Tag Archives: Google in Latin America

Honoring Black Consciousness Day in Brazil

Editor's note: Last night, on the eve of the Black Consciousness Day in Brazil, a Black man, João Alberto Silveira Freitas, died after being beaten at a supermarket in Porto Alegre, in the south of the country. We would like to express our sentiments to the Black community in Brazil.

In Brazil, November 20 is Black Consciousness Day, or Dia da Consciência Negra in Portuguese, a public holiday celebrated in more than 830 cities around the country. It’s a tribute to Zumbi dos Palmares, the most prominent resistance leader against slavery and a symbol of the fight for freedom and recognition.

In a country where more than half the population of 212 million people identify as Black, Brazilians celebrate this day to raise awareness about the history and the achievements of the Black community. It’s also a moment to further debate the struggles Black Brazilians face: structural racism, inequality, displacement, exploitation, poverty and more. 

Following Google’s commitments to racial equity, we created a series of initiatives to celebrate Black Consciousness Day: a wealth of new material on Google Arts & Culture; a Google Play Store collection and a film showcasing local Black founders and developers of apps, games and websites; a new group of Black-led startups will be funded by Google for Startups; and Google.org grants to advance racial justice.

Honoring Black art

In partnership with 15 cultural institutions, Google Arts & Culture created “Celebrating Black Brazil,” a hub dedicated to Afro-Brazilian art and culture that features more than 30 exhibitions about the history behind this celebration. Thanks to the Geledés Black Women Institute, you can learn more about the artistic representation of the Black community, or explore African culture in over 600 artworks from the Museo de Arte de Bahia digitized in super high-resolution. You can also examine the artistic and cultural expressions at the Port of Rio, one of the main harbors for slave trade in the Americas.

Restoring history

Four young Brazilian artists worked with the Museu Afro Brasil and a team of historians and curators to uncover unknown stories of Black Brazil.

The stories range from an empowering tale of sisterhood and entrepreneurship in Salvador, to an exploration of how African design and technology have influenced Brazil’s development. The artworks represent Black communities beyond stereotypes, integrating elements from African legacy.

To explore these remarkable stories in more detail, and to discover collections from more than 2,000 cultural institutions around the world, visit Google Arts & Culture online  or download the free mobile app (iOS and Android).

Helping Black job seekers and entrepreneurs

Unemployment in Brazil increased 43 percent between May and September, leaving 4.1 million people out of work. To help Black job seekers discover, prepare and apply for jobs around the country, the Grow with Google team launched the mentorship program "Black Careers Matter," a guide to your next professional move. 

Google for Startups’ Black Founders Fund in Brazil provides non-dilutive, equity-free cash awards up to $1 million for startups founded and led by Black entrepreneurs in Brazil. The goal is to support around 30 startups by the end of 2021. 

In addition to the first startups announced in September (Afropolitan, CREATORS and TrazFavela), six new startups from different business areas and regions of the country will receive financial resources from Google: EasyJur, LegAut, Treinus, Wellbe, WeUse and Aoca Game Lab

Aoca, for example, is a small studio in Salvador, the cradle of Afro-Brazilian culture. Since September 2016, the studio has focused on the development of Árida, a series of survival games for PC that tells the story of Cícera, a girl on a journey of discovery in the Brazilian hinterland of the 19th century.
Google employees and startup founders on a video call

The Google team welcomes the founders of the 6 new startups that will be funded by Google for Startups’ Black Founders Fund in Brazil.

Celebrating Black developers and creators

We caught up with some Black founders and developers who create apps, games and websites in Brazil. They shared their journeys, tips and passions in this video:

Through November 26, the Google Play Store will highlight content celebrating Afro-Brazilian culture. This special collection features apps by some of these Black Brazilian entrepreneurs alongside movies, books, and a game showcasing Black Brazilian protagonists and stories of courage and resilience.

Starting on November 20, Google Podcasts will showcase a collection of local Black podcasters running shows such as Afetos, História Preta, Afropausa and many more.

Supporting organizations fighting for racial justice

2020 has been a year of racial reckoning that led to more global awareness and solidarity. In June, our CEO Sundar Pichai reinforced the importance of addressing systemic racism in regions beyond the United States, such as Brazil, and across Europe and Africa.

Google.org will provide $500,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations working to advance racial justice in Brazil. To start that work, we are announcing two grants: 

Fundo Baobá

Fundo Baobá is the first and only fund solely focused on racial equity in Brazil. Google.org will make a $400,000 grant to support an open call for organizations from all 27 states of the country to submit ideas for funding, centered on how they are tackling racial justice locally, and ultimately funding 10 organizations in all of the five regions of Brazil. Stay tuned on how to apply by following Fundo Baobá on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Fundação Getúlio Vargas - FGV

To improve information-gathering about the state of racial justice in Brazil, Google.org will make a $100,000 grant to the Racial Justice and the Law Research Center (Núcleo de Pesquisa em Justiça Racial e Direito) at FGV. The research will be led by Black scholars and thought leaders in the field, and will focus on data analysis and visualization of the racial dimensions of police violence in Brazil. 

We know that Brazil still has a long way to go to reduce racial inequality. With initiatives like these, we hope to continue contributing to build a more equitable future.

A new licensing program to support the news industry

A vibrant news industry matters—perhaps now more than ever, as people look for information they can count on in the midst of a global pandemic and growing concerns about racial injustice around the world. But these events are happening at a time when the news industry is also being challenged financially. We care deeply about providing access to information and supporting the publishers who report on these important topics. 

Today, we are announcing a licensing program to pay publishers for high-quality content for a new news experience launching later this year. This program will help participating publishers monetize their content through an enhanced storytelling experience that lets people go deeper into more complex stories, stay informed and be exposed to a world of different issues and interests. We will start with publishers in a number of countries around the globe, with more to come soon. 

This endeavor will diversify our support for news businesses today, building on the value we already provide through Search and our ongoing efforts with the Google News Initiative to help journalism thrive in the digital age. While we’ve previously funded high-quality content, this program is a significant step forward in how we will support the creation of this kind of journalism. To start, we have signed partnerships with local and national publications in Germany, Australia and Brazil.

Our publisher partners, who we’ve been in discussions with for several months, say this is a positive shift in direction. "We are always keen to explore innovative ways to attract readers to our high-quality content,” says Stefan Ottlitz, managing director of Germany’s SPIEGEL Group. “This interesting new partnership with Google will allow us to curate an experience that will bring our award-winning editorial voice into play, broaden our outreach and provide trusted news in a compelling way across Google products.”

Where available, Google will also offer to pay for free access for users to read paywalled articles on a publisher’s site. This will let paywalled publishers grow their audiences and open an opportunity for people to read content they might not ordinarily see.  

Being able to grow their audience for important local content is what motivated Paul Hamra, Managing Director and publisher of Australian news titles including InQueensland andInDaily in South Australia to take part. "With local news under stress, finding new channels and new audiences for our premium content, in safe and curated environments, is a high priority,” he says. “This opportunity will give us access to new markets and provide additional commercial benefits.”

We have been actively working with our publisher partners on this new product which will launch first on Google News and Discover. We are currently engaged in discussions with many more partners and plan to sign more in the coming months.  

Geraldo Teixeira da Costa Neto, CEO of the Brazilian regional media company Diarios Associados, says they are proud to get involved: “From our side, we will do everything in our power to make this platform prosper and to be a compass for society to seek information from a safe and reliable source in times of challenges,” he says.

In the last few months, COVID-19 has created new and unimagined pressures on the news industry, affecting everything from the creation of quality journalism to the continuation of traditional business models. In response, the Google News Initiative has provided funding to more than 5,300 local publications globally via a Journalism Emergency Relief Fund, anad-serving fee waiver on Google Ad Manager and a $15m Support Local News Campaign to help alleviate some immediate economic constraints.  

Over the years, we’ve built audiences and driven economic value for publishers by sending people to news sites over 24 billion times a month, giving publishers the opportunity to offer ads or subscriptions and increase the audience for their content. We launched the Google News Initiative in 2018 with a $300 million commitment to help build a more sustainable future for news via programs like Subscribe with Google and the Local Experiments Project. 

Alongside other companies, governments and civic society organizations, we’re committed to playing our part to support news businesses. Today’s undertaking exemplifies that, and we look forward to what we can all achieve together.

A new licensing program to support the news industry

A vibrant news industry matters—perhaps now more than ever, as people look for information they can count on in the midst of a global pandemic and growing concerns about racial injustice around the world. But these events are happening at a time when the news industry is also being challenged financially. We care deeply about providing access to information and supporting the publishers who report on these important topics. 

Today, we are announcing a licensing program to pay publishers for high-quality content for a new news experience launching later this year. This program will help participating publishers monetize their content through an enhanced storytelling experience that lets people go deeper into more complex stories, stay informed and be exposed to a world of different issues and interests. We will start with publishers in a number of countries around the globe, with more to come soon. 

This endeavor will diversify our support for news businesses today, building on the value we already provide through Search and our ongoing efforts with the Google News Initiative to help journalism thrive in the digital age. While we’ve previously funded high-quality content, this program is a significant step forward in how we will support the creation of this kind of journalism. To start, we have signed partnerships with local and national publications in Germany, Australia and Brazil.

Our publisher partners, who we’ve been in discussions with for several months, say this is a positive shift in direction. "We are always keen to explore innovative ways to attract readers to our high-quality content,” says Stefan Ottlitz, managing director of Germany’s SPIEGEL Group. “This interesting new partnership with Google will allow us to curate an experience that will bring our award-winning editorial voice into play, broaden our outreach and provide trusted news in a compelling way across Google products.”

Where available, Google will also offer to pay for free access for users to read paywalled articles on a publisher’s site. This will let paywalled publishers grow their audiences and open an opportunity for people to read content they might not ordinarily see.  

Being able to grow their audience for important local content is what motivated Paul Hamra, Managing Director and publisher of Australian news titles including InQueensland andInDaily in South Australia to take part. "With local news under stress, finding new channels and new audiences for our premium content, in safe and curated environments, is a high priority,” he says. “This opportunity will give us access to new markets and provide additional commercial benefits.”

We have been actively working with our publisher partners on this new product which will launch first on Google News and Discover. We are currently engaged in discussions with many more partners and plan to sign more in the coming months.  

Geraldo Teixeira da Costa Neto, CEO of the Brazilian regional media company Diarios Associados, says they are proud to get involved: “From our side, we will do everything in our power to make this platform prosper and to be a compass for society to seek information from a safe and reliable source in times of challenges,” he says.

In the last few months, COVID-19 has created new and unimagined pressures on the news industry, affecting everything from the creation of quality journalism to the continuation of traditional business models. In response, the Google News Initiative has provided funding to more than 5,300 local publications globally via a Journalism Emergency Relief Fund, anad-serving fee waiver on Google Ad Manager and a $15m Support Local News Campaign to help alleviate some immediate economic constraints.  

Over the years, we’ve built audiences and driven economic value for publishers by sending people to news sites over 24 billion times a month, giving publishers the opportunity to offer ads or subscriptions and increase the audience for their content. We launched the Google News Initiative in 2018 with a $300 million commitment to help build a more sustainable future for news via programs like Subscribe with Google and the Local Experiments Project. 

Alongside other companies, governments and civic society organizations, we’re committed to playing our part to support news businesses. Today’s undertaking exemplifies that, and we look forward to what we can all achieve together.

A new licensing program to support the news industry

A vibrant news industry matters—perhaps now more than ever, as people look for information they can count on in the midst of a global pandemic and growing concerns about racial injustice around the world. But these events are happening at a time when the news industry is also being challenged financially. We care deeply about providing access to information and supporting the publishers who report on these important topics. 

Today, we are announcing a licensing program to pay publishers for high-quality content for a new news experience launching later this year. This program will help participating publishers monetize their content through an enhanced storytelling experience that lets people go deeper into more complex stories, stay informed and be exposed to a world of different issues and interests. We will start with publishers in a number of countries around the globe, with more to come soon. 

This endeavor will diversify our support for news businesses today, building on the value we already provide through Search and our ongoing efforts with the Google News Initiative to help journalism thrive in the digital age. While we’ve previously funded high-quality content, this program is a significant step forward in how we will support the creation of this kind of journalism. To start, we have signed partnerships with local and national publications in Germany, Australia and Brazil.

Our publisher partners, who we’ve been in discussions with for several months, say this is a positive shift in direction. "We are always keen to explore innovative ways to attract readers to our high-quality content,” says Stefan Ottlitz, managing director of Germany’s SPIEGEL Group. “This interesting new partnership with Google will allow us to curate an experience that will bring our award-winning editorial voice into play, broaden our outreach and provide trusted news in a compelling way across Google products.”

Where available, Google will also offer to pay for free access for users to read paywalled articles on a publisher’s site. This will let paywalled publishers grow their audiences and open an opportunity for people to read content they might not ordinarily see.  

Being able to grow their audience for important local content is what motivated Paul Hamra, Managing Director and publisher of Australian news titles including InQueensland andInDaily in South Australia to take part. "With local news under stress, finding new channels and new audiences for our premium content, in safe and curated environments, is a high priority,” he says. “This opportunity will give us access to new markets and provide additional commercial benefits.”

We have been actively working with our publisher partners on this new product which will launch first on Google News and Discover. We are currently engaged in discussions with many more partners and plan to sign more in the coming months.  

Geraldo Teixeira da Costa Neto, CEO of the Brazilian regional media company Diarios Associados, says they are proud to get involved: “From our side, we will do everything in our power to make this platform prosper and to be a compass for society to seek information from a safe and reliable source in times of challenges,” he says.

In the last few months, COVID-19 has created new and unimagined pressures on the news industry, affecting everything from the creation of quality journalism to the continuation of traditional business models. In response, the Google News Initiative has provided funding to more than 5,300 local publications globally via a Journalism Emergency Relief Fund, anad-serving fee waiver on Google Ad Manager and a $15m Support Local News Campaign to help alleviate some immediate economic constraints.  

Over the years, we’ve built audiences and driven economic value for publishers by sending people to news sites over 24 billion times a month, giving publishers the opportunity to offer ads or subscriptions and increase the audience for their content. We launched the Google News Initiative in 2018 with a $300 million commitment to help build a more sustainable future for news via programs like Subscribe with Google and the Local Experiments Project. 

Alongside other companies, governments and civic society organizations, we’re committed to playing our part to support news businesses. Today’s undertaking exemplifies that, and we look forward to what we can all achieve together.

Alalaô! Keep up with Carnaval 2020 on Google News

Break out your costumes and strike a pose: Brazil’s Carnaval starts today and lasts through February 26th. The five-day festival, which traces its roots back to the early 1700s, is now one of the largest festivals in the world with thousands of parties and millions of people celebrating across Brazil’s biggest cities. Google News is here to help you keep up with the parades and stay safe.


When you search for Carnaval on desktop and mobile devices, you’ll see an interactive topic, which will keep you updated on breaking news, help plan your schedule with parade routes and lineups, and let you rock your best look with DIY videos for costumes and make-up. You can also follow Carnaval by tapping it’s star icon on the top right corner for quick access and to receive updates directly in your For You page. 


Carnaval Keyword Phone.gif


With all the excitement also comes your safety, which is why we’ve partnered with the non-profit Think Olga to provide you with information about public safety resources and the contact information for theAssistance Center for Women in Situations of Violence and the military police. 


These features will be available across desktop, iOS and Android platforms in Brazilian Portuguese but accessible to you from anywhere in the world. 


Don’t miss a beat of the party with Google News, e se jogue na folia!

Heritage on the Edge urges action on the climate crisis

Editor’s note: Guest author Dr. Toshiyuki Kono is President of the International Council on Monuments and Sites. Distinguished Professor Kono also teaches private international law and heritage law at Japan's Kyushu University.

Preserving and protecting the past is essential for our future. This belief is at the core of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), a global non-government organization dedicated to the conservation of architectural and archaeological heritage.

Our 10,000 members across the globe—including architects, archeologists, geographers, planners and anthropologists—share the same vision: to protect and promote the world’s cultural heritage. The recent youth climate demonstrations shed a spotlight on the urgency of the climate crisis, which is having a devastating effect on our cultural monuments too. It is important to take action, and we must act now to save this part of our human legacy.

That’s why, in collaboration with CyArk and Google Arts & Culture, we’re launching Heritage on the Edge, a new online experience that stresses the gravity of the situation through the lens of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can join us and explore over 50 online exhibits, 3D models, Street View tours, and interviews with local professionals and communities about Rapa Nui’s (Easter Island) iconic statues, the great mosque city of Bagerhat in Bangladesh, the adobe metropolis of Chan Chan in Peru, Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle and the coastal city of Kilwa Kisiwani in Tanzania—all heritage sites that are affected by the climate crisis.

Above all, the project is a call to action. The effects of climate change on our cultural heritage mirror wider impacts on our planet, and require a strong and meaningful response. While actions at individual sites can prevent loss locally, the only sustainable solution is systemic change and the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. 

Heritage on the Edge collects stories of loss, but also of hope and resilience. They remind us that all our cultural heritage, including these iconic World Heritage Sites, are more than just tourist destinations. They are places of great national, spiritual and cultural significance.

5 tips for finding the best hotels in 2020

The sandy beaches in Da Nang, the night life of São Paulo, and Korean barbecue from Seoul are all top of mind for people planning vacations this year. According to global hotel search data, people from around the world are interested in traveling to these destinations in 2020.

BINK_Google_Keyword_TrendingDestinations_7b.png

When you’re ready to start planning your next vacation, here are five tips to help you pick the best hotel for your trip.

Know when to go

Have flexible travel dates? You can now find the best times to visit or typical hotel prices for specific dates right above the hotel results on desktop at google.com/travel. On the “When to visit” tab, you’ll see how weather, crowds and pricing vary across the year. Check out “What you’ll pay” to find out if prices are low, typical or high for the dates you’re considering (grouped by hotels’ star ratings). If you find out prices are much higher than usual due to a conference or sporting event, you may decide to change your dates.

Narrow down by neighborhood

Part of the fun of traveling is discovering a city’s different neighborhoods—but how do you choose one to  be your home base during a trip? Click on “Where to stay” to get a summary of top neighborhoods, including what each area is known for, its location score, and the average cost of hotels there. Select an area you’re interested in, and you’ll see it highlighted on the map. When you’ve decided which neighborhoods you’d like to narrow your search to, click “Apply” to update results to include only hotels in these areas. 


See personal results

In your hotel results, we’ll tell you if you’ve searched for or stayed at a hotel before or if there are similar options to places you’ve stayed in other cities. We’ll also call out hotels that are close to points of interest you’ve searched for. For example, if you’ve been researching Tokyo Tower, we’ll highlight how far it is from hotels nearby. These personalized results are only visible to you, and you can adjust your account settings to disable them at any time.

Personalized with callout (1).png

Get the total cost for your stay

When you decide on a hotel and want to confirm the cost before booking, you can now see both the nightly and total price for your entire stay including taxes and fees. In the U.S. and Canada, you can also see the nightly price without taxes and fees. On the “Overview” or “Prices” tab you can choose to see either view when you check availability.

122019_Rate-explanations_Pixel3.png

Resume planning your trip in seconds

Easily continue planning your trip by going to google.com/travel. If you’re signed into your Google account, you’ll see upcoming trips if you’ve received a booking confirmation in Gmail and potential trips you’re still researching. 

Travel_Add-Shortcut-Promo (1).gif

Scroll down and tap “Add shortcut” to add the icon to your phone’s home screen so you can return to planning trips quickly in the future.

Google for Argentina: more opportunities through tech

A couple of weeks ago at Google for Argentina, we shared how Google has opened up opportunities and a path for growth for people and businesses in Argentina. Here’s what we highlighted at the event:

Our impact in Argentina

In 2018, Google contributed to the national economy with more than 52 billion Argentinian pesos, helping more than 30,000 companies, publishers, media and nonprofit organizations across the country generate income.

Small and medium businesses (SMEs) are an important part of the national economy, yet only 52 percent of Argentine SMEs have a website, which is essential to stand out online, find new customers, and grow their businesses. Google for Small Businesses is a new website that brings together Google tools designed for small and medium businesses.

Get around faster with Google Maps

To improve the mobility of all Argentines, we launched two-wheeler mode in Google Maps. The new feature helps motorcyclists move around the country faster and more efficiently. To help people with their commutes, we also brought bike routes and information about bus routes—like departure and arrival times—to Maps. 

Two-wheeler mode

New features in the Assistant 

The Google Assistant helps millions of people with daily needs just by saying, "Ok, Google." In early 2020, Argentines will be able to use the Google Assistant to make faster payments through platforms such as Mercado Pago. You can also use the Assistant to play games with your family. Etermax’s Trivia Game (“Ok Google, jugar preguntados”) is a new version of the popular “Trivia Crack” game, and "The Children's Kingdom includes new songs, riddles and stories from the popular YouTube channel

Laying cables 

This year, we announced the future extension of the Tannat submarine cable, which currently connects Brazil with Uruguay. This extension process, which will be carried out with Antel, a telecommunications company in Uruguay, will take the cable to Las Toninas, on the Argentine coast, where most of the submarine cables that reach the country are connected. The extension of the Tannat cable marks a new milestone in Argentina's technological development and will allow us to improve connectivity to Google's services and products.

Privacy updates

Security and privacy are essential for Google, and the privacy features announced at Google I/O in May are now available in Argentina. You can now quickly access privacy settings in products like Search, Maps, the Assistant and YouTube, and choose whether to automatically delete the activity log in your Google Account.

Investing in digital tools for everyone

In 2017, we brought Grow with Google to Argentina, where we held a digital skills training for entrepreneurs, women, SME owners, teachers and young job seekers. Grow with Google has visited 10 cities in the last three years, training more than 100,000 people in 2019, and more than 220,000 people since its launch.

IT Support Certificate is another part of our digital skills work. It’s an online program that prepares people for IT support roles in under six months. Google.org awarded $500,000 to Junior Achievement so that 500 low-income young Argentines could able to enroll in the program and develop IT and job preparation skills. 

Sustainable and quality journalism 

The Google News Initiative strengthens collaboration with the media throughout the country, allowing for innovation in their newsrooms, development of new business models and high-quality of their content.Six Argentine media organizations are among the 30 Latin America winners in the GNI Innovation Challenge. They’re developing projects that will move digital news forward, and will each receive up to $250,000.

Google for Argentina was a great opportunity to show our commitment to businesses and the people who use our products. Working together, we’ll find new ways to use technology to succeed.

Explore the Maya world with the British Museum

At first glance, the British Museum and Google may not seem like natural partners. One is a 266-year-old institution venerated as the first national public museum in the world. The other is a 21-year-old former startup and now the world’s largest digital company. 

But if you take a closer look, you’ll see some strong ties. The British Museum was created to host the knowledge of the world in objects and to unlock their stories. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. So when we discovered an opportunity to work together with Google Arts & Culture, it turned out to be a natural fit.

Exploring the Maya World is a bold project to bring a rarely seen collection out of the British Museum repository and into the world. By harnessing the power of new technology to capture and communicate stories about the collections, the project helps bring important stories to a global audience.

This project has fully digitized the remarkable collection of ancient Maya art and architecture gathered by Alfred Maudslay in the late 19th century. Maudslay used the latest technology of his time to record the stories of ancient Maya cities in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. He developed the first dry glass plate photographs of iconic sites like Palenque, Chichen Itza and Tikal, spending years living and working throughout the region. He also created more than 400 large plaster cast replicas of building facades and monuments, which have been stored in the British Museum for more than 100 years. 

This collection represents some of the best preserved records of ancient Maya writing. By working closely with our colleagues in Mexico and Guatemala, we’ve made this entire collection available online for anyone to enjoy and research themselves. The incredible stories that have emerged during this project have also been put online for people to enjoy in Spanish, Portuguese and English anywhere in the world.

The power of this project has been its exceptionally collaborative approach: We’ve brought together curators, indigenous communities, scholars and technology specialists across Mexico, Guatemala, the U.K., Denmark, France and the U.S. Everyone has been united by a common mission to communicate the true value of conserving shared cultural heritage. By working together, I think we’ve achieved that goal. Exploring the Maya World brings to life the energy and dynamism of culture in a way that can be hard to generate within a physical environment. The voices in this project are vibrant and full of color. They tell their own stories and the stories of those that have lived before.

The British Museum already enjoys welcoming more than 6 million visitors to our galleries every year. But we have the potential to reach millions more by bringing our museum to the world virtually. Only a few years ago it would have seemed unrealistic to create a catalog of 3D objects viewable from anywhere in the world, let alone walk around ancient Maya cities while sitting in your living room. These journeys of discovery are critical to help engage all communities with the value and wonder of cultural heritage.  

I believe that these are exactly the kinds of research projects that international museums need to take on. Only by taking risks and pushing the boundaries of what is possible can we begin to expand the reach and role of the 21st-century global museum. This project has inspired me to think differently about the future, and I am excited to see where this technology of imagination will take us next.

You can discover these stories by visiting Exploring the Maya World.

Journalism and AI team up to measure missing stories

Violent organized crime is one of the biggest crises facing Mexico, and it places journalists in harm’s way. Murders are a daily occurrence in many parts of the country, and research shows that Mexico is the most deadly place in the world for reporters outside of active war zones. The natural desire to avoid becoming a target has led some journalists to choose to stay quiet to save their lives.

Something akin to a code of silence has emerged across the country. We suspected that there were entire regions where journalists were not reporting on the violence, threats, intimidation and murder that were well known to be part of daily life.

We set out to measure this silence and its impact on journalism. To do so, we partnered with the Google News Initiative to use the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence to quantify and visualize news coverage and analyze the gaps in coverage across the country.

Our first step was to establish a process to determine the absence of news. We explored articles on violence to understand how they compare to the government's official registry of homicides.

In theory, each murder that occurs ought to correspond with at least one local report about the event. If we saw a divergence, or if the government's reports were suddenly very different from local news coverage, we could deduce that journalists were being silenced.

Early on, sorting through news articles seemed impossible. We knew we needed to find a news archive with the largest number of publications in Mexico possible so we could track daily coverage across the country. Google News’ vast collection of local and national news stories across Mexico was a good fit.

The effort required us to identify the difference between the number of homicides officially recorded and the news stories of those killings on Google News. This required machine learning algorithms that were able to identify the first reported story and then pinpoint where the event took place. With that information, we were able to connect reported events by media with the government's reports on homicides across more than 2400 municipalities in Mexico.

El Universal 3D map

A map of unreported murders across Mexico that were identified through El Universal’s project.  

Finally, to measure the degree of silence in each region of the country, we created a formula that allows us to see the evolution of this phenomenon over time. The resulting data shows a fascinating mix of falls or peaks in unreported deaths, which coincide with events such as the arrival of new governments or the deaths of drug dealers. Further investigation will allow us to explain these connections.

At El Universal, we’re committed to continue our search for news deserts, to enhance the vitality of journalism in Mexico and draw attention to how coverage varies according to the type of crimes committed in each region, not just homicides.

This exercise is another reminder that in Mexico, as in many other countries, we cannot take freedom of the press for granted.