Google has announced 34 media platforms as winners of the third Google News Initiative (GNI) Innovation (GNI) Challenge. These recipients are from Africa, the Middle East, Israel, and Turkey, and were chosen for their mission to promote diversity, equality, and inclusion in the journalism industry.
The 2022 list included 21 recipients from ten African countries (Uganda-1, South Africa-5, Nigeria-5, Niger-1, Morocco-1, Kenya-2, Egypt-2, Congo-2, Burundi-1, Burkina Faso-1). These recipients’ projects were chosen from hundreds of applications submitted from 42 countries.
The final selection was made based on a set of criteria, which included innovation, impact on the news ecosystem, diversity, equity, inclusion, inspiration, and feasibility.
With GNI, Traditional publishers, news start-ups and associations that aim to build innovative digital media projects have a rare opportunity to pitch their ideas and project plans. Selected projects will be awarded $150,000 and funding for up to 70 per cent of the total project cost.
This year, we sought to broaden our criteria to include digital innovation initiatives that promote goals like reader engagement, new reader income, subscriptions, disinformation among other things Following a thorough assessment, a round of interviews, and a final jury selection, 34 projects from 17 countries were chosen to receive $3.2 million in funding.
Ludovich Blecher, Head of Innovation, Google News Initiative.
About the GNI Challenge
Since its inception in 2018, the GNI Innovation Challenge has funded over 200 projects in 47 countries. The challenge is part of Google’s $300 million commitment to helping journalism thrive especially in the digital age.
When compared to previous GNI innovation challenges in the region, this year’s challenge saw a 118 per cent increase in applications from news organisations engaged in fact-checking activities. Also, proposed projects with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) ideas grew significantly. This reflects the news ecosystem’s shift toward cutting-edge new technologies and data.
The GNI Innovation Challenge seeks to empower news organisations worldwide that are more focused on new ideas in the online journalism space. The goal of this challenge is to help these organisations find new paths to sustainability while also gaining a better understanding of their community.
Selected news organisations in Africa (in alphabetical order)
|Association Des Blogueurs Du Burkina
OSH for Information Technology and Artificial Intelligence Research
|Nation Media Group PLC
|Morocco World News
|African Development University
Dubawa, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development
Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ)
Quote This Woman+
Media Hack Collective
Open Cities Lab
Code for Africa (CfA)
The first Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge saw 21 projects in 13 countries receive funding in 2020. Awardees were from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Turkey, and the UAE.
The Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge has been ongoing in the region since 2019, with 43 proposals selected from 18 countries in the first two rounds.
The winners of the Innovation Challenges in 2019 and 2021 responded to a call for ideas that would boost reader engagement and/or explore new business models. Digital membership systems and Arabic language search capabilities were among the suggestions.
Overall, the benefit of the innovative challenge is aplenty as this will further boost the numbers of skilled and qualified journalists on the continent.