Tag Archives: Google News Initiative

The Matchup will change the way you get sports news

Almost two years ago, our friends at Google challenged the Local Media Consortium (LMC) to come up with a “moonshot”—a project that would be big and game-changing and maybe even a little outside our comfort zone. Gathered in a conference room in New York, a dozen of us pitched 100 ideas, but only one was compelling enough to hold on for two years of planning and negotiation. 

The Matchup Logo.jpg

That idea, which had the pet name “Sportsball” for most of its infancy, is now launching as The Matchup, with the best sports content from local media outlets all over the U.S., covering professional and college sports with depth and hometown insight. The LMC will run the project, with support from the Google News Initiative.

Overall, the concept was born out of the notion that in order for local journalism to thrive, individual news organizations must lean into creating content and product experiences for our readers that is both unique and differentiated, and that we might need to collaborate with each other in the process. Sports is a huge user need and newspapers excel in that area—nobody covers the Dallas Cowboys (or Mavericks, Rangers or Stars) like The Dallas Morning News. The same is true all over the country, but it is prohibitive to subscribe to fifty different sites to get that depth of coverage. In February we worked with NewsCatalyst to gather product leaders from a half-dozen media companies to hammer out designs and functionality for a product that would solve that problem.

Here’s how The Matchup works: Initially, when reading about an upcoming game on your hometown news site, you will read stories from the opposing team’s local site too. If you want to read stories from the opposing team’s site, you won’t have to subscribe to their local news outlet to do so.  We’re achieving this by usingAMP, along with a framework from our friends at Distributed Media Lab

Soon, while continuing the content share, we will also launch a destination site specifically for The Matchup, which will showcase local sports news and columns covering all major pro and college teams in the United States and Canada. The site will be free to anyone with a subscription to a participating local news site—and that will be the only way to access the wealth of information at The Matchup. You’ll be able to follow specific teams, leagues and players with a customized daily dashboard.

The Matchup.png

The Matchup will be a part of existing sports pages on member sites and will have its own site in early 2021.

Together, LMC member sites account for 78 million sports readers, an audience third only to Yahoo! Sports and ESPN. Now, with a single subscription to a hometown news site, subscribers can access sports coverage from local beat writers who know the teams best. And we hope that other avid sports fans will join us by subscribing locally.

This is an unprecedented collaboration between local media companies big and small. When we first came up with the idea, the top objection was that we wouldn’t be able to gain enough participation to make it work. (And that’s not a new objection: In the mid-1990s, I pitched a national network of restaurant reviews for local magazines—-but it fizzled when publishers couldn’t even agree on where to go to dinner to discuss it further.)

We believe we’ve solved for much of the typical problem of bringing publishers together by working with the LMC and Google to bring people together, by not centralizing the product with any single media company and by ensuring that all the financial benefit goes back to the hometown publishers. All subscription revenue goes to the local companies, and any profits made off of sponsorships will be shared back as well. This means fans can feed their jones for sports while feeling good about supporting critical local public service journalism. 

Obviously, the pandemic has put a crimp in sports schedules, but it has only whetted the appetites of fans for more. When we’re all back together cheering the home team and razzing our rivals, The Matchup will put you in the front row.

What emergency funding means for publishers around the world

Established in 1904 in Oklahoma, the Lawton Constitution is one of more than 5,600 recipients of the Google News Initiative Journalism Emergency Relief Fund (JERF). Committed to serving local community journalism, the newspaper’s publisher, David Stringer, knows how difficult it is to fulfill its mission even with best intentions. “No matter how low the cost, we know that some residents want to read the paper but simply can’t afford it,” he says. So the Lawton Constitution has used JERF funds to subsidize half the cost of a subscription for those in need who want to stay informed, giving the community access to important information and building relationships for the future.

In South Korea, Kim Hong-tak from the Jeonnam Ilbo is using JERF funds to highlight the resilience of the local businesses affected by COVID-19. The publication has created a designated column focused on local small and medium sized businesses to highlight their strengths and values and serve as a bridge to connect them to the right government agencies for further support.

In the United Kingdom, DC Thomson used the funding to support new content teams to help generate 10,000 subscribers during lockdown. In Argentina, El Diario published an editorialdescribing how the funding will allow them “to continue..to keep the voices of the city and the region alive”. And, In Canada, Narcity Media will use the funds to increase their staff by hiring at least 1-2 new reporters. 

These are a handful of stories among many we received since launching JERF in April. When COVID-19 was turning the world upside down, we didn’t know what to expect. The intent was simple: help address a very real need from local publishers and news sites globally that are facing financial hardship as a result of the economic and advertising downturn. 

In the last few months, we have provided $39.5 million in funding to more than 5600 publishers in 115 countries. The money is being applied in diverse and creative ways, from ensuring basic reporting needs and giving emergency stipends to allow reporters to cover the crisis, to driving audience engagement and generating subscriptions.

Journalism Emergency Relief Fund infographic 1.jpg

Within two weeks of our announcement, we received more than 12,000 applications. The massive response gave us the opportunity to understand what “local” means in different parts of the world, and how dynamics ranging from newsroom size to ownership structure can differ depending on the region and the kinds of communities served. For instance, the average newsroom size varied from 20 in Asia Pacific to eight in North America. 

Journalism Emergency Relief Fund infographic 2.jpg

We learned from publishers that advertising continues to be the sole source of revenue for most JERF recipients, with 50 percent claiming to be totally advertising dependent. A survey we carried out also showed that less than 30 percent of recipients operate some form of a paywall, while less than 18 percent rely on community contributions or memberships to support their journalism. That situation is changing, though, with 60 percent of the recipients planning to diversify their revenue streams by developing subscription, membership or contribution models. 


Additionally, around 20 percent of publishers told us they are prioritizing a need for cultural change that includes a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion as well as organizational and business management.


The pandemic has affected everyone, and local news organizations have been at the forefront in helping their communities navigate COVID-19. At the Google News Initiative, we are trying to play our part with this funding and other initiatives as we all work towards the common goal of a sustainable, innovative and diverse news industry globally.

How local media can attract more advertisers

Advertising dollars that support local media are declining at a dramatic rate–a trend that has only been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. At the Local Media Consortium, we’ve seen this impact firsthand. The majority of our 4,000 local media members are experiencing a 30 to 60 percent drop in advertising revenue.


This is an alarming statistic that comes at a time when local journalism is critically important.  That’s why we recently launched the “Support Local News” campaign in partnership with Google and the Local Media Association, encouraging more advertising, subscriptions and donations to fund local newsrooms.


Now, we’ve teamed up with the Google News Initiative to analyze advertiser perceptions of local media in order to identify ways for these news organizations to strengthen their digital ad sales strategies. With more people relying on journalism in their communities, these findings come at a vital time for the industry.


Today, we’re publishing the “2020 Advertiser Assessment of Local Media Digital Advertising,” a study that examines the obstacles and opportunities for local news organizations to grow their digital news offerings in line with the business goals of advertisers. Market research firm Magid led this analysis and gathered insights from national and local advertisers and agencies across the United States to understand their perception of local media.


Based on the findings, Magid developed recommendations to help local media companies better meet advertiser needs and fuel digital revenue growth. Here are three takeaways that publishers can act on now. 


  1. Strengthen sales teams’ digital expertise. 
    Magid found that more than half of advertisers think trustworthy relationships with publisher sales teams are extremely important when making investment decisions. While advertisers see value in local media because of their market proximity and unique relationship with communities, many find their digital expertise to be a barrier. This digital knowledge gap is preventing advertisers from spending more with local news

    Local media companies should prioritize equipping their teams with digital sales training, so they can more effectively provide advertisers with campaign recommendations and insights, as well as serve as credible consultative partners. Publishers can jumpstart their efforts by tapping industry partners, internal experts and external training tools, like those offered by the LMC and the Google News Initiative.

  2. Improve campaign monitoring and reporting.
    Advertisers rated performance and business results as the top factors in influencing their investment decisions. Yet a consistent theme in our research was that local media ad campaigns lacked efficient processes and in-depth reporting and analysis. Marketers expressed desire for greater guidance from publishers on their campaign metrics and how to act on them.

    To address this opportunity, local media companies should focus on developing more streamlined processes and campaign reports that are timely, intelligible and solutions-oriented. Data points that advertisers highlighted as particularly important in their buying decisions were user engagement, the viewability of their ads, article and video completion rates and unique audiences. 

  3. Identify what makes your local publication unique. 
    Local news connects people to their community and creates citizen engagement unlike any other medium. Advertisers consistently mentioned this benefit when discussing the advantages of working with local publishers. Partnering with a media organization that is trusted in their community allows brands to embed themselves within that community in a meaningful way. For advertisers, this trustworthy relationship can be as important as return-on-investment.

    Local publishers should lead with this differentiated positioning in their sales approach and provide comprehensive case studies that showcase the success of their specific audience and offerings. For example, a tribe owned casino in South Florida recently partnered with the Miami Herald to elevate their brand awareness and voice in the community. The campaign included digital brand storytelling on McClatchy’s website and creative murals in Miami, which resulted in 250 percent growth in ticket sales for the casino’s annual arts festival.

Addressing the local media advertising dilemma will help provide a path toward sustaining the trusted reporting that is so important to our communities. We hope these insights bring local publishers opportunities to drive digital revenue growth–now and in the future.  

Local publishers interested in learning more are invited to join our webinar on Friday, July 24 at 1:00 p.m. ET by signing-up on our site. For additional resources supported by the Google News Initiative, please check out their workshop series on strategies to help publishers accelerate digital advertising revenue.

News Brief: June updates from the Google News Initiative

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the news community has rapidly adjusted to new working conditions and challenges. But their core mission of providing quality information remains unchanged. We’re expanding our resources to help drive revenue growth for newsrooms, supporting journalists through fellowship programs and adapting online resources to help grow editorial and verification skills. Here’s what the Google News Initiative launched in June.

Expanding global trainings for journalists

Over the coming weeks, we’ll offer a number of free week-long training series on YouTube to help journalists grow their digital reporting skills. The sessions will be available in multiple languages and time zones. Through YouTube’s live chat, journalists will be able to interact with our trainers and get answers to any questions they have on how to use our tools for reporting. 

Across Australia and New Zealand, we worked with First Draft News and the Walkley Foundation to launch live training sessions for journalists, including one in partnership with Grow with Google. We also kicked off a regional publishers pilot program aimed at supporting regional and emerging publishers in their digital transition, and appointed Neil Varcoe, our first ever Publishing Fellow. For the next 12 months, Neil will provide training and support to regional and emerging publishers across Australia and New Zealand.

To support news organizations during the ongoing pandemic, we organized a GNI training series for Southeast Asia in English, Mandarin Chinese and Malay featuring classes like Fact-Checking for COVID-19 Misinformation, Digital Tools for More Efficient Reporting and Data Journalism for Rookies. In Vietnam, we organized a dedicated webinar for more than 100 media organizations to share how our products can help support local media.

New tools and programs to boost revenue growth for publishers

We’re partnering with the French Association of Online Publishers (GESTE) and Poool to support the Digital Media Review, a benchmark tool made available for free to all publishers to assist them with their revenue strategy.

In partnership with the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), we’re exploring new ways to help nonprofit newsrooms grow sponsorship revenue into a sustainable, cost-effective income source. Through the program, a cohort of up to 10 newsrooms will receive one-on-one coaching, and all 250 INN members will have access to a custom playbook that includes best practices for increasing sponsorship revenue. 

We’re also working with local media organizations to grow advertising revenue through cohort-based programs. In Indonesia, we worked with AnyMind Group and PT Promedia Punggawa Satu to help seven local media organizations optimize their websites, improve their user experiences and develop revenue strategies through online advertising. In North America, we’ll be working with 10up to host a four-part workshop series, sharing lessons from the GNI Ad Revenue Lab and key strategies to monetize content. The workshops will begin on July 22, and we invite all small-to-midsize news publishers to join the conversation by RSVPing on our website.

Encouraging future journalists through the GNI Fellowship program

The Google News Initiative Fellowship program seeks to bring young talent into newsrooms to help kickstart their careers in journalism. Applications are now open for the U.S. Fellowship program, created in collaboration with the National Newspapers Publishers Association, the National Association of Hispanic Publishers and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. The fall program in the U.S. is designed to address the barriers of access that students and graduates of color face when trying to get into the industry. 

The 2020 GNI Fellowship in Europe also kicked off this week as part of our ongoing work with the European Journalism Centre (EJC). Following more than 1,400 applications, leading European news organizations across 14 countries will host 40 fellows in an eight-week fellowship. The cohort of fellows includes aspiring media professionals with a range of backgrounds in fields like journalism, design, computer science and philosophy.

Collaborating with fact-checkers to combat misinformation

The seventh Global Fact-Checking Summit took place entirely online, with more than 950 participants from more than 70 countries. Most panels from the International Fact-Checking Network’s annual conference are accessible on the event’s dedicated website. The Google News Initiative has supported Global Fact continuously since 2017; earlier this year the GNI also provided $6.5M to efforts fighting COVID-19 misinformation globally.

That’s a wrap for June. Stay tuned for more updates, and follow along on social media and the GNI’s newsletter.

News Brief: June updates from the Google News Initiative

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the news community has rapidly adjusted to new working conditions and challenges. But their core mission of providing quality information remains unchanged. We’re expanding our resources to help drive revenue growth for newsrooms, supporting journalists through fellowship programs and adapting online resources to help grow editorial and verification skills. Here’s what the Google News Initiative launched in June.

Expanding global trainings for journalists

Over the coming weeks, we’ll offer a number of free week-long training series on YouTube to help journalists grow their digital reporting skills. The sessions will be available in multiple languages and time zones. Through YouTube’s live chat, journalists will be able to interact with our trainers and get answers to any questions they have on how to use our tools for reporting. 

Across Australia and New Zealand, we worked with First Draft News and the Walkley Foundation to launch live training sessions for journalists, including one in partnership with Grow with Google. We also kicked off a regional publishers pilot program aimed at supporting regional and emerging publishers in their digital transition, and appointed Neil Varcoe, our first ever Publishing Fellow. For the next 12 months, Neil will provide training and support to regional and emerging publishers across Australia and New Zealand.

To support news organizations during the ongoing pandemic, we organized a GNI training series for Southeast Asia in English, Mandarin Chinese and Malay featuring classes like Fact-Checking for COVID-19 Misinformation, Digital Tools for More Efficient Reporting and Data Journalism for Rookies. In Vietnam, we organized a dedicated webinar for more than 100 media organizations to share how our products can help support local media.

New tools and programs to boost revenue growth for publishers

We’re partnering with the French Association of Online Publishers (GESTE) and Poool to support the Digital Media Review, a benchmark tool made available for free to all publishers to assist them with their revenue strategy.

In partnership with the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), we’re exploring new ways to help nonprofit newsrooms grow sponsorship revenue into a sustainable, cost-effective income source. Through the program, a cohort of up to 10 newsrooms will receive one-on-one coaching, and all 250 INN members will have access to a custom playbook that includes best practices for increasing sponsorship revenue. 

We’re also working with local media organizations to grow advertising revenue through cohort-based programs. In Indonesia, we worked with AnyMind Group and PT Promedia Punggawa Satu to help seven local media organizations optimize their websites, improve their user experiences and develop revenue strategies through online advertising. In North America, we’ll be working with 10up to host a four-part workshop series, sharing lessons from the GNI Ad Revenue Lab and key strategies to monetize content. The workshops will begin on July 22, and we invite all small-to-midsize news publishers to join the conversation by RSVPing on our website.

Encouraging future journalists through the GNI Fellowship program

The Google News Initiative Fellowship program seeks to bring young talent into newsrooms to help kickstart their careers in journalism. Applications are now open for the U.S. Fellowship program, created in collaboration with the National Newspapers Publishers Association, the National Association of Hispanic Publishers and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. The fall program in the U.S. is designed to address the barriers of access that students and graduates of color face when trying to get into the industry. 

The 2020 GNI Fellowship in Europe also kicked off this week as part of our ongoing work with the European Journalism Centre (EJC). Following more than 1,400 applications, leading European news organizations across 14 countries will host 40 fellows in an eight-week fellowship. The cohort of fellows includes aspiring media professionals with a range of backgrounds in fields like journalism, design, computer science and philosophy.

Collaborating with fact-checkers to combat misinformation

The seventh Global Fact-Checking Summit took place entirely online, with more than 950 participants from more than 70 countries. Most panels from the International Fact-Checking Network’s annual conference are accessible on the event’s dedicated website. The Google News Initiative has supported Global Fact continuously since 2017; earlier this year the GNI also provided $6.5M to efforts fighting COVID-19 misinformation globally.

That’s a wrap for June. Stay tuned for more updates, and follow along on social media and the GNI’s newsletter.

News Brief: June updates from the Google News Initiative

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the news community has rapidly adjusted to new working conditions and challenges. But their core mission of providing quality information remains unchanged. We’re expanding our resources to help drive revenue growth for newsrooms, supporting journalists through fellowship programs and adapting online resources to help grow editorial and verification skills. Here’s what the Google News Initiative launched in June.

Expanding global trainings for journalists

Over the coming weeks, we’ll offer a number of free week-long training series on YouTube to help journalists grow their digital reporting skills. The sessions will be available in multiple languages and time zones. Through YouTube’s live chat, journalists will be able to interact with our trainers and get answers to any questions they have on how to use our tools for reporting. 

Across Australia and New Zealand, we worked with First Draft News and the Walkley Foundation to launch live training sessions for journalists, including one in partnership with Grow with Google. We also kicked off a regional publishers pilot program aimed at supporting regional and emerging publishers in their digital transition, and appointed Neil Varcoe, our first ever Publishing Fellow. For the next 12 months, Neil will provide training and support to regional and emerging publishers across Australia and New Zealand.

To support news organizations during the ongoing pandemic, we organized a GNI training series for Southeast Asia in English, Mandarin Chinese and Malay featuring classes like Fact-Checking for COVID-19 Misinformation, Digital Tools for More Efficient Reporting and Data Journalism for Rookies. In Vietnam, we organized a dedicated webinar for more than 100 media organizations to share how our products can help support local media.

New tools and programs to boost revenue growth for publishers

We’re partnering with the French Association of Online Publishers (GESTE) and Poool to support the Digital Media Review, a benchmark tool made available for free to all publishers to assist them with their revenue strategy.

In partnership with the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), we’re exploring new ways to help nonprofit newsrooms grow sponsorship revenue into a sustainable, cost-effective income source. Through the program, a cohort of up to 10 newsrooms will receive one-on-one coaching, and all 250 INN members will have access to a custom playbook that includes best practices for increasing sponsorship revenue. 

We’re also working with local media organizations to grow advertising revenue through cohort-based programs. In Indonesia, we worked with AnyMind Group and PT Promedia Punggawa Satu to help seven local media organizations optimize their websites, improve their user experiences and develop revenue strategies through online advertising. In North America, we’ll be working with 10up to host a four-part workshop series, sharing lessons from the GNI Ad Revenue Lab and key strategies to monetize content. The workshops will begin on July 22, and we invite all small-to-midsize news publishers to join the conversation by RSVPing on our website.

Encouraging future journalists through the GNI Fellowship program

The Google News Initiative Fellowship program seeks to bring young talent into newsrooms to help kickstart their careers in journalism. Applications are now open for the U.S. Fellowship program, created in collaboration with the National Newspapers Publishers Association, the National Association of Hispanic Publishers and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. The fall program in the U.S. is designed to address the barriers of access that students and graduates of color face when trying to get into the industry. 

The 2020 GNI Fellowship in Europe also kicked off this week as part of our ongoing work with the European Journalism Centre (EJC). Following more than 1,400 applications, leading European news organizations across 14 countries will host 40 fellows in an eight-week fellowship. The cohort of fellows includes aspiring media professionals with a range of backgrounds in fields like journalism, design, computer science and philosophy.

Collaborating with fact-checkers to combat misinformation

The seventh Global Fact-Checking Summit took place entirely online, with more than 950 participants from more than 70 countries. Most panels from the International Fact-Checking Network’s annual conference are accessible on the event’s dedicated website. The Google News Initiative has supported Global Fact continuously since 2017; earlier this year the GNI also provided $6.5M to efforts fighting COVID-19 misinformation globally.

That’s a wrap for June. Stay tuned for more updates, and follow along on social media and the GNI’s newsletter.

Our Startups Lab will coach aspiring news entrepreneurs

The opportunity was obvious to me: I wanted to create an email newsletter that explained complex stories to help readers make sense of what was happening in their city. So my cofounder and I created a Google Slides presentation outlining our intended audience, editorial mission and back-of-the-napkin budgeting. Our next steps? Those weren’t so clear.

That was nearly four years ago, and after bumbling my way through launching the project, I knew there needed to be a better support system for future aspiring entrepreneurs. Since joining Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, an association with nearly 300 U.S. and Canadian-based news businesses, I’ve talked with dozens of our members who at some point also thought to themselves, “OK, now what do I do?”

That’s why LION Publishers has partnered with the Google News Initiative to launch the GNI Startups Lab, a program that will help aspiring news entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Canada prove there is a need and audience for their idea, build their news product and set their business on the path to sustainability. 

Even as local news publications continue to shrink or even shutter, we see readers’ appetites for trustworthy news reporting only growing. We want to support our existing members, and along with the GNI, help create digital news startups. In particular, we want to create outlets for underserved communities that have not historically seen themselves reflected in their local news.

Today we’re opening applications for the first phase of our program: an eight-week, fully remote boot camp that includes live online classes, one-on-one coaching and peer learning. The boot camp will be led by advisor Phillip Smith, who has helped many media startups shape and launch their businesses through the Journalism Entrepreneurship Training Co. 

Upon graduating, boot camp participants will have either launched or further developed their news offering. They will be able to provide a realistic revenue forecast for the next six months to three years, know how to execute on a set of three-month objectives and have a deeper understanding of how the project will serve their audiences’ needs. 

The GNI Startups Lab will also collaborate with Project Oasis, a GNI-funded research project that is studying how digital news startups in North America can succeed, and will share resources like our Starter Pack with templates and guides to launch a local news business.

We’ll be accepting up to 24 teams of U.S. and Canadian-based entrepreneurs who have identified a community’s need for better news and want guidance on how to either launch or further develop a recently launched news business. Maybe that’s a podcast covering a city government or a site with in-depth reporting on local immigrant communities. We want to know what entrepreneurs think their communities need. 

Also, while we expect participants to commit to their startup over the eight-week boot camp, we’ve designed the program to accommodate those who need to continue to work a full-time job. 

We are especially interested in applications from entrepreneurs who are underrepresented in media and/or driven to serve underrepresented communities. While we will prioritize entrepreneurs focused on a geographically-based community, we will also consider applications that cover a single topic instead, like Chalkbeat, The Plug or Grist

As part of the GNI Startups Lab, we’ll also be creating an online community of practice and peer learning open to anyone interested in journalism entrepreneurship. Sign up on our website to receive more details.

Phase two of the GNI Startups Lab, launching later this year, will offer boot camp graduates and other entrepreneurs a six-month opportunity to learn the fundamentals of operating a journalism business and receive peer mentorship, with the goal of developing loyal customers and recurring revenue. 

The GNI Startups Lab provides critically needed opportunities for passionate news entrepreneurs who care deeply about serving their communities. We look forward to introducing the world to their journalism projects in the coming months.


Our Startups Lab will coach aspiring news entrepreneurs

The opportunity was obvious to me: I wanted to create an email newsletter that explained complex stories to help readers make sense of what was happening in their city. So my cofounder and I created a Google Slides presentation outlining our intended audience, editorial mission and back-of-the-napkin budgeting. Our next steps? Those weren’t so clear.

That was nearly four years ago, and after bumbling my way through launching the project, I knew there needed to be a better support system for future aspiring entrepreneurs. Since joining Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, an association with nearly 300 U.S. and Canadian-based news businesses, I’ve talked with dozens of our members who at some point also thought to themselves, “OK, now what do I do?”

That’s why LION Publishers has partnered with the Google News Initiative to launch the GNI Startups Lab, a program that will help aspiring news entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Canada prove there is a need and audience for their idea, build their news product and set their business on the path to sustainability. 

Even as local news publications continue to shrink or even shutter, we see readers’ appetites for trustworthy news reporting only growing. We want to support our existing members, and along with the GNI, help create digital news startups. In particular, we want to create outlets for underserved communities that have not historically seen themselves reflected in their local news.

Today we’re opening applications for the first phase of our program: an eight-week, fully remote boot camp that includes live online classes, one-on-one coaching and peer learning. The boot camp will be led by advisor Phillip Smith, who has helped many media startups shape and launch their businesses through the Journalism Entrepreneurship Training Co. 

Upon graduating, boot camp participants will have either launched or further developed their news offering. They will be able to provide a realistic revenue forecast for the next six months to three years, know how to execute on a set of three-month objectives and have a deeper understanding of how the project will serve their audiences’ needs. 

The GNI Startups Lab will also collaborate with Project Oasis, a GNI-funded research project that is studying how digital news startups in North America can succeed, and will share resources like our Starter Pack with templates and guides to launch a local news business.

We’ll be accepting up to 24 teams of U.S. and Canadian-based entrepreneurs who have identified a community’s need for better news and want guidance on how to either launch or further develop a recently launched news business. Maybe that’s a podcast covering a city government or a site with in-depth reporting on local immigrant communities. We want to know what entrepreneurs think their communities need. 

Also, while we expect participants to commit to their startup over the eight-week boot camp, we’ve designed the program to accommodate those who need to continue to work a full-time job. 

We are especially interested in applications from entrepreneurs who are underrepresented in media and/or driven to serve underrepresented communities. While we will prioritize entrepreneurs focused on a geographically-based community, we will also consider applications that cover a single topic instead, like Chalkbeat, The Plug or Grist

As part of the GNI Startups Lab, we’ll also be creating an online community of practice and peer learning open to anyone interested in journalism entrepreneurship. Sign up on our website to receive more details.

Phase two of the GNI Startups Lab, launching later this year, will offer boot camp graduates and other entrepreneurs a six-month opportunity to learn the fundamentals of operating a journalism business and receive peer mentorship, with the goal of developing loyal customers and recurring revenue. 

The GNI Startups Lab provides critically needed opportunities for passionate news entrepreneurs who care deeply about serving their communities. We look forward to introducing the world to their journalism projects in the coming months.


Our Startups Lab will coach aspiring news entrepreneurs

The opportunity was obvious to me: I wanted to create an email newsletter that explained complex stories to help readers make sense of what was happening in their city. So my cofounder and I created a Google Slides presentation outlining our intended audience, editorial mission and back-of-the-napkin budgeting. Our next steps? Those weren’t so clear.

That was nearly four years ago, and after bumbling my way through launching the project, I knew there needed to be a better support system for future aspiring entrepreneurs. Since joining Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, an association with nearly 300 U.S. and Canadian-based news businesses, I’ve talked with dozens of our members who at some point also thought to themselves, “OK, now what do I do?”

That’s why LION Publishers has partnered with the Google News Initiative to launch the GNI Startups Lab, a program that will help aspiring news entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Canada prove there is a need and audience for their idea, build their news product and set their business on the path to sustainability. 

Even as local news publications continue to shrink or even shutter, we see readers’ appetites for trustworthy news reporting only growing. We want to support our existing members, and along with the GNI, help create digital news startups. In particular, we want to create outlets for underserved communities that have not historically seen themselves reflected in their local news.

Today we’re opening applications for the first phase of our program: an eight-week, fully remote boot camp that includes live online classes, one-on-one coaching and peer learning. The boot camp will be led by advisor Phillip Smith, who has helped many media startups shape and launch their businesses through the Journalism Entrepreneurship Training Co. 

Upon graduating, boot camp participants will have either launched or further developed their news offering. They will be able to provide a realistic revenue forecast for the next six months to three years, know how to execute on a set of three-month objectives and have a deeper understanding of how the project will serve their audiences’ needs. 

The GNI Startups Lab will also collaborate with Project Oasis, a GNI-funded research project that is studying how digital news startups in North America can succeed, and will share resources like our Starter Pack with templates and guides to launch a local news business.

We’ll be accepting up to 24 teams of U.S. and Canadian-based entrepreneurs who have identified a community’s need for better news and want guidance on how to either launch or further develop a recently launched news business. Maybe that’s a podcast covering a city government or a site with in-depth reporting on local immigrant communities. We want to know what entrepreneurs think their communities need. 

Also, while we expect participants to commit to their startup over the eight-week boot camp, we’ve designed the program to accommodate those who need to continue to work a full-time job. 

We are especially interested in applications from entrepreneurs who are underrepresented in media and/or driven to serve underrepresented communities. While we will prioritize entrepreneurs focused on a geographically-based community, we will also consider applications that cover a single topic instead, like Chalkbeat, The Plug or Grist

As part of the GNI Startups Lab, we’ll also be creating an online community of practice and peer learning open to anyone interested in journalism entrepreneurship. Sign up on our website to receive more details.

Phase two of the GNI Startups Lab, launching later this year, will offer boot camp graduates and other entrepreneurs a six-month opportunity to learn the fundamentals of operating a journalism business and receive peer mentorship, with the goal of developing loyal customers and recurring revenue. 

The GNI Startups Lab provides critically needed opportunities for passionate news entrepreneurs who care deeply about serving their communities. We look forward to introducing the world to their journalism projects in the coming months.


Helping European news publishers succeed online

During the pandemic, demand for local news has grown as people try to stay up to date. COVID-19 has also increased the financial challenges many of these news publishers face. It’s now more important than ever to support local news, and that’s why we are introducing the Digital Growth Program from the Google News Initiative (GNI), a free training program for small-to-medium sized news publishers. This will be available first in Europe, and will roll out to more regions in the coming months. 


The GNI Digital Growth Program has been created to help establish and grow the online business of news publishers who have more recently started developing their digital platforms. We meet regularly with publishers of all sizes to hear how we can help them develop their products, expand their business and improve their readers’ online experience. Based on feedback from these conversations, we’ve designed workshops which cover the fundamentals of digital business strategy, audience engagement and revenue strategy.


In Europe, we have partnered with FT Strategies and Table Stakes Europe from WAN-IFRA to deliver in-depth labs, which include intensive training sessions and mentoring delivered over a number of weeks and months. As part of these labs, our partners will offer training from industry experts on a range of subjects, including change management, subscriptions and audience growth. While the training is free, spaces are limited and available upon application. 


The GNI Digital Growth Program is available from today in six countries: Spain, the UK, Germany, Italy, Poland and France.  It’s all in local languages, and many more countries to follow in the coming months. Publishers can sign up to a workshop or apply for a lab at the GNI Digital Growth Program page. 


Together with the participating publishers, we will measure how this program helps to improve their business over time. This builds on many years of support we’ve provided to the news industry as part of the Google News Initiative. Most recently that support entailed emergency funding to more than 5,300 local news organizationsand five months of fee relief on Ad Manager for news publishers globally. Through these and other programs, products and partnerships, we remain committed to supporting news publishers of all sizes around the world as they transition to a more digital world.