Tag Archives: Google News Initiative

Designing a new local product for French urban readers

Editor’s Note from Ludovic Blecher, Head of Google News Initiative Innovation:The GNI Innovation Challengeprogram is designed to stimulate forward-thinking ideas for the news industry. The story below by Pascal Brouet, EBRA COO and Local Pulse Project Director, is part of an innovator seriessharing inspiring stories and lessons from funded projects.

When I took on the job of leading digital transformation for the French local daily newspaper group EBRA in 2018, print circulation was falling. The challenge for our future was revealed in our data — while circulation in the countryside was holding up, there was a sizable opportunity for expansion in metropolitan areas. And so our three-pronged internal project (at that time code-named “Local Pulse”) was conceived.


Working with Google

We applied for the Google News Initiative's DNI Fund, spelling out how we wanted to: (1) win back urban readers with a new editorial offering for each of the main cities covered by EBRA brands, (2) deliver that news through a mobile platform more attractive to urbanites and (3) ensure its sustainability with a subscriber-led business model.

The starting point for the work was a survey of more than 1,200 urban readers to get a better understanding of their consumption of local information, their main topics of interest, and most pressing concerns in their day-to-day life. We used their input and feedback to define an editorial mix and value proposition with some key principles:

  • Dedicated journalists on the project
  • A limited number of useful, essential and deeper-dive articles covering city life, without an information overload
  • A brand refresh and new style guide for the design and reading experience within a mobile app

Our editorial purpose required us to define a new revenue model mainly based on subscription and native advertising, breaking with the old advertising models which could only deliver results with mass audiences. Marketing this model — without any previous experience of this type of model — continues to be one of the biggest challenges for commercial teams and was exacerbated further by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also posed a challenge for our core editorial teams. During the beta phase in spring 2021, we did not completely succeed in delivering our editorial promise and value proposition. Over two weeks, we exposed our daily editorial mix to more than 200 beta-testers and as a result of the insights, refocused the editorial team on original local news rather than lifestyle content.


Launching ASAPP

In the Fall of 2021, after two years of work with the support of the DNI Fund, Local Pulse gave birth to ASAPP — a mobile app designed for younger, urban readers — and launched in Lyon and Strasbourg. The first results of ASAPP seem positive: 2,000 registered users and high engagement with an increased number of page views per visit (about 10 page views per visit),and high engagement rates with social communities (especially on Instagram, with 150,000 page views in the first month). Over the next three months, we will continue to improve user experience and specific benefits for subscribers before launching ASAPP in more metropolitan areas.

A Chilean startup helps newsrooms grow their audiences

Editor’s note from Ludovic Blecher, Head of Google News Initiative Innovation: The GNI Innovation Challengeprogram is designed to stimulate forward-thinking ideas for the news industry. The story below by Miguel Paz, CEO and Founder of Reveniu, is part of an innovator seriessharing inspiring stories and learnings from funded projects.

“Do you believe me now?” is my favorite question. It’s the one I ask news organizations after they launch recurring payment programs for their audiences using Reveniu. When we look at the numbers from their first month using our tools, they see their revenues have doubled or sometimes even increased up to five times what they expected. These kinds of results drive our team’s work.

And it’s personal for me. As a former journalist and newsroom editor, I know how difficult it can be to develop technical solutions. When you are a small organization focused on producing good journalism, you don’t have the time or resources to develop advanced tools or platforms to drive audience revenue. I learned this firsthand when my last newsroom tried to develop a membership platform. We were discouraged by the sheer amount of work required — writing code, setting up payment gateways, fixing bugs, the list went on.

So I decided to build and launch Reveniu, a 5-minute-setup subscriptions and membership management platform for news organizations and small businesses with little to no tech experience or support. These businesses now have an easy-to-use platform with 24/7 support, including growth advice. These are the kinds of tools that would have helped me when I was in the newsroom myself.

The Google News Initiative’s support was crucial to jumpstart our work. The financial support we received from the Innovation Challenge, plus the help from the Global Partnerships team at Google Chile, gave our startup the necessary runway to conduct audience research for news organizations and overall research for product development. Since our launch, we’ve grown by an average of 20% month over month and raised over $300,000 in pre-seed money from venture capital funds and local angel investors. And our Software-as-a-Service is the one most widely used by newsrooms, newsletters and podcasts in Chile, a country with over 19 million people — and it’s having a concrete impact.

For example, Interferencia.cl now manages over 4,000 subscribers through Reveniu, representing an important part of their revenue stream. “El Semanal,” the country’s most influential business and finance newsletter, launched using Reveniu and has grown its subscription base three times beyond its original goals. The award-winning investigative reporter Alejandra Matus has funded the monthly operations for her website using Reveniu and was able to launch La Neta, which is partly funded by supporters paying through our platform. National broadcaster and podcaster Paula Molina and the podcast Relato Nacional are also growing their audience bases using our tools without having to spend any money upfront. 

At Reveniu, our goal is to help our customers build audiences and focus on delivering high-quality journalism, without worrying about cost. And as we expand to more Latin American countries in 2022, we look forward to supporting even more news creators and helping them grow their businesses.

A new literacy tool promoting inclusive LGBTQ+ language

Imagine living your truth, but not being able to tell anyone. That was my experience as a young queer person in small-town Alabama. Twenty years ago, nobody, including LGBTQ+ people, had the language we have today to talk about queerness or gender outside the binary. Coded language made it even more difficult to learn about the LGBTQ+ community, much less learn about myself. Even when I felt safe (mostly in anonymous chat rooms), I found it nearly impossible to talk about what I was going through.

It wasn’t until my college professor, Cliff Simon, shared his story that I first heard someone use terms like “gay” and “lesbian” without shame or judgement. Cliff’s story proved to me that I could be happy, and it’s the reason I came out — and ultimately, my inspiration to start VideoOut, an LGBTQ+ education and advocacy nonprofit.

As the population of openly LGBTQ+ people increases around the world, VideoOut aims to shepherd people from a place of limited exposure to a place of expanded understanding.

The left column displays letters in alphabetical order. In the middle, phrases like "Demisexual, Dip, Dysphoria, Femme" appear.

LGBTQ inclusive language glossary and definitions

I’m queer trans nonbinary. Not long ago, queer was a derogatory word — it’s what the bullies used when they weaponized their language against me. As attitudes and society evolved, so did our language and our understanding of the power words have to uplift or disparage people.

This year, VideoOut launched The LGBTQ+ Learning Project. It includes multiple phases, including a comprehensive educational resource and live community events that ladder up to our long term goal of building a museum on the National Mall. The Google News Initiative has supported us every step of the way during the first phase – the LGBTQ+ Language and Media Literacy Program.

Partnering with the GNI gave VideoOut the opportunity to work with a team of PhD linguists from the LGBTQ+ community to research the origin, evolution and current usage of 100 words and phrases that range from clinical terminology, like HRT and dysphoria, to slang terms used in niche communities like drag and ballroom. We will continue to expand the data visualization, designed by Polygraph, and employGoogle Trends technology to show the popularity of search terms over time.

This tool guides journalists through the complex world of LGBTQ+ vernacular. It shows who should be credited when using words that belong to marginalized communities. Most importantly, it arms reporters with knowledge, helping them to use LGBTQ+ terminology respectfully and accurately.

The program aims to inform people who are less familiar with the LGBTQ+ community, with the hopes of warming attitudes and fostering allyship. To that end, we’ve partnered with Men’s Health magazine to help contextualize the research and data in the program. We hope to reach a new audience and model how sharing information makes the most impact when it’s done across lines of difference.

The tool will be accessible through the Men’s Health website.

Queer and trans people are not new, but increasingly people are beginning to feel safe about living authentically. According to a recent Gallup poll, “One in six [U.S.] adults in Generation Z identifies as LGBT.” At the same time, a GLAAD report found 45% of non-LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. say they’re confused by the different number of terms to describe individuals who comprise the LGBTQ+ community.

Thanks to the efforts of queer and trans people on the forefront of the liberation movement, things are better now than they have ever been — but they are still fragile. The news media can help. Journalists can reference this tool to ensure they are using language appropriately. They can also interact with members of the community in their process. For example, if there is a story written about trans rights, VideoOut believes the writer should interview trans people, particularly ones who are active in the movement for trans rights.

The LGBTQ+ Language and Media Literacy Program is more than a glossary, though at its simplest, it can function that way. It’s a way to understand the LGBTQ+ community, and hopefully, it will transform the way journalists — and all of us — write and talk about LGBTQ+ people.

Crime reporting gets a boost in readers: A GNI Journey

Editor’s Note from Ludovic Blecher, Head of Google News Initiative Innovation: The GNI Innovation Challengeprogram is designed to stimulate forward-thinking ideas for the news industry. The story below by Amos Gelb, publisher of D.C. Witness and Baltimore Witness, is part of an innovator seriessharing inspiring stories and learnings from funded projects.

Violent crime is surging across America while cities scramble to reform their criminal justice systems. This is especially difficult because there is no single American criminal justice system. Every jurisdiction has its own practices, methods and even laws. What they all have in common, however, is a lack of reliable, up-to-date information that could drive local change by providing transparency and accountability.

Starting in 2015, D.C. Witness developed a new approach to criminal justice journalism to try to address this issue. Traditional crime reporting can give an incomplete and warped view of what’s really going on, often based on only the most salacious cases. Instead, D.C. Witness reports on every step of every homicide from act to judicial resolution. This offers a distinct perspective across the entire criminal justice landscape.

Since launch, the D.C. Witness team reported on more than 1,300 homicide cases in Washington, D.C., wrote stories and gathered data. The journalism was strong, but the website was clunky and the data a mess. The result: D.C. Witness was having little impact.

The team realized they needed a better way to manage and present the data. But this would require resources beyond the existing budget. So D.C. Witness applied for support from the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge. D.C. Witness was selected by the GNI with the goal of reengineering their systems. The result was nothing short of a reincarnation.

The GNI process, which requires drawing up detailed project milestones, forced D.C. Witness to tear everything down, reviewing how each process worked, how and why. The team realized they were getting in their own way. They’d committed the cardinal journalist sin of falling in love with their own work, losing sight of its potential value and the audience it served.

Further proof came almost immediately after the database and website were relaunched. As court activity has picked up after the peak of the pandemic, D.C. Witness’s audience has been using new functions developed to provide readers with better, customized case information.

Data and reporting work on violence reduction programs called “violence interrupters” was also effective. D.C. politicians were promoting the programs, boosting funding by $10 million, but there had been neither evaluation nor oversight. The GNI-remade platform enabled D.C. Witness to provide the first public data showing the programs were not working as claimed, dispersing rather than reducing homicides. The resulting public outrage brought critical scrutiny.

This picture shows computer screengrabs from the Baltimore Witness website. There are four different images: 1. A street scene with the heading Delivering Transparency, 2. A page called features, 3. A page called daily news and 4. A yellow button which says special features, court calendar, interactive map, timeline and data playground.

The Baltimore Witness’s website

Having realized the impact that making the data visible was having, the team launched a second website out of Baltimore, MD. There, the court that dealt with violent felonies routinely held back crucial public case information. In response to Baltimore Witness reporting, the court changed its procedures making more information accessible to the public.

The new website has also brought success in viewership with its audience growing 50% month-over-month since its launch.

While GNI helped D.C. (and now Baltimore) Witness better understand how they can reach people and serve their communities, this is just the beginning for the reporting teams. Now, D.C. Witness and Baltimore Witness can focus on maximizing their impact for everyone’s benefit.

Celebrating news partners in the Asia Pacific

One of the best parts of my role is seeing the great examples of news publishers embracing technology to grow new audiences and build sustainable business models in the Asia-Pacific region.

This week, we heard from news partners at the Google News Initiative (GNI) Global Summit, along with local events in Australia, India, Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia, on the impactful work they are doing.

Supporting a more sustainable, diverse and innovative news ecosystem

Our GNI Impact Report (released during the Summit) features stories from publishers in the Asia-Pacific, including one of our partners DataLEADS, who we worked with to provide verification training for thousands of reporters across India.

An 8 squared graphic with stats on the impact of the GNI over the last three years covering $300m+ in funding, 7000+ partners supported over 120+ countries and territories, and 450+ journalists training in 70 countries.

We also heard from Indonesia’s Warta Ekonomi on how they improved their website and user experience, and developed their monetization strategy after taking part in the GNILocal News Foundry.

Highlighting APAC leaders in innovation

The GNI Innovation Challenge program launched in the Asia Pacific three years ago with a call for applications looking at new ideas to generate reader revenue. Since then, GNI Innovation Challenges have supported more than 200 news organizations around the world — and we heard some of their stories at the Summit.

Kumparan, a media organization in Indonesia, received funding from the GNI Innovation Challenge to help create kumparanDerma, a tool that streamlines the donation process for readers to provide aid during disasters and emergencies.

In India, The News Minute used GNI funding to identify a new, sustainable revenue stream that supplemented their existing advertising model. They used data and insights to launch a membership program and about a year and a half after the project began, they hit 3,000 subscribers. This project helped TNM continue to serve their audience with independent journalism.

This picture shows The News Minute team. There are a group of people inside an office room. Some of the group are seated on the floor while others are standing behind them. There are 28 people visible. The room has white walls and the floor is a red color.

The News Minute team

In Korea, Busan Daily used funding from the Innovation Challenge to improve the way they used data to understand their audience. These are just a few of the great examples we heard on how this program has helped publishers.

Continuing our support for news with new products and tools

The GNI Global Summit featured an update on Google News Showcase, our new product experience and licensing program for news, which aims to help publishers engage more deeply with their readers and to help readers find, follow and support news organizations. Since it launched in October 2020, we’ve signed deals with more than 1,000 news publications around the world, including in India, Japan and Australia.

We also announced new features coming to Google Search that help readers find content from local publishers even more easily than before. We’re expanding a feature that we initially launched for COVID searches, so readers will soon see a carousel of local news stories when Google finds local news coverage relevant to their query. This carousel will be available globally.

There are so many great stories from publishers around the world, as well as updates on our ongoing support for the new ecosystem, in the GNI blog collection.

The News Minute turns fans into members

This picture shows The News Minute team. There are a group of people inside an office room. Some of the group are seated on the floor while others are standing behind them. There are 28 people visible. The room has white walls with posters on and the floor is a red color.

The News Minute team meet up in the office.

A note from Ludovic Blecher, Head of Google News Initiative Innovation: The GNI Innovation Challengeprogram is designed to stimulate forward-thinking ideas for the news industry. The story below by Ragamalika Karthikeyan, Editor Special Projects & Experimentsat The News Minute, is part of an innovator seriessharing inspiring stories and learnings from funded projects.

It was 2018, and the south Indian state of Kerala was reeling from the worst floods in a century. The floods hit on August 15 — India’s Independence Day. The media’s attention was focused on the holiday, and even as the crisis in Kerala became more and more critical, the floods relegated to a small feature on the national news. In a country as large and diverse as India, it’s difficult to represent everything happening on any given day. This is what motivated us to launch The News Minute (TNM) in 2014. From its beginnings, TNM has been a media platform reporting from, and about, South India, often for an out-of-country audience. It has also emerged as a strong feminist voice in Indian media, setting the standards for sensitive and on-the-ground coverage of issues related to children and women.

Turning readers into subscribers

Through support from the Google News Initiative, we at TNM have been able to identify a new, sustainable revenue stream that supplements our existing advertising revenue model. Analyzing data around user behavior helped us realize that our ardent readers were ready to pay us to support our journalism, so we decided to launch a membership program, which quickly gained members - around 50% of our members came on board within the first five months. After that, our numbers have been slowly but steadily increasing. It’s been about a year and a half since we launched the project, and we’ve hit 3,000 subscribers.

Building a platform for subscribers

During the GNI project, we were able to identify what we wanted our membership program to look like. The main components we built were the membership offerings and pricing, the legal and financial infrastructure, the technical infrastructure and the organizational capability.

There were surprises and challenges along the way: we had to adjust membership offerings based on early learnings, and processing payments was something we had to spend some time thinking about. We also wanted to make sure that the membership experience was worthwhile. Thanks to the collective wisdom of both our reader community and GNI, we were able to improve and adjust to create the best product possible.

Poised for growth

When we shift to a model where our audience is paying for our journalism, the focus automatically shifts to more community-driven, in-depth journalism that serves the public good. And this also aligns with our mission at TNM. When members of the public pay directly for independent journalism, it strengthens our ability to remain independent.

This launch taught us two really important things. One, we’re on the right track! Even though we had to make several pivots, we’re well-poised to grow the membership program, not just with the Indian diaspora, but with resident Indians as well. Two, we want to keep offering our readers other ways to support our work.

The GNI project put us on the road to a sustainable revenue model that is incredibly different from our traditional advertising-driven model. We’re looking forward to growing this new effort, and seeing how it can benefit our goal to provide our community with independent journalism.

How early-stage news publishers achieve sustainability

In December 2020, the Google News Initiative and LION Publishers launched the first-ever GNI Startups Lab in North America. By March 2021, 10 early-stage publishers had been selected to partake in an intensive, six-month accelerator program, during which they received coaching and financial support to help their businesses become more sustainable.

Today, we’re sharing a comprehensive report on this cohort of the GNI Startups Lab which documents everything that we learned during our time together, including the new strategies that digital publishers are using to build their businesses and connect with their communities.

Over the course of the Lab, it became clear that sustainability for independent news businesses lies at the nexus of financial health, journalistic impact and operational resilience. Many of the participants made terrific strides in making their businesses more resilient for the long-term:

  • Amy Duncan is the founder and publisher of the Indianola Independent Advocate (IAA) in Central Iowa. A former Des Moines Register executive, Amy focused on improving her bandwidth as a founder, which meant learning how to develop operational workflows so that she can expand her team. Taking the advice of her dedicated Startups Lab coach, Amy added two part-time employees to IAA’s payroll. Expanding her team freed up more of Amy’s time to make crucial improvements to IAA’s digital advertising system and to explore adding programmatic ads to the website. “Before this program I didn't realize, or accept, how much time I need to be spending on the business side. We'd been getting by on running subscription and revenue efforts when I felt like it, but I now know that I need to spend a large percentage of my time focused squarely on the business side.”
  • Kara Meyberg Guzman has always been passionate about local news, even selling her car to help launch Santa Cruz Local in 2019. But it was not until recently that Kara realized the need to measure success beyond revenue and membership growth. Each team member now tracks their mental and emotional health and discusses the results at a weekly meeting. Measuring staff health led Santa Cruz Local to redistribute work among their team members and to implement a company retirement plan for full-time employees. “Through the GNI Startups Lab, I’ve learned that operational resilience — an ability for our team to work together to achieve shared goals, without burnout — is equally important,” Kara said. The Lab also helped Santa Cruz Local cultivate an experimentation mindset across all aspects of the organization, including implementing quarterly OKRs. “We learned how to divide tasks, build staff capacity, set measurable goals, track our progress, make room for small experiments, and say no to things that distract us from our purpose. Our team is so much stronger than we were a year ago.”
  • Wausau Pilot & Review founder Shereen Siewert was concerned about the lack of news produced for and consumed by the large Hmong community in Wausau, Wisconsin. With support from her coach, Shereen developed an outreach strategy to help Wausau’s journalists to connect with the local Hmong community, including distributing surveys and in-person booths at local community events. Wausau grew their monthly non-English speaking audience by more than 20% during the Lab, and is building deeper connections with this historically underserved community. “Participating in the GNI Startups Lab was a game-changer for us. We left the program feeling much more confident about our sustainability and learned so much from our colleagues along the way.”
This is a photographic image of 18 different faces of the 10 founding teams who took part in the Google News Initiative Startups Lab. The images are in color and there are 13 women and 5 men.

GNI Startups Lab's founder teams

We are grateful to the 10 participating publishers of the North American GNI Startups Lab, both for their deep engagement with the program and for so generously sharing their learnings with the wider digital news ecosystem. This body of knowledge is already helping to power ongoing GNI Startups Labs in Europe, Hispanoamérica and India, and we look forward to announcing additional installments of the program in 2022.

In addition to the Lab Report, today we’re also sharing the results from the GNI’s inaugural GNI Startups Pitchfest, in which graduates from the North American cohorts of our Startups Lab and Boot Camp were invited to compete for additional funding. Nine Startups pitched a new experiment or initiative that could make their businesses more sustainable to a jury comprised of GNI and industry leadership. Congratulations to our winners:

  • Annelise Pierce, Shasta Scout: Launching an innovative community engagement project to build trust, deepen coverage, and broaden readership
  • Travers Johnson, Queerency: Creating a video ambassador program for content creators to produce smart, engaging, and viral-focused videos
  • Megan Raposa, Sioux Falls Simplified: Developing a “Welcome Guide” to introduce new readers to the publication along with helpful content about local government, schools, resources and culture.

The media platform helping Indonesians donate for good

Editor’s note from Ludovic Blecher, Head of Google News Initiative Innovation: The GNI Innovation Challengeprogram is designed to stimulate forward-thinking ideas for the news industry. The story below by Andrias Ekoyuono, Chief of Corporate Strategy at kumparan, is part of an innovator seriessharing inspiring stories and lessons from funded projects.

As an avid news reader, I would read stories in the media every day about social problems and natural disasters, which made me want to help by donating to those in need. However, it was difficult to find a way to donate because I had to search for other websites that could channel the funds. I would also have to ensure that the donation was channeled by a credible party. My main takeaway became this: the experience of giving donations after reading the news should be easier.

Enter kumparan, one of the most widely respected online media organizations in Indonesia. Launched in 2017, it consists of 130 journalists and a media network across 34 provinces which helps media startups grow. It serves as a key resource, giving local media the opportunity to disseminate information and voice concerns at the forefront of Indonesia’s national consciousness. Its establishment has helped the general public to understand and empathize with the problems facing their neighbors every day.

In 2020, kumparan received funding from the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge to help create kumparanDerma, a tool that shortens and streamlines the donation process to provide aid during disasters and emergencies.

The platform allows news consumers to have direct social impact, as they can read articles and give to causes that matter to them in a one-step process through available payment options. There have been ten donation campaigns across Indonesia, including in Riau, East Nusa Tenggara, North Sulawesi, Kalimantan, East Java, and West Java, resulting in over 1,400 transactions with a total readership of roughly 600,000 article views.

These campaigns have raised money for a host of different causes, including support for people whose homes had been destroyed by an earthquake and funding for a child in a remote area who needed a mobile phone to access online school classes during the pandemic.

This is a photograph of the Chief of Corporate Strategy at kumparan, called Andrias Ekoyuono. He is standing up and looking directly at the camera wearing a white T-shirt with the kumparan logo across the chest in blue with orange highlights.

Andrias Ekoyuono, Chief of Corporate Strategy at kumparan

One of the fundraising campaigns was “Blurred Portrait of Sikka Children, Struggling with Pain Amid Limitations.” Two children in Sikka (East Nusa Tenggara) had been suffering from malnutrition and hydrocephalus for years. Both had received treatment from local health facilities in the past, but were unable to receive treatment for a period of five months because of the cost of transportation to obtain their medicines. As a result, kumparanDerma opened donations to support these children’s daily needs. While one of the boys sadly died, the money raised was eventually enough to help the surviving child and three others in similar circumstances.

kumparanDerma — with GNI’s support — has helped facilitate change through news readers’ donations, ensuring their generosity and compassion reach people across Indonesia. As we continue to expand kumparanDerma, we hope that building out donation processes through news platforms is just the beginning of the social impact we can make together.

These 25 publishers want to know their communities

We can’t write about our communities without understanding them and being part of them. We don’t want to just parachute ourselves in and stick the microphone under their mouths, we really want to come at this as a way to serve them. Christelle Saint-Julien, journalist at La Converse

The third North America Innovation Challenge has selected 25 projects out of 190 from Canada and the U.S. to receive a share of more than $3.2 million USD to help build their ideas that address the need for research in local news.

This latest Challenge, part of a program designed to stimulate forward-thinking ideas focused on the news industry, was launched in June to support news innovators looking to research how they could better understand the local communities they serve. The selection process involves a rigorous review, a round of interviews and a final jury selection effort.

Among the successful applicants are:

  • Documented, a non-profit newsroom from the Brooklyn Community Foundation, which provides local news for and about New York City’s 3.1 million immigrants. They will use research to define, test and pilot a product and messaging strategy to expand their reach to Chinese and Caribbean immigrant communities.
  • Metroland, the community news media branch of Canadian national publisher Torstar brings Metroland Indigenous: Truth Through Storytelling — a dedicated effort to address a deficiency in news coverage of and for Indigenous peoples in Ontario.
  • A group of nonprofit and for-profit organizations based in Georgia coordinated by the women-led local publisher The Current is building a framework for organizers to collaborate on online local news delivery in the interest of better serving their community.
  • Minnesota-based news startup Sahan Journal is collaborating with three community media outlets to launch Citizen Lab, a series of public editorial meetings to check in with the communities they collectively serve and produce news in Somali, Hmong and Spanish.
  • La Converse in Quebec will be testing new approaches in order to broaden their French language offering in terms of stories and formats — for example, they’re testing things like text-based news service and audio formats.
  • Wick Communications, a family-owned local news company, will partner with ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to research new products and strategies to facilitate healthy online discourse in small Arizonan communities.

Read the full list of the successful recipients at newsinitiative.withgoogle.com. We extend our sincere thanks to everyone who took the time to apply .

Trends and learnings

Today’s North American winners brings our total of Innovation Challenges to nine running across 93 countries over the past three years. The program initially launched in Asia Pacific with a call for applications looking at new ideas to generate reader revenue. Across all these challenges, we’ve received over 2,500 project applications, creating 227 projects covering Latin America, the Middle East, Turkey and Africa and North America and resulting in over $30 million USD in funding. While there’s been much to learn along the way, the selected news organizations have reported results beyond expectations, with 75% of projects bringing a measurable increase in audience growth and engagement and more than 50% of the recipients already seeing a measurable increase in monetization.

A group of people standing against a brick wall, all looking into the camera and smiling.

The team from successful Innovation Challenge recipient Borderless Magazine from Illinois, which serves a diverse audience of people mostly under 40 years of age. They will be experimenting with new distribution and engagement strategies for their Spanish and English audiences.

Over 50% (1,301) of the applications we received across all Innovation Challenges were focused on audience engagement and monetization. Many North American local or regional publishers recognized the need for direct reader revenue, and over time their focus has shifted to optimization and retaining subscribers .

North American online-only publishers, and local or regional publishers from other areas such as Africa, Asia and Latin America, are still focused on scale, but they are also beginning to experiment with reader revenue and understand the need for improved engagement.

We’re also seeing a need for cultural change, in newsrooms and in coverage, becoming an area of focus for these Innovation Challenges. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) have been necessary elements for applicants’ projects since early 2020. As a result it drove 1,000 applications, 223 interviews and over $13 million in funding. Over 60% of applicants reported that DEI was of strong importance to their organization.

You can read more about the successful recipients around the globe. The Innovation Challenges program will continue in 2022, with application dates to be announced on the Keyword blog and through the GNI Newsletter.

And over the next week, we’ll be highlighting a series of stories from news innovators who have launched projects in France, Indonesia, India, the U.S. and Chile — stay tuned to this space for more.