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Ringier Africa, Others Selected For Google News Initiative

In November 2018, Google announced the steps they are taking as part of the Google News Initiative to fund projects that inject new ideas into the news industry.

The 108 news outlets are recipients of the first GNI Innovation Challenges in Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Middle East, Turkey & Africa and North America representing 39 countries around the regions.

This funding, according to Recipients Manager, GNI Innovation Challenges, Sarah Hartley, in a blog post, will enable the partners to develop sustainable business models by diversifying revenue streams and/or increasing audience engagement.

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.

Hartley writes, “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. There are 7 projects from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa respectively.

“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”.

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