writing stories and covering their communities, not worrying about  designing websites, configuring CMSs, or building commerce systems. Their publishing platform should solve these problems for them. So while Newspack publishers will have access to all the plugins created by the WordPress developer community, the core product is not trying to be all things to all publishers. It is trying to help small publishers succeed by building best practices into the product while removing distractions that may divert scarce resources. We like to call it "an opinionated CMS:” it knows the right thing to do, even when you don’t.

ut what about where there are no proven models for success? Automattic will be working in partnership with Spirited Media and News Revenue Hub to better understand the features and capabilities that contribute to publisher success and to measure the business impact of those features. We'll also be advising on the Newspack feature set, based on feedback from our extensive contact with local publishers, and providing technical support on the integration of Google products.

The Newspack project takes another step—following on our Google News Initiative Cloud Program and GNI/YouTube innovation funding—towards our goal of local news sustainability by providing critical pieces of technology at high quality and low cost.

Newspack will begin development in the coming weeks, and will be made available to publishers globally later in the year.

GNI Innovation Forum: Looking towards the future of news

Today at the first Google News Initiative Innovation Forum in London, we heard from Claire Wardle of First Draft, Lisa Gibbs of the Associated Press, Daniel Bramatti of Abraji, Marie-Louise Timcke of Funke Media Group and Dmitry Shishkin of BBC World Service about the future of news. Covering topics like how to stop the spread of misinformation in the lead up to elections worldwide to how to establish creative new voices in the world of data journalism, these experts gave us insight into the big questions that are top of mind for the industry.

In addition to hearing from these speakers, we shared updates on four key ways we will collaborate with the news industry in the coming year.

Exploring the intersection of journalism and AI

In June, we shared a set of principles that guide how our company approaches the development of AI. As we saw with efforts like the New York Time’s use of Perspectiveto foster community and healthy conversation in their comments section, AI has the potential to enhance storytelling and newsroom processes.

To bring AI to the news industry in more ways, the Google News Initiative (GNI) is partnering with Polis, the international journalism think-tank at London School of Economics and Political Scienceto create Journalism AI. The program will focus on research and training for newsrooms on the intersection of AI and journalism. As a part of Journalism AI, next year we’ll publish a global survey about how the media is currently using—and could further benefit from—this technology. We’ll also collaborate with newsrooms and academic institutions to create a best practices handbook and produce free online trainings on how to use AI in the newsroom for journalists worldwide.

Telling visual stories with Google Earth

After testing with partners over the last two years, we’re introducing a new tool called Google Earth Studio. Google Earth Studio is an animation tool for Google Earth’s satellite and 3D imagery.

EarthStudio tool

The Google Earth Studio interface

The tool empowers graphics specialists with new ways to leverage Google Earth imagery for storytelling. We’re inviting newsrooms around the world to start using the product for the first time. To learn more and sign up, visit g.co/earthstudio.

Sharing best practices around data journalism

Last year, we announced a partnership with the European Journalism Centre to create a new version of the Data Journalism Handbook. The project is one in a series of initiatives by the GNI to help journalists understand incorporate technology into their work .

Data Journalism Handbook

The cover of The Data Journalism Handbook 2 that’s available online and in print in 2019.

Available online starting today and in print next year, the book covers topics like working with data, training data journalists and investigating data sources. The handbook is written by diverse group of data journalists including chapters from Buzzfeed’s Lam Thuy Vo on  storytelling with social media data from, Spiegel Online’s Christina Elmer on collaborative data journalism investigations and Meredith Broussard of New York University on best practices around archiving data journalism.

Helping journalists use our tools

For the last four years, we’ve provided free training to journalists on a range of tools reaching more than 140,000 people in-person. We’ll continue these workshops, but to make them accessible to more people, we’re revamping our free online Training Centre.  Our trainings on Google tools for journalists are now available in 16 languages—including Indonesian Bahasa, Thai and Turkish. We’ve also added an optional sign-in feature to help you track your own progress.

GNI Training Center

The GNI Training Centre

Today’s announcements from the GNI Innovation Forum are examples of our deep commitment to partnering with the news industry to enable the creation of quality storytelling that helps people understand the world around them.

Collaborating on the future of audio news for the Assistant

For the past century, radio has been a one-size-fits-all medium. Turn on the radio and you’re dropped into a show at a moment in time—regardless of what you already know, where you are, or what you’re interested in. Imagine instead if you could have your own radio, one that’s available on-demand, accessible throughout your day, and brings you news about the world and your interests.

Over the past year, we worked with publishers from around the world—including The Associated Press, Hollywood Reporter, Universo Online and the South China Morning Post—to think through the future of audio news. Together, we built a prototype that brings the artificial intelligence of Google News to the voice context of the Assistant.


This new experience will bring you an audio news playlist assembled in that moment, for you. It starts with a briefing of top stories and updates on topics you care about, and extends into longer-form content that dives deeper into more stories. At any point in your day when you want to listen to the latest news—as a morning wake-up, during your commute, or while jogging—the Google Assistant will be ready with new stories and updates to the ones you’ve already heard. Plus, using your voice, you can easily ask the Google Assistant to skip a story, go back or stop.

To improve and build out this audio news experience, we’ve built an open specification, available for news organizations that would like to participate. The prototype relies on single-topic stories—segmented out from newscasts or shows—to contribute to the audio news feed.

Audio journalism requires new capabilities and workflows for both print publishers and broadcasters, whether it's adding a sound booth or segmenting larger broadcasts into shorter stories. To help with this, the Google News Initiative provided funding to a number of news organizations, such as KQED and McClatchy, to support building out more audio capabilities for the industry as a whole.

Audio news on the Google Assistant will roll out first to a limited number of people via the Google Assistant in the United States in English. Publishers from around the world who produce English-language content are welcome to submit feeds for inclusion today and sign up to try the experience.

Google News Initiative kicks off Asia-Pacific Innovation Challenge

In Asia-Pacific,  journalists and publishers are increasingly grappling with questions over how quality journalism can thrive in the digital age. From Yangon to Manila, Sydney to New Delhi, they are experimenting with fresh approaches to reporting and new business models.

We’ve been working hand in hand with publishers to understand those challenges, and over the past year we’ve supported Asian newsrooms and publishers through the Google News Initiative (GNI).

To help build a stronger future for journalism in Asia-Pacific, we created the Asia-Pacific GNI Innovation Challenge, which will fund projects that inject new ideas into the news industry. 

How does the challenge work?

We are inviting proposals for projects aimed at increasing revenue from readers, including subscriptions, membership programs, contributions and/or new digital products and services.  A panel of Googlers and other tech industry executives will review the submissions and fund selected projects up to $300,000 and finance up to 70 percent of the total project cost.

The funding will be reviewed against several criteria, including a “sharing component” -  for example by publishing any findings or holding a seminar - so grantees can pass their knowledge on to others in the industry. For more information on eligibility, rules and criteria, sample projects and funding details, head over to our website.

How to apply?

Given the pace of change in the news industry, innovation has never been more important.  We want to make sure that all organizations, large and small, in the Asia-Pacific news ecosystem have the opportunity to suggest new ideas around this critically important topic.

Applications open on November 28, and the deadline to submit is January 9.  If you have any questions, tune into our APAC town hall on Monday, December 11 at 3.00 pm Singapore time. We are ready to help put your ideas into action and look forward to seeing what you submit!

News Consumer Insights: How data is driving publisher growth

Although news companies are awash in data, publishers say that it’s often hard for them to extract valuable insights that can affect the bottom line of their businesses. In close collaboration with news partners, we developed the News Consumer Insights (NCI) tool to help publishers make data-driven business decisions that increase profitability and build deeper relationships with their readers.

News Consumer Insights Audience Funnel

The News Consumer Insights Audience Funnel

NCI is a data framework implemented into Data Studio, a free Google data visualization tool, to conceptualize a news publisher’s Google Analytics data. It takes an ecommerce-driven funnel approach, segmenting users according to their value to the news site (defined by their respective key engagement metrics such as time on the site and number of articles read).

Leveraging the NCI playbook recommendations, thousands of news publishers have surfaced actionable insights in order to convert users into paying consumers, improve site experience and build a loyal following. Here are some of the key learnings from publishers who have used the NCI tool:

Optimize consumer revenue by removing friction and focusing on the right benefits

While having a loyal reader base is essential for sustainability, it doesn’t guarantee the financial success of a news publication. During the launch of their subscription offering called BI Prime, Business Insider used NCI recommendations to understand their potential customers and optimize the different steps of their reader’s path to purchase.  They collected user feedback to identify what benefits people expected from a subscription, implemented free trials to improve discoverability and redesigned their landing page according to NCI's conversion rate optimization best practices.

Before and after BI

BI Prime redesigned prompt and landing page

Following the implementation of the changes, Business Insider saw a 150% increase subscription revenue growth in just one quarter and a 40% share of long-term subscribers growth.

Lee Enterprises similarly carried out changes to their subscription conversion funnel by making their subscribe buttons more prominent, improving the targeting of promotional ads on their sites and identifying effective unique selling points for their subscription packages. After the changes, their digital subscriptions tripled month over month and visits to their subscription pages increased by 150%.

Boost newsletter signups to build reader loyalty

As reaching readers becomes more challenging in a fragmented media environment, publishers are finding that email newsletters are a reliable way to deepen relationships with their audience. Following the newsletter best practices from the NCI playbook, WRAL.com was able to grow their subscriber base by 15% through adjusting the location of their newsletter sign-up box, simplifying the newsletter sign-up process and customizing the content in their newsletters to match readers’ interests.

Johnston Press, a United Kingdom based publisher, also revamped their newsletter subscription process by implementing a sign-up box within the content that only required an email address. They even went a step further and collected feedback from readers on what they want from a newsletter. After implementing the changes, they saw a significant increase in newsletter driven traffic to their websites and more engagement from users on their sites with the average time spent on the site increasing by over a minute.

Survey examples

Survey examples to identify key benefits

Improve your content discoverability in organic search

Using our data and recommendations on structured data for news and magazine publishers, Independent News & Media Group (INM), Ireland’s largest media company, was able to ensure that their websites were marked up with the properly structured data to help search engines across the web interpret the content in their articles, reviews, videos and content.  Following the changes, they saw 11% more visits from users coming from different search engines which also led to an ad inventory growth of 39% and a 22% programmatic revenue growth year over year.

We hope that the NCI tool and these case studies are helpful in improving the readership and user experience for publishers. You can learn more about and try News Consumer Insights today at g.co/newsconsumerinsights.

Bringing the power of cloud to news organizations

As news consumption becomes increasingly digital, local, small and medium-sized news organizations need new tools to thrive. We created the Google News Initiative Cloud Program, to help publishers use Google Cloud to come up with imaginative solutions to business and storytelling. The first phase of the program focused on providing 200,000 free G Suite license to news companies with fewer than 500 employees through this application.

 Building on that effort, today we’re opening applications for the GNI Cloud Credit Program. This will give qualifying organizations with fewer than 1,000 employees the opportunity to apply for up to $100,000 each in Google Cloud Platform credits, as well up to $50,000 in implementation support. This provides publishers with an on-ramp to implement technologies that can help them build more sustainable businesses and provide readers with relevant, engaging and more personalized content.

With a wide range of tools, cloud technology can be tailored to each news organization's unique needs. To help get the most of their Cloud Credits, all publishers in the program will work with third-party cloud specialists to craft a strategy that uses cloud’s diverse tools to support storytelling and business needs. 

For example, with Google Cloud Platform credits, publishers can simplify time-intensive tasks like translating articles and transcribing interviews through tools like Cloud Speech to Text and the Cloud Translation API.

Cloud can help publishers understand articles and classify content to provide more personalized offerings to their readers using the Natural Language Processing API and intelligently organize entire photo archives of millions of photos to help reporters uncover new sources of information to tell more engaging stories.

With BigQuery and machine learning, publishers can modernize their infrastructure to improve distribution and analyze digital behaviors to better understand their audiences. And publishers will be able to build a more scalable, engaging app experiences with tools like Firebase, while lessening the burden on their support teams.

The Cloud Program is a key part of the Google News Initiatives’s mission to elevate quality journalism, enable new business models, and empower news organizations to innovate through technology. We are partnering with key industry associations around the world including WAN-IFRAONA, and LMA to spread the word about this program to more news organizations around the globe.

You can learn more about other Google News Initiative here.

Helping boost diversity in local newsrooms

Local journalism is among the most trusted sources in the U.S. But in order to report on and reflect the issues that matter to local communities, journalists and editors working in those newsrooms need to be reflective of the places and people they serve. The data is not encouraging—according to the Newsroom Employment Diversity Survey, in 2017, minority journalists comprised only 16.6 percent of the workforce in U.S. newsrooms—only a half- percentage point improvement from the previous year.

To help the local news industry with this diversity challenge, the Google News Initiative is partnering with the Local Media Association (LMA) to offer 50 scholarships to the Media Transformation 2018 conference taking place in Kansas City September 25-27. These scholarships will be awarded to a diverse mix of under-represented candidates on a first-come first-serve basis. The conference will educate attendees on sustainable business models, innovation, and media transformation for local news companies—and provide scholarship attendees an opportunity to grow their own careers and skills while bringing best practices back to the organizations they serve.

We’re also supporting the Women in Local Media Summit during the conference to advance women’s presence in the industry. The GNI will provide training, research and content to the LMA to enable a transparent discussion about increasing diversity of staff and news coverage during this session.

The Google News Initiative was formed to build a stronger future for journalism, in collaboration with the industry. Diversity in local journalism is core to that mission and we’ll continue to look for opportunities to help drive diversity and inclusion.

Elections roadshow: supporting journalists’ midterm reporting

Journalists play a key role in making sure everyone has access to accurate information. From the spread of misinformation that can sway public opinion to digital attacks that take news websites offline, threats to quality journalism make it difficult for journalists to do their jobs.

As a part of our commitment to help people engage with democratic processes, the Google News Initiative is working across the world to support journalists in the lead-up to major elections.

Ahead of the midterm elections in the U.S., the Google News Initiative partnered with the Society of Professional Journalists Training Program to lead workshops in ten states and Washington D.C between now and November 6th.

Host cities will include:

  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Dallas, Texas 
  • Austin, Texas 
  • Las Vegas, Nevada  
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin 
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Morgantown, West Virginia
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Miami, Florida 
  • Washington D.C

In each city, the trainings will cover a wide range of Google tools and best practices for journalists covering elections including:

Safety and Security
This is especially important for journalists in the field conducting sensitive, difficult, and sometimes dangerous reporting. According to a recent study of more than 2,700 newsroom managers and journalists from 130 countries, at least half of those surveyed don’t use any tools or methods to protect their data and information online. During the training, you’ll learn how to protect yourself and your news organization from hacking, phishing, malware, censorship and other digital attacks.

Verification and Fact Checking
With content developed in collaboration with First Draft News, we’ll cover time-saving methods to verify the authenticity and accuracy of images, videos and reports that you find in social media and elsewhere online.

Data Journalism
Data journalism helps to tell deep, insightful stories. We’ll cover how to find, analyze, interpret and visualize data in compelling new ways—and help your audience gain a deeper understanding of election data and campaigns.

In addition to Google tools, the Society of Professional Journalists will be providing training on ethics and elections. You can learn more and sign up to these free training events at https://www.spj.org/election18.asp.   

If you can’t join a session, we’ve also provided free training materials for educators on these topics, as a part of membership to the Google News Initiative University Network. You can learn more about these modules and the University Network here.

To learn more about other Google tools for elections and beyond, and to review self paced training visit g.co/newstraining. We look forward to seeing you later this year in a city near you!

Hey Google, tell me something good

The news has always played an essential role in our lives, keeping us informed about the world and the issues we care about. These days we’re consuming more news than ever, and sometimes, it can feel like there are only problems out there. But the fact is, there is a plethora of “good news” happening, and we're not talking about unlikely animal friendships or random acts of kindness. Real people are making progress solving real issues—and hearing about those stories is a crucial part of a balanced media diet.

The Assistant is making this kind of news easier to find.

“Tell me something good” is a new experimental feature for Assistant users in the U.S.  that delivers your daily dose of good news. Just say “Hey Google, tell me something good” to receive a brief news summary about people who are solving problems for our communities and our world.

This is good news like how Georgia State University coupled empathy with data to double its graduation rate and eliminate achievement gaps between white and black students, how backyard beekeepers in East Detroit are bringing back the dwindling bee population while boosting the local economy, and how Iceland curbed teen drinking with nightly curfews and coupons for kids to enroll in extracurricular activities.

Hey Google, Tell Me Something Good

Watch to learn more about "Tell me something good"

The stories come from a wide range of media outlets, curated and summarized by the Solutions Journalism Network. They’re a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to spreading the practice of solutions journalism, which highlights how problems are solvable and that doing better is possible. Solutions journalism empowers and energizes audiences, helping to combat negative news fatigue. It’s an important part of a balanced news diet, so we’re exploring how to incorporate more solutions journalism wherever you access Google News.

“Tell me something good” isn’t meant to be a magic solution. But it’s an experiment worth trying because it’s good info about good work that may bring some good to your day. Give it a go yourself on any Assistant-enabled device, including your phone, Smart Display, or Google Home.