The events of this past year have proven that providing access to diverse, high-quality news sources is more important than ever. Whether it’s information about COVID-19, the latest environmental story or reporting on governments around the world, people are looking for the news that affects their lives.
Our investment of $1 billion over the next three years towards news partnerships and for Google News Showcase helps support publications to produce, distribute and explain essential information to users in new ways. News Showcase panels give publishers the ability to tell important news stories together with context and links to additional stories. Panels also feature recognizable branding so users can easily find and identify trusted news organizations.
Since we announced Google News Showcase last year, we’ve signed agreements with nearly 450 publications across a dozen countries, the majority of which are local and regional. Our news partners include Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Libération in France, El Cronista and La Gaceta in Argentina, TAG24 and Sächsische Zeitung in Germany, and Jornal do Commercio, a regional newspaper from Pernambuco in Brazil.
Today we’re announcing a new global deal with Reuters for News Showcase. Their in-depth coverage from 2,500 journalists around the world is indispensable and another example of the quality news content News Showcase is bringing to users.
These new partners are in addition to the existing News Showcase publications that are live in Brazil and Germany, and have already created tens of thousands of panels which have been seen by millions of users across Google News and Discover on Android and iOS.
Local news organizations have always been critical in keeping people informed, and that is more true now than ever before amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With News Showcase, we want to ensure that local news publishers play a strong role in our product. These outlets, with their deep coverage of local events, schools, crime and government, are a cornerstone of well-informed and functioning communities. Ensuring users around the world have access to high-quality local news is of tremendous importance, and it’s one of the areas where we’re heavily investing for 2021.
While access to quality content is essential, so too is ensuring that the news industry can develop sustainable business models. That’s why we’re working closely with a number of News Showcase partners to pay to provide users free access to select paywalled stories. This feature will give users the opportunity to get to know content they might not otherwise have access to. In addition, it will enable publishers to develop their own relationships with users and incentivize them to become a subscriber.
We’ve worked directly with our news partners to get feedback on this feature so that it integrates easily into their paywalls, ensuring that it works for both them and their users. “Working with Google has been great for our entire team, from the newsroom to our development team, and we believe that we will see exciting results with the new ability to show our users additional access to paywalled content,” says Cândido Henrique Silva, executive editor of O TEMPO, a national news outlet in Brazil.
The extended access feature will be live in the News Showcase product in the next couple of months.
2021 will be a year of major investment in News Showcase as we expand to other markets and build more features, creating a great news experience for users around the globe. We are committed to doing this alongside news publishers as we play our part in developing a better future for quality journalism.
2020 was a year no one expected, and journalists all over the world responded to upheaval by keeping their communities informed. As we closed out the year, Latin American newsrooms demonstrated how technology can make journalism more accessible, and we supported new programs to sustain local and independent journalism.
Digitizing 80 years of history
Organización Editorial Mexicana (OEM) is the largest Mexican print media company and the largest newspaper company in Latin America. Using Google Cloud’s AI technology, OEM was able to digitize their newspaper and photo archive and create new sources of reader revenue. This process also allowed employees, the news agency, subscribers to the newspaper and researchers to digitally access the cultural heritage of their newspaper and its more than 80 years of documenting history. Included in this archive were several local newspapers, which allow broader access to the more rural and provincial history of Mexico, as well as a record of global events from a Mexican perspective.
Providing guidance for newsroom mergers through the Public Media Mergers Project
In December, our Public Media Mergers Project concluded its year-long research into mergers between public media groups and independent digital news sites – a rising trend across the country. The project was led by the Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and supported by a partnership between the Public Media Venture Group and the Google News Initiative. We’ve published the Public Media Mergers Playbook to guide public media stations and independent local digital newsrooms through the process of considering and then managing a newsroom merger. We hope this asset encourages more small digital newsrooms and public media stations to explore the possibilities of joining forces to better serve their communities. For more insights on the research, check out Dr. Elizabeth Hansen’s recap of the project, and read the playbook today.
Bringing Latin American journalists together for GNI Summit Hispanoamérica 2020
We hosted the first regional GNI Summitfor Spanish-Speaking Latin America, bringing together over 550 participants from more than 300 newsrooms and 18 countries. Newsrooms from across the region discussed their work with the GNI to build sustainable business models and combat other challenges facing the news industry.
Supporting NewsMatch, a resource for independent journalism
The Google News Initiative contributed $750,000 to NewsMatch, a program which brings together individual donors, foundations and corporate philanthropists to build fundraising capabilities and inspire giving to members of the Institute for Nonprofit News, a growing network of independent newsrooms that are nonprofit, nonpartisan and dedicated to public service. As part of its partnership, the GNI will provide added support to the participating 266 newsrooms: every organization that raises $11,500 from its audience will receive an equal matching gift from NewsMatch and a $2,500 “GNI Bonus” totaling $14,000. GNI funding will also give an award to newsrooms that bring on 100 first-time donors during the campaign cycle, from November 1 to December 31. As part of the GNI partnership with NewsMatch, all participating newsrooms will receive coaching and personalized support across GNI tools and training, including News Consumer Insights and the GNI Digital Growth Program.
Twenty-five journalists who care deeply about the future of local news
Twenty-five journalists from around the Americas will spend two months focusing on product thinking in the newsroom through a program with News Catalyst and Newmark J-School. The program is designed to teach journalists in small to midsize local news organizations to build, launch and grow news products that serve audiences’ needs.
The uncertainty and developing nature of the coronavirus pandemic continues to generate related misinformation. Fact-checkers have been hard at work debunking falsehoods online, with nearly 10,000 fact checks about the pandemic currently showing up across our products.
The global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is exacerbating a perennial problem of misinformation about immunization. To support additional debunking efforts, the Google News Initiative is launching a COVID-19 Vaccine Counter-Misinformation Open Fund worth up to $3 million.
While the COVID-19 infodemic has been global in nature, misinformation has also been used to target specific populations. Some of the available research also suggests that the audiences coming across misinformation and those seeking fact checks don’t necessarily overlap.
For this reason, the Open Fund is accepting applications from projects that aim to broaden the audience of fact checks, particularly with those who may be disproportionately affected by misinformation in mind.
The fund is global and open to news organizations of every size that have a proven track record in fact-checking and debunking activities, or partner with an organization with such recognition.
We will prioritize collaborative projects with an interdisciplinary team and clear ways to measure success. For example, eligible applications might include a partnership between an established fact-checking project and a media outlet with deep roots in a specific community, or a collaborative technology platform for journalists and doctors to jointly source misinformation and publish fact checks.
A global team of Googlers will review applications. The jury that will choose grantees is composed by the following:
Theresa Amobi, Senior Lecturer, University of Lagos
Ludovic Blecher, Head of Innovation, Google News Initiative
Renee DiResta, Technical Research Manager, Stanford Internet Observer
Susannah Eliott, CEO, Australian Science Media Centre
Gagandeep Kang, Head of the Wellcome Trust Research Laboratory, Christian Medical College
Alexios Mantzarlis, News and Information Credibility Lead, Google
Syed Nazakat, Founder & CEO, Data Leads
Ifeoma Ozoma, Founder and Principal, Earthseed
Baybars Örsek, Director, International Fact-Checking Network
Andy Pattison, manager of digital solutions, World Health Organization
Angela Pimenta, Director of Operations, Projor
Amy Pisani, Executive Director, Vaccinate Your Family
Yamil Velez, Associate Professor of Political Science, Columbia University
Brian Yau, Promotion & Engagement Lead, Vaccine Safety Net at WHO
The Open Fund builds on support the GNI has provided to news efforts fighting pandemic misinformation in April and December of last year. We expect that selected projects will benefit from research the GNI is supporting into the formats, headlines and sources that are most effective in correcting COVID-19 vaccine misinformation.
Finally, we continue to make high quality, authoritative information about vaccines available in our products. We are continuing to expand the number of countries with information panels on authorized vaccines in Google Search, and we continue to surface fact checks across Google by using ClaimReview. We expanded the features in which users come across fact checks in 2020—in the COVID-19 Google News topic in the U.S., on Google News on mobile in Brazil and in Google Images globally.
Please visit the Open Fund’s website to read more about eligibility criteria and find out how to apply.
Over the past nine months, we’ve been working with LION Publishers and UNC’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media to study the choices news startups face in establishing and growing their companies. Through our research with nearly 300 digital journalism entrepreneurs in North America, we’ve learned that many wrestle with the same questions, but lack reliable support systems to overcome these obstacles.
Even when emerging outlets are successful in building a quality product and community of readers, they often face a stumbling block when it comes to monetizing their journalism. In fact, just one in five of the news founders we surveyed consider their company to be financially sustainable. And for many digital news startups, financial footing remains precarious for years, as they delay long-term planning and view survival as success.
With this in mind, the Google News Initiative is launching a global program to help guide independent entrepreneurs as they build digital news startups. Today we’re opening applications for the GNI Startups Lab in North America, a six-month experience that will provide a group of news founders with coaching and capital to evolve their news products and accelerate their companies on the path to sustainability.
This program builds on our GNI Startups Lab in Brazil, which is currently contributing to the growth of 10 early stage digital news businesses through training, mentorship and peer learning. Next year, we will introduce global extensions of the program available to news entrepreneurs in Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Developed in partnership with LION, the GNI Startups Lab in North America will address the common questions news startups navigate when evolving their companies, as well as each participant’s individual path to growth. Founders will develop a deeper understanding of their audience, create short- and long-term strategy and budget plans, evolve team structures and strengthen business models, with the goal of building loyal readers and recurring revenue over time.
The lab will accept up to 12 news entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Canada, who have been producing original journalism for at least six months and want guidance on how to further develop their recently launched news product. Applicants should be focused on producing journalism for a geographically based community, or covering a single topic area. We are especially interested in entrepreneurs who have identified a need to better serve or elevate voices in underrepresented communities.
During the application process, news founders will be asked to outline the challenges they face, and what they believe is required in order for their company to become sustainable. This could range from establishing a new revenue stream, such as a membership model, to implementing a technology solution, like a content management system, to increase newsroom efficiency. Throughout the program, participants will receive coaching and financial support to make progress toward their specific goal and start on a path to long-term growth.
The GNI Startups Lab follows our eight-week bootcamp with LION, which recently guided 24 news entrepreneurs as they turned their starting idea into a publicly available news product, or evolved their existing offering. From an outlet seeking to provide deep investigative reporting on the criminal justice system, to a publication looking to unearth the inequities in the news industry itself, these projects shine a light on the range of possibilities for founders to meet the information needs of readers in new ways.
News entrepreneurs, who care deeply about serving their communities, play an important role in shaping the future of digital journalism. Alongside our global partners, we aim to share what is learned in the form of playbooks, tools and webinars, so those lessons can serve as a road map for future news founders to build sustainable businesses.
If you’re a news founder interested in the GNI Startups Lab in North America, please apply via the application form by January 21, 2021.
In India, a respected magazine is working out how to better serve Hindi-speaking readers. In Indonesia, a media group is creating new career development opportunities for young newsroom leaders. In Singapore, a publisher is consolidating their digital and non-digital news offerings to appeal to younger audiences.
These diverse news organizations have one thing in common: they’re exploring new ways to get news and information to their communities, serve customers and become stronger businesses. And through the Google News Initiative’s Design Accelerator, we’re privileged to have had the opportunity to help them along the way.
An accelerator program is a series of workshops to help everyone at an organization think about business problems differently, share ideas and try new things, using the principles of design thinking. Together with our partners at Splice and Echos, GNI hosted accelerators with nine publishers from across Asia Pacific, including READr, a Taiwanese media organization founded in 2018 to help fight disinformation.
READr has created a community of readers who contribute data for its reporting. We asked Hsin-Chan Chien, Chief Technology Officer of Mirror Media Inc, which owns READr, to tell us a bit more about how it works.
Creating a reliable platform for citizen journalism is a big undertaking. Why was it so important for READr?
An open newsroom is a new concept. In the past, traditional newsrooms were exclusive places, and wouldn’t make their materials public. However, the internet has given readers access to more information than ever before. So we decided to change our mindset and invite readers in.
We want readers to be able to get to know the data and materials behind the news, and have a dialogue around what actually makes news—for example, by making readers aware of upcoming topics that we will write stories about, and enabling them to contribute. We hope this will allow them to build a more personal and trusting relationship with the media.
Can you tell us about your experience going through the program?
We believe in the power of openness, transparency and crowdsourcing, especially after witnessing how Taiwan’s tech community has influenced society on issues like politics, the environment and open data. When we entered the GNI Design Accelerator Program, our first priority was to ask ourselves how to apply these principles to news platforms—which have suffered from the impact of fake news and the commercial pressure to chase traffic. Through the program, we were able to understand our readers and how they experience the news, and ultimately to develop reader-centric ways of writing news—such as inviting readers to discuss their concerns on a story like the introduction of electronic IDs in Taiwan, before the journalist does further research and interviews.
What advice would you give to an organization wanting to do something similar?
News readers nowadays are very different from what we were used to in the past. Today, we need to take their opinions on board and make changes in the way we deliver information. The news media of the future should serve readers and help them sort out the topics they care about, rather than tell readers what the publication thinks they should know.
Today we are announcing an important list of projects selected for the second round of the Google News Initiative’s North American Innovation Challenge. The challenges are meant to encourage a spirit of experimenting, and quite simply, trying new things. It is especially important this year to tackle innovative ideas, and the 33 projects we’re funding look at diversity, equity and inclusion through many different lenses, all focused around the communities they serve.
The Innovation Challenge received 215 applications from the US and Canada, and will fund 33 projects totaling $5.9 million.
We selected Ryerson University in Canada for JeRI: The Journalism Representation Index, an AI-powered tool that scores the institutional power of sources cited in news stories. “In this time of great change it’s really important as journalists that we ensure the stories we report on reflect a diversity of voices,” says Asmaa Malik, Associate professor at Ryerson University. “With JERI our hope is that we can rebuild trust with readers and offer them transparency into the process.”
Our team selected The Houston Defender for their efforts in business transformation. Sonny Messiah-Jiles, the Defender’s CEO, says the Innovation Challenge “opens the doors of opportunity for us to combat undercapitalization, limited access to new technology and resources and expand our training of our staff. We’re striving to make sure we arrive where our audience wants us to be.”
The Educational Video Center in New York pitched an idea to develop the infrastructure to distribute and monetize youth-produced documentary films from EVC’s digitized archive of over 200 short films. “Youth voices are underrepresented in mainstream media and important news stories are not being told,” says Ambreen Quresh, the group’s executive director. “To address this EVC will create the first of its kind B2B video licensing platform for mainstream media to acquire youth-produced documentary shorts and clips.”
Other recipients include Vox Media, which is creating a comprehensive, inclusive open-sourced style guide and editing resources designed to recognize bias in storytelling. The Local Media Foundation is creating Word in Black, a national news collaborative that is powered by 10 of the leading Black publishers. Save the Black Press, a project from Black Voice News in California, will create a data access portal, content discovery platform and resource support model for generating revenue and innovating content at black news organizations.
Industry leaders joined Google in selecting winners. “As one of four external participants on the jury, I appreciated the emphasis on local media outlets that can easily be overlooked nationally but who are vital in serving local communities and truly know the landscape and are invested in solutions,” says Donna Ladd, editor and co-founder of the Mississippi Free Press andJackson Free Press.
You can read the full list of the successful recipients on our website. We extend our sincerest thanks to everyone who took the time to apply to this challenge.
Some people might think of the nonprofit news field as a slow-moving, foundation-funded industry. While this picture might have held up a decade ago, today nonprofit newsrooms are bucking the typical reliance on grants and donations and growing into strategically funded enterprises—fueled by dollars from individual donors and local and national businesses.
Take, for example, statewide nonprofit news outlets like the Texas Tribune and NJ Spotlight, which in 2019grew earned revenue to 37 percent and 33 percent of their overall business, respectively. We’ve seen that this growth is consistent across smaller metro news organizations, too.
Indeed, according to the 2020 Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) Index, now more than 40 percent of nonprofit newsrooms have created four or more different revenue streams to fund their high-quality, nonpartisan journalism. Out of these revenue streams, INN identified earned revenue, such as advertising, event sponsorship and sponsored content, as a major area for development across the nonprofit news field.
That growth opportunity brought the Google News Initiative and INN together to analyze how nonprofit newsrooms can build earned revenue models and identify best practices to help others succeed. Today, we’re thrilled to share a new contribution to the field: the Nonprofit News Guide to Earned Revenue. This guide combines lessons learned from several nonprofit news organizations, and was designed to be used and reused by leaders and staff to grow and retain revenue from earned sources.
The GNI-INN partnership comes as dramatic revenue losses sweep across the journalism industry, with tens of thousands of jobs cut just since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The decline in advertising is a big part of that picture. From April 2019 to April 2020, Pew Research Center reported a 42 percent revenue loss in advertising for newspapers, a revenue stream that largely fuels traditional media organizations.
In the same time period, however, INN gained about 65 nonprofit newsrooms as members and existing members profiled by our research became more financially sustainable.
So how can nonprofit newsrooms continue to increase earned revenue during this industry decline? Here are the guide’s top takeaways to act on now:
Sell solutions. Identify needs and offer solutions for partners. News outlets that had success with earned revenue figured out how to align their financial goals with the interests of their community members, including local business owners. For example, the San Antonio Report created a business membership that offers an opportunity for companies to underwrite relevant content and receive recognition without placing advertisements.
View local businesses as partners and allies. Relationships with sponsors and prospects aren’t transactional. Newsrooms should foster a connection with them. Just as nonprofit journalism is service-oriented, so are these partnerships. Take for example Madison365, which created a program promoting its mission of producing coverage specifically for communities of color to find potential sponsors who support that goal.
Get the tech stack right. Even the best people and strategies can fall short with a weak foundation. In the guide, we review the basic tools newsrooms should consider, such as content management systems, ad servers and virtual event technology, and discuss how these systems should work together in a way where data collected now can be cleanly imported into a more advanced tech stack down the road.
Develop (and improve!) an efficient work flow. Nonprofit news organizations are often small and scrappy—they work smarter, not harder. For example, we look at NJ Spotlight’s process for deciding which sales to chase, and which to let go. Here’s how it works: Log all interactions with clients and categorize each prospect with either a “90” (likely to convert, so drop everything to make this sale), 50 (possible to convert, spend some time here), or 10 (remember this contact, but move on for now).
INN is putting this guide’s best practices to work as the core curriculum of the GNI Sponsorship Lab. Launched in October, the six-month program is providing coaching to support a diverse group of eight nonprofit publishers as they develop and improve their earned revenue streams over time.
We hope this guide helps nonprofit newsrooms make decisions, prioritize staff time and resources and chart ambitious new business plans in the year ahead. Above all, newsrooms can use this guide to identify the growth opportunity rooted in earned revenue and take action today.
As the year draws to a close, we’re spending the last few months of 2020 connecting with the global news community through virtual events. We’re also sharing lessons from publishers which have grown their digital business through GNI programs, and laying the groundwork for more growth in the new year. Keep reading for November highlights.
Researching new business models in Australia through Project Kookaburra
In November we partnered with the Walkley Foundation in Australia to launch Project Kookaburra, a new business model research project. We released five webinars to help regional publishers and journalists grow their news businesses. Led by former BuzzFeed Australia General Manager Simon Crerar and Regional and Small Publisher Innovation Fund Chair Megan Brownlow, each webinar focused on a different business model, such as using audience insights to develop content. We also launched a training module and case studies for the Sunraysia Daily, Fassifern Guardian, Narrandera Argus, Forty South and York Peninsula Country Times.
Building media literacy skills in Australia and New Zealand
More than 130 journalists and students from Australia and New Zealand competed in teams over 11 weeks for the inaugural GNI/Walkleys Verification Challenge, which concluded in November. We used game design and social media to build news community engagement and media literacy skills during lockdown. To help them in the challenge, players had access to a series of short YouTube tutorials presented by AU/NZ GNI Teaching Fellow Miguel D’Souza.
News Impact Summit
In November, we ran the third and last News Impact Summit of 2020 in partnership with the European Journalism Centre (EJC). For the first time in its six-year history, the summits moved online, but this allowed us to reach an even larger audience. The three summits on Audience, Audio & Voice and Data Journalism brought together more than 2000 international and local media professionals and offered an opportunity to meet, network, learn and get inspired by others. Seventy-nine speakers conducted more than 50 sessions; you’ll soon be able to view recordings on EJC’s YouTube channel with subtitles in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
Google for Indonesia and Think Media in Malaysia
At our fifth annual Google for Indonesia event, featuring opening remarks from Indonesian president Joko Widodo, we discussed how we’re supporting news organizations locally and how we help fight disinformation during times of crisis. We also organized the Think media event in Malaysia, where local publishers shared their experiences about engaging customers and using data to grow their businesses.
Misinformation in Medicine Summit
As part of the Asia Pacific Trusted Media Summit, we worked with DataLEADS to host the Misinformation in Medicine Summit. Bringing together more than 600 journalists, doctors, technologists and policymakers from 58 countries, the event covered the global response to COVID-19-related misinformation, initiatives from social media platforms and fact-checkers, how journalists have reported on the coronavirus pandemic across Asia and potential solutions for curbing the spread of misinformation and increasing the reach of fact-checked information.
GNI Digital Growth Program expands globally
We expanded the GNI Digital Growth Program to help 80 Nigerian news publishers to grow their digital business. Through two weeks of interactive, online workshops, we covered topics like reader revenue, advertising strategy and audience development
Twenty-three publishers have been selected for the second iteration of Table Stakes Europe, a 12-month program run in collaboration with WAN-IFRA as part of the GNI Digital Growth Program in Europe. Over the next year, participating publishers will work on making digital business models more sustainable.
GNI Subcriptions Labs help publishers grow reader revenue
GNI Subscriptions Labs are designed to help publishers strengthen their digital subscriptions capabilities and grow their reader revenue.
A new GNI Subscriptions Lab, launched in partnership with the Local Media Association and WAN-IFRA, will involve 13 news publishers in North and Latin America. The lab will help participants develop sustainable consumer revenue strategies guided by the curriculum and best practices from the Digital Growth Program.
The first European Subscriptions Lab recently concluded with eight participating publishers. The lab was developed in partnership with FT Strategies and the International News Media Association (INMA), and results are publicly availablethrough a report that details best practices for growing digital subscriptions.
If it feels hard to keep up with the news these days, you’re not alone. Our commitment to helping people find quality news is one of the reasons we launched Google News Showcase in October. This new online experience was announced as part of our $1 billion investment in news and is a way to contribute to the overall sustainability of our news partners around the world.
Today, we’re announcing a number of new updates to News Showcase that will make it even more useful to news publishers and users alike.
First, we’ll soon start offering people access to paywalled content in partnership with select news publishers. Paywalls are a crucial part of some publishers’ revenue strategies. To support that goal, we’ll pay participating partners to provide limited access to paywalled content for News Showcase users. In return, users will register with the news publisher, providing a way for the publisher to build a relationship with readers.
It’s also now easier for people to find even more valuable content from the news organizations they trust; a new type of News Showcase panel includes a list of important articles selected daily by their favorite publishers. For example, if a user follows a news outlet that covers their local news, they will see daily updates on the most important local stories, selected by that newsroom. Relevant publications, both national and local, will also now be shown within the For You feed, plus in a dedicated area to discover new News Showcase publications within Newsstand on Google News.
On top of these updates to improve News Showcase, we’re bringing quality news content to even more people. News Showcase has expanded to Google News on iOS and it will be coming to news.google.com and Discover soon. News Showcase metrics will soon appear in Search Console so publishers will have more data to better understand which articles and topics users are responding to.
More publications signing on
Since first launching News Showcase two months ago, the number of publications from around the world which have signed on has nearly doubled. There are now close to 400 news publications in countries such as Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, France, U.K. and Australia, and conversations are underway in a number of other countries. New partners include publications such as Le Monde, Courrier International, L’Obs, Le Figaro, Libération and L’Express in France, and Página12, La Gaceta and El Día in Argentina.
Our media partners in Germany and Brazil, the two countries currently live with News Showcase, have already seen strong reader engagement. “News Showcase is a very important project to amplify our digital presence,” says José Roberto de Toledo, Executive Editor of piauí, a national monthly magazine in Brazil. “On one side, it offers a new and important channel for more people to get to know the content that is produced by the magazine. On the other side, it gives us financial conditions to invest even more on content production, to amplify our offerings. All together, we hope to increase the relevance and influence of piauí.”
News Showcase is also helping publishers reach new audiences. “News Showcase provides more opportunities for VRM’s market-leading regional news portals to provide our users with relevant news from their areas,” says Peter Neumann, Chief Digital Officer of VRM, a regional newspaper group in Germany. “The product has opened up new target groups for our journalism, reaching younger audiences who read our news offerings more frequently and actively than others. The easy discoverability and more attractive presentation of News Showcase panels helps a lot in this respect.”
As 2020 comes to a close, it is heartening to witness the progress of News Showcase and the enthusiasm from both publishers and readers around the world. We will continue to engage and incorporate feedback as we build out features and grow the product to add to the future sustainability of our news partners.
Even before we were all hit with the devastation of COVID-19, the newspaper industry saw the writing on the wall: It’s crucial to embrace a “digital first” business priority to remain financially sustainable. The persistent global pandemic coupled with the preexisting conditions of poverty, social inequalities and racial injustice in America’s minority communities have now accelerated the digital business challenges that many Black- and Latino-owned newspapers across the U.S. and Canada already faced.
The widening digital divide and technology gap overwhelmingly affect our more than 200 Black-owned member publications in the U.S., many of which are multi-generational and family-owned. Advertising continues to be a lifeblood of both local and national newspapers. And digital advertising is irreversibly changing how news companies become profitable and sustainable, and publishers need the trained staffing and requisite technology infrastructure to compete.
It’s in this timely context that the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP) and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) have joined together with the Google News Initiative to launch the GNI Ad Transformation Lab. This much-needed program will directly support Black- and Latino-owned news organizations and publishers focused on serving underrepresented communities in the U.S. and Canada. Over the course of six months, we aim to help the participating publishers advance their digital maturity and build the digital advertising capabilities required to achieve business growth today.
Through extensive analytical and technical support, the lab will provide personalized coaching to address each organization’s digital business transformation. Participating publishers will develop and clarify their digital content and distribution strategy, optimize their websites, improve their digital advertising and programmatic capabilities, and act on these improvements to attract more advertisers and generate incremental revenue over time.
I am personally and professionally enthusiastic about the GNI Ad Transformation Lab because I have witnessed too many times how Black- and Latino-owned news publishers in particular are overlooked and undervalued by major advertisers. One of the reasons is because these publications often struggle to keep up with the technical demands and constantly evolving pace of digital advertising.
In partnering with the NAHP, whose members span the country, with a concentration in areas of large Latino populations, we’ve seen a need to bring this type of support to our communities. And they say it’s crucial to provide professional development that focuses on adopting new advertising technology. “Increased digital revenue will help expand audiences, build capacity and further the recognition and usage of Latino publications,” says Fanny Miller, NAHP’s president.
It is not a question of competence. It is an issue of the pace and process of migration and transformation from solely print advertising to “digital first” businesses that produce viable profits. That’s why this program is committed to helping publishers create sustainable digital advertising revenue streams and business practices.
Applications for the GNI Ad Transformation Lab open today and will close on December 7th at 11:59 PM EST. We encourage Black- and Latino-owned news organizations and publishers focused on serving underrepresented communities in North America to apply.
As the program progresses, we will share lessons learned with the broader minority community of publishers. The GNI will also compile the best practices into playbooks, interactive exercises and virtual workshops and incorporate the resources into the company’s ongoing Digital Growth Program, available to all publishers for free online.
We look forward to supporting Black- and Latino-owned news publishers to navigate the challenges of digital transformation, and evolve their advertising offerings for national brands and agencies. These publishers can then strategically reinvest these additional revenue streams to keep them at the cutting edge of industry innovations and market advances in the growing digital advertising space.
It’s imperative that we sustain the trusted newspapers embedded and connected in Black and Latino communities. If we don’t tell our story, who will?