Google has announced the second Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge in Africa, the Middle East, and Turkey with an open call for projects that increase reader engagement and explore new business models for media.
The Google News Initiative, GNI, works with the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age.
Organisations that can apply include established publishers, online-only players, news startups, publisher consortia and local industry associations.
“The selected projects will be funded up to $150 000, and up to 70 per cent of the total project cost,” says Ludovic Blecher, Head of Innovation, GNI.
“Funding is not available for editorial projects, but should instead be focused on reader engagement and exploring new business models. Google does not take any equity or IP in any projects or submissions. We are looking forward to seeing new ideas, projects and big bets come out of the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, a region rich with talent, potential and opportunity!”
The first GNI Innovation Challenge saw 21 projects in 13 countries receive funding last year.
Kenyan Africa Uncensored was awarded funding to provide members of the public drawn from informal settlements with a channel to directly air issues that affect them. In South Africa, Daily Maverick developed a “relevancy engine” for small and medium publishers to help them aggregate better reader insights to increase relevancy and increase subscriptions.
Ringier Africa Digital Publishing in Nigeria received funding to increase personalisation across its platform using a blend of prediction, recommendation and local information pages to increase user engagement.
Other awardees were from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Rwanda, Turkey, and the UAE.