Tag Archives: Google News Initiative

How does a 140-year-old newspaper reinvent itself?

Editor’s note: This week, the GNI Subscriptions Lab will lead sessions at the Mega-Conference in Fort Worth, TX to share best practices and opportunities to grow digital subscriptions in line with reader preference. Here’s an inside look at those lessons from The Buffalo News.

Six years ago, we launched our first paywall at The Buffalo News. We had exactly one tool for growing digital subscriptions: tighten the wall. This approach was doomed to fail. We needed to do the hard work of building digital capabilities we didn’t have, while setting aside other priorities.

First, that meant getting everyone on board with digital subscriptions as the organizational focus. Through the Google News Initiative Subscriptions Lab, a program developed for North American publishers by Google, Local Media Association and FTI Consulting, we came to see how digital subscriptions could be the foundation of a sustainable business model, not just a new revenue stream. As a longtime Buffalo News publisher used to say when trying to keep his team on track, “the main thing is the main thing.” A simple financial modeling exercise during our first Lab meeting revealed the revenue opportunities and left us with one conclusion: Digital subscriptions needed to become our “main thing.”

This was no small change for our 140-year-old company. We were a print-focused, advertising-driven newspaper. Now, we’re becoming a consumer-focused, digital publishing business. Transformation has meant saying no to worthy ideas and asking everyone to sacrifice their own priorities for the common goal of growing digital subscriptions. That focus has helped reduce friction and make decision-making much crisper.

We created a team charged with growing our digital subscription business and invested in e-commerce and data expertise. Existing departments that could impact consumer revenue, from customer service to promotions, were realigned to support consumer revenue growth. Cross-functional initiatives across editorial, tech and sales became the norm in support of digital subscriptions.

The foundation for a new business was being built, but much remained unclear. What metrics should we monitor? What additional digital tools did we need? How do we set our priorities? Are we headed in the right direction?

In the GNI Subscriptions Lab, we immediately learned what metrics matter to convert readers into digital subscribers, and how we stack up against our publishing peers. We embraced the program’s push to experiment—and have been rewarded with meaningful results. With each success, we become more confident that we are on the right path.

The Lab encouraged us, for example, to launch a prompt on our homepage that asks readers to sign-up for our flagship newsletter, “Good Morning, Buffalo.” As a result, we’ve added more than 60,000 newsletter subscribers over the past six months. 

Our percentage of readers with an associated email address is six times larger now than before we began the Lab. We’ve learned that this metric is important, as known readers are not only more loyal, but also 10 times more likely to convert to digital subscribers than anonymous visitors. We’ve since focused on this audience to grow subscribers and boost engagement. More than 14 percent of our new digital subscribers since the Lab began have come from a newsletter subscriber. 

We previously weren’t tracking many of these data points; now, we’re making decisions based on how they’ll move these numbers. Most importantly, we’ve increased our number of digital subscribers by 49 percent since the start of the GNI Subscriptions Lab. Monthly digital subscription revenue is up 23 percent, while average revenue per user is up 14 percent during that same period. That growth has allowed us to invest more in consumer revenue expertise and technology.

All of this puts us on the path toward our ultimate goal: preserving in-depth journalism in Western New York.


Funding 21 news projects in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey

Finding new and meaningful ways to engage readers is a hot topic for news organizations of any size, and the first Google News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa prompted a myriad of different approaches. The GNI Innovation Challenges,  part of Google’s $300 million commitment to help journalism thrive in the digital age, saw news innovators step forward with new thinking. In South Africa, Daily Maverick proposed a “relevancy engine” that would aggregate data feeds about reader behavior for small and medium publishers. In Jordan, podcast startup Sowt looked to tackle the challenge with a new hosting platform for news podcasts.


We launched the Middle East, Turkey and Africa Innovation Challenge last June, and received 527 applications from 35 countries. After a rigorous review, a round of interviews and a final jury selection process, we selected 21 projects from 13 countries to receive $1.93 million in funding.


The call for applications listed four criteria: impact, feasibility, innovation and inspiration, and the successful projects clearly demonstrated all four. Here are just a few of the awardees (you can find the full list on our website):


  • Demirören Teknoloji Anonim Şirketi in Turkey wants to solve the tagging process for the Turkish language to help with the news discovery distribution process. Currently this work requires cumbersome manual work from their journalists, taking a precious share of their time. 

  • Daily news publisher Israel Hayom will be creating a loyalty scheme where online users get real-life rewards in the form of tickets or money-saving offers. 

  • Nas News wants to engage Iraq’s citizens in video debates for positive change with a mobile-first social and news platform that allows users to read and debate on local and national topics.

  • L'Orient le Jour in Lebanon wants to build a new loyalty plan to offer special and personalized privileges to subscribers via an interactive platform.

  • The National in the UAE will develop a service that converts quality text news into audio in real time, in both English and Arabic.

  • Ringier Africa Digital Publishing in Nigeria will be increasing personalization across their platform using a blend of prediction, recommendation and local information pages to increase user engagement.

A second round of theMiddle East, Turkey and Africa Innovation Challenge will open for applications later in the year: Watch for details on our website.

A home-grown news site for Peterborough

Editor’s note: Today’s guest post comes from John Baker, Chief Reporter, Peterborough Matters. 

I’ve worked in local news for 15 years and experienced how meaningful it is to a community. As I’ve walked through the city from my home in Woodston and visited local people in Cathedral Square, Bretton, Werrington and elsewhere, I’m reminded of what makes our city so vibrant and draws my friends to visit often. 

We love Cathedral Square with the iconic 17th century Guildhall, shops, and eateries, plus the Cathedral itself which is one of England’s finest Norman cathedrals. We love the many events that take place in Peterborough, like the Beer Festival, Heritage Festival, Queensgate, and the annual Perkins Great Eastern Run half marathon, to name a few. This strong sense of pride is why I’m proud to announce today’s launch of a digital news site for Peterborough. 

Peterborough Matters is the first of three local news sites launched by Archant’s Project Neon in partnership with the Google News Initiative’s Local News Experiments Project. The projects first partnered with American publisher McClatchy and launched Mahoning Matters in Youngstown, Ohio last year. These sites will test and build different editorial and business models as we work toward the goal of financial sustainability. 

Our team is proud of our Peterborough roots and eager to serve the community. I have lived in the Fens for 40 years and in Peterborough for a decade. Our reporter Shariqua Ahmed, who worked in newspapers in India before three years at BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, will bring her broadcasting skills and knowledge of the city's diverse cultural heritage and communities into our newsroom. We’re also excited to introduce our other local reporter Carly Beech who grew up in Peterborough, attending Thomas Deacon Academy before studying journalism at university, followed by a stint at the Daily Star. Our content assistant Charlotte Moore was born and raised in Peterborough and worked as a library assistant for Vivacity for three years. She has a keen passion for the heritage of the city and its environmental issues. 

We will use our talents to make sure you know about important news like crime, road accidents, council meetings, and weather. We’ll also help connect the community more with compelling in-depth stories about the people, places, and events that make up the fabric of our community. You'll learn about people you don't know, stories you've not heard, and ideas you might not have considered.

This is an experiment and we will aim to earn your trust each day with each story. Our partnership with the Google News Initiative enables us to meld the best of our editorial minds with Google’s expertise in best product practices. We will work together in a transparent and experimental way and share our learnings publicly. 

Your feedback is of critical importance and we hope you will share more of what's important to you and why. We will have open-house events to engage with you where you can hear from those making the city tick.

Thank you to all of you who have helped us as we’ve prepared for this launch. Your support means a lot and we will work to be worthy of it. Join the conversation, contact us onFacebook, Twitter,or e-mail. Peterborough Matters to us and we look forward to building this together.

GNI Subscriptions Lab expands to Europe to help publishers grow revenue

The news industry continues to face tough challenges as the way people find and access information changes. At the same time, we’re seeing promising results from publishers who are developing new business models and ways of working to support high quality journalism in the digital age. Our Google News Initiative is designed to support this innovation and help journalism thrive. 

As part of this, we’re hosting our second Google News Initiative Summit in Amsterdam this week which brings together hundreds of publishers, news executives, editors and academics from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa to discuss the latest opportunities and challenges for the news industry. We’ll talk about the latest products and innovations, as well as important topics like the role of machine learning in publishing and new ways of growing reader revenue.  

One of the topics we hear a lot about is which products or technologies can help publishers grow revenue from their digital content. While many large publishers have seen great success from digital subscriptions, we are doing more to ensure smaller and local news publishers have the same opportunity to find out what works for their content. 

At this week’s event, we’ll announce the expansion of our GNI Subscriptions Labs program to Europe, building on the success of similar Labs in North America and Latin America. The European Lab has been developed in partnership with FT Strategies and the International News Media Association (INMA) and is designed to help European publishers strengthen digital subscriptions capabilities and grow reader revenue. The nine-month program includes in-person consultancy and coaching to help publishers understand, experiment and optimise their subscription models. Applications open today and the experience and learnings gained from the GNI Subscriptions Lab will be shared with publishers around the world to help them implement their own digital subscription strategies.

The GNI Subscriptions Lab in Europe is one of several efforts to help publishers' find new ways to grow revenue from their digital content. We also work with many European publishers on products like Subscribe with Google which creates a simple way for readers to subscribe to news publications and maintain access everywhere. Groupe Le Monde in France and Il Fatto Quotidiano in Italy announced their implementations just this month.

Another key topic at the event is how to equip publishers and journalists with the latest information and insights on digital news. In the-last five years, we've trained 370,000 journalists in Europe through the Google News Initiative and this year we'll host three major training summits with the European Journalism Centre (EJC). Together with the EJC we'll also support over 40 news organizations to host a journalism student for the summer months. 

Alongside this, we’ve renewed our support of the Reuters Institute Digital News Report for an additional three years. This is an independent report which looks at changing reader behaviour around the world, providing important insights to publishers. Our partnership enables the Reuters Institute to cover more countries in the report, provide further in-depth analysis of developments in news and media, and support fellowships for mid-career journalists. This year, the partnership will also provide off-site leadership development programs for senior editors and media executives. 

Google is committed to collaborating with publishers on their digital strategies and is investing more into programs and partnerships across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. We look forward to an exciting event of discussions, insights and ideas from publishers across the region.


GNI Subscriptions Lab expands to Europe to help publishers grow revenue

The news industry continues to face tough challenges as the way people find and access information changes. At the same time, we’re seeing promising results from publishers who are developing new business models and ways of working to support high quality journalism in the digital age. Our Google News Initiative is designed to support this innovation and help journalism thrive. 

As part of this, we’re hosting our second Google News Initiative Summit in Amsterdam this week which brings together hundreds of publishers, news executives, editors and academics from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa to discuss the latest opportunities and challenges for the news industry. We’ll talk about the latest products and innovations, as well as important topics like the role of machine learning in publishing and new ways of growing reader revenue.  

One of the topics we hear a lot about is which products or technologies can help publishers grow revenue from their digital content. While many large publishers have seen great success from digital subscriptions, we are doing more to ensure smaller and local news publishers have the same opportunity to find out what works for their content. 

At this week’s event, we’ll announce the expansion of our GNI Subscriptions Labs program to Europe, building on the success of similar Labs in North America and Latin America. The European Lab has been developed in partnership with FT Strategies and the International News Media Association (INMA) and is designed to help European publishers strengthen digital subscriptions capabilities and grow reader revenue. The nine-month program includes in-person consultancy and coaching to help publishers understand, experiment and optimise their subscription models. Applications open today and the experience and learnings gained from the GNI Subscriptions Lab will be shared with publishers around the world to help them implement their own digital subscription strategies.

The GNI Subscriptions Lab in Europe is one of several efforts to help publishers' find new ways to grow revenue from their digital content. We also work with many European publishers on products like Subscribe with Google which creates a simple way for readers to subscribe to news publications and maintain access everywhere. Groupe Le Monde in France and Il Fatto Quotidiano in Italy announced their implementations just this month.

Another key topic at the event is how to equip publishers and journalists with the latest information and insights on digital news. In the-last five years, we've trained 370,000 journalists in Europe through the Google News Initiative and this year we'll host three major training summits with the European Journalism Centre (EJC). Together with the EJC we'll also support over 40 news organizations to host a journalism student for the summer months. 

Alongside this, we’ve renewed our support of the Reuters Institute Digital News Report for an additional three years. This is an independent report which looks at changing reader behaviour around the world, providing important insights to publishers. Our partnership enables the Reuters Institute to cover more countries in the report, provide further in-depth analysis of developments in news and media, and support fellowships for mid-career journalists. This year, the partnership will also provide off-site leadership development programs for senior editors and media executives. 

Google is committed to collaborating with publishers on their digital strategies and is investing more into programs and partnerships across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. We look forward to an exciting event of discussions, insights and ideas from publishers across the region.


News Brief: January updates from the Google News Initiative

It’s only been one month of the new decade so far, but it feels more like one year. 2020 has been jam-packed. We hope you’re off to a fresh start - keep reading for a few highlights from January.


Supporting Latino journalists across North and South America

In partnership with the GNI, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists is kicking off a training initiative with 12 Spanish-language newsrooms in the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico. This program will include trainings aimed at strengthening journalists' technical and digital verification skills as part of the GNI's larger initiative to train journalists in all 50 states and D.C. ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections.


We’re also working with Chicas Poderosas, a global community that aims to train and empower women in media, to promote female leadership in Latin American media. This partnership will help support a training week for female media leaders from 18 countries; a mediathon bringing together 100 women from the region to collaborate on journalism projects; and an online Spanish-language course on leadership for female Latin American journalists.


Sharing learnings from online video news projects

87 news organizations from around the world have been supported through the GNI YouTube Innovation Funding, which is part of our $25 million commitment to build a strong future for online video journalism. The case studies from the first of these projects demonstrate how these newsrooms have succeeded in developing their video strategy - including Le Monde’s experimentation with new video formats in France, TV Asahi’s development of new technology to commemorate the 2011 earthquake in Japan, and more. 


Atlantic Live Behind the Scenes

A behind-the-scenes look at The Atlantic's experimentation with episodic digital content.

Elevating and empowering the next generation of news leaders

In Paris, 85 journalism students attended a networking and training event made possible through a partnership with French non-profit La Chance. This partnership aims to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds with financial support and mentoring to help prepare them for highly competitive journalism school entrance exams.  


La Chance / Google News Initiative - Paris

Journalist students attend a training event in Paris, France. Photo copyright Patrick Danino

We partnered with Poynter to help journalists from underrepresented backgrounds attend the 2020 Media Transformation Program, which is an intensive course that helps media organizations tackle challenging problems. The training focus is specific to each participant; the program is focused on driving outcomes such as reaching new audiences, increasing content engagement, developing new revenue streams, creating infrastructure to support innovation, and more.


Supporting the future of local news

33 newsrooms from around Japan attended local news events in Tokyo, Sendai, Kobe, and Fukuoka. Throughout the week, they participated in discussions related to online engagement and creating sustainable business models.

200122_kobe.jpg

Journalists from around Japan attended a training event in Kobe last month.

In the U.K., we partnered with the Association for Online Publishing to host an event focused on building investigative and digital skills for journalism.


New technologies to help create and share news 

Steve Henn, our content strategy lead for audio news, shared more about our plans to make audio news searchable and discoverable online.


In partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network, we will be working with 12 newsrooms over the next year to develop new revenue streams based on solutions reporting. Solutions journalism helps to center stories around responses to a specific problem. These projects will explore how this reporting framework can help unlock financial opportunities for newsrooms.


That’s all for January. Stay in touch through our blog and Twitter.

The Indian journalists fighting fake news

Indian journalist Bharat Nayak knows misinformation can have dangerous consequences. He’s witnessed it too often in his home state of Jharkhand, India. 


According to Bharat, “Indian society has been gravely affected by ‘fake news’, which has  contributed to a rise in hatred and violence, and horrific incidences of lynching.” Concern about misinformation was especially pronounced around last year’s Indian general election—where more than 600 million people voted in the biggest democratic exercise in history.  


The spread of misinformation is something the Google News Initiative (GNI) India Training Network—a group of 240 senior Indian reporters and journalism educators—has been working to counteract, in their newsrooms and beyond. 


In partnership with DataLeads and Internews, the Network has provided in-depth verification training for more than 15,000 journalists and students from more than 875 news organizations, in 10 Indian languages. Using a “train-the-trainer” approach, it’s also helped support nearly all of the fact-checking initiatives launched by  Indian media over the past year. 


But Network trainers wanted to do more than train their fellow journalists - they wanted to spread the message to their communities. Bharat traveled home to Jharkhand and held workshops, not only with fellow journalists, but with community groups and students—like those in the photo above.


Today, to build on the network’s progress since 2018, we’re announcing a $1 million Google.org grant that will help Internews launch a new initiative promoting news literacy among the Indian public. The funding support is part of Google.org’s broader, $10 million commitment to media literacy, in collaboration with the Google News Initiative.  


How will it work? First, Internews will select a team of 250 journalists, fact checkers, academics and NGO workers, who will be trained on a curriculum developed by global and Indian experts, adapted to local needs and available in seven Indian languages. The local leaders will then roll out the training to new internet users in non-metro cities in India, enabling them to better navigate the internet and assess the information they find.  


“To make journalism effective again, more than the improvements in media, what is needed is media literacy,” Bharat said. “I want to make the citizens aware of how to consume media, see news and how they can play an active role in changing things for the better.”


Starting today, Internews is putting the call out for journalists, educators, community workers and others to join the new program. We have no doubt there’ll be a strong response to the new program—and we look forward to continuing to support citizens and journalists like Bharat in the fight against misinformation in India.

News Brief: December updates from the Google News Initiative

The last month of 2019 was jam-packed for the Google News Initiative. Read on for December highlights—there’s plenty to unwrap as we head into the new year.


Focusing on local news in the heartland

We hosted 32 local journalists at our Detroit, Michigan offices to kick off the relaunch of the Online News Association, the world’s largest association of online journalists, in Detroit. We also brought together 150 U.S. and Canadian news publishers and industry leaders for the first GNI Local event in Chicago, Illinois. Over two days, we focused on turning ideas into action, covering revenue sustainability and user engagement. Publishers shared best practices on audience data, inclusive storytelling, and more.

GNI Local event in Chicago

Panelists discuss how they use data to drive decision-making during the GNI Local event in Chicago.

Supporting news leaders in Brazil

We held the second GNI Summit Brazil in São Paulo with more than 120 journalists and business leaders from Brazil. The agenda focused on business models, collaborative media literacy projects and newsroom innovation. 

The second GNI Summit Brazil in São Paulo

The second GNI Summit Brazil in São Paulo

Accelerating product ideas in Asia Pacific

Over the last few months, we worked with seven publishers in Asia Pacific through our GNI Design Accelerator Program to test fresh product ideas for news. We began working with India Today to engage Indic language-speaking audiences, thought through youth engagement with Singapore Press Holdings, and brainstormed ways of empowering citizen decision making with Frontier Myanmar ahead of the 2020 Myanmar elections. Over the next few months, we’ll work with each organization to bring these ideas to life.


New technologies to support storytelling

We partnered with Cosmopolitan to launch a fun, interactive wayof watching the Netflix TV show “You”Season Two. Viewers can get behind-the-scenes info, trivia, photos, and Google Trends data as the show unfolds. This new experience creates an entertaining way for Cosmo to keep their audience engaged.  


Technology can help grow audiences in other ways. We recently partnered with Polis at the London School of Economics and Political Science to release a global report highlighting how artificial intelligence can transform journalism. We’re building on that work with new guidelines to help newsrooms approach using artificial intelligence for the first time.


Media literacy is more important than ever—and that’s a fact!

We teamed up with First Draft and the International Fact-Checking Networkto co-host the second annual Trusted Media Summit in Singapore. The weeklong event brought together 275 industry experts involved in fact-checking and fighting misinformation in Asia Pacific. We discussed new fact-checking technologies, ways of connecting trustworthy media to readers, and strategies to improve media literacy.


The Stanford Higher Education Group developed a new Civic Online Reasoning curriculum for our media literacy partner MediaWise, whose goal is to teach teens the difference between fact and fiction online. These digital literacy lessons are available to teachers for free. 


That’s a wrap for December. Stay tuned for more as we head into 2020.

How we highlight fact checks in Search and Google News

Google has highlighted fact checks in Search and News for almost three years as a way to help people make more informed judgments about the content they encounter online. Fact checks from authoritative sources are highlighted on Google Search and are labeled in Google News.

This is possible because fact-checking initiatives around the world mark up their work with ClaimReview, which allows fact-checkers to signal—and anyone online to automatically detect—that a webpage contains a fact check.

Screenshot 2019-12-17 at 12.57.46.png

A highlighted fact check as it appears in a Search result

Today we’re sharing that these fact checks appear more than 11 million times a day in Search results globally and in Google News in five countries (Brazil, France, India, U.K. and U.S.). That adds up to roughly 4 billion impressions a year. This library of over 40,000 fact checks is publicly available for anyone to consult through a dedicated search tool and for researchers to access through an open API

We’re also working with the Duke Reporters’ Lab and the International Fact-Checking Network around the adoption of structured data fields for fact checks about multimedia. (Disclosure: I was the founding director of the International Fact-Checking Network.) 

The information generated by these efforts might provide valuable context for people as they use Google products—for instance, we could surface the origin of a miscaptioned image or background on the creator of a manipulated video. In 2020, we’ll continue our work to provide users with useful context about the content they access online and offline.

Beyond highlighting fact checks on our surfaces, Google has for years supported fact-checking projects around the world. In 2020, we’ll explore new models to support the long-term sustainability of the fact-checking field. Fact-checking matters, to Google and everyone who uses our products. We’ll continue to find ways to surface and support quality journalism on our products and beyond. 

How we highlight fact checks in Search and Google News

Google has highlighted fact checks in Search and News for almost three years as a way to help people make more informed judgments about the content they encounter online. Fact checks from authoritative sources are highlighted on Google Search and are labeled in Google News.

This is possible because fact-checking initiatives around the world mark up their work with ClaimReview, which allows fact-checkers to signal—and anyone online to automatically detect—that a webpage contains a fact check.

Screenshot 2019-12-17 at 12.57.46.png

A highlighted fact check as it appears in a Search result

Today we’re sharing that these fact checks appear more than 11 million times a day in Search results globally and in Google News in five countries (Brazil, France, India, U.K. and U.S.). That adds up to roughly 4 billion impressions a year. This library of over 40,000 fact checks is publicly available for anyone to consult through a dedicated search tool and for researchers to access through an open API

We’re also working with the Duke Reporters’ Lab and the International Fact-Checking Network around the adoption of structured data fields for fact checks about multimedia. (Disclosure: I was the founding director of the International Fact-Checking Network.) 

The information generated by these efforts might provide valuable context for people as they use Google products—for instance, we could surface the origin of a miscaptioned image or background on the creator of a manipulated video. In 2020, we’ll continue our work to provide users with useful context about the content they access online and offline.

Beyond highlighting fact checks on our surfaces, Google has for years supported fact-checking projects around the world. In 2020, we’ll explore new models to support the long-term sustainability of the fact-checking field. Fact-checking matters, to Google and everyone who uses our products. We’ll continue to find ways to surface and support quality journalism on our products and beyond.