By Chinenye Anuforo
Google has announced 34 recipients of the third Google News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge drawn from Africa, Middle East, Israel & Turkey.
The recipients, among them 21 journalists and publishers from 10 countries in Africa, were selected for their diversity in promoting diversity, equality and inclusion in the journalism industry. The GNI Innovation Challenge is part of Google’s $300 million commitment to helping journalism thrive in the digital era and has seen news innovators step forward with many exciting initiatives demonstrating new thinking.
“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,” said Ludovich Blecher, Head of Innovation, Google News Initiative.
The recipients met all the five criteria requirements including impact on the news ecosystem, equity and inclusion, inspiration, innovation, diversity, and feasibility. Some of the recipients include Kenya’s WANANCHI Reporting, Nigeria’s Dubawa, and South Africa’s Quote This Woman+.
WANANCHI Reporting provides features that allow both the unserved and underserved Kenyans from remote and excluded areas to tell their stories and highlight diversity in a manner that avoids misrepresentation by allowing them to contribute to the news ecosystem through their technology-driven interactive platform.
Nigeria’s Dubawa is a digital platform that helps newsrooms source and license quality images from local African photographers and photojournalists. Starting with Nigeria, ATLAS is looking to host relevant news images and editorial images curated from local African photographers and photojournalists which anyone can instantly download.
South Africa’s Quote This Woman+, an interactive online database solution and tool helps journalists and newsrooms to efficiently access diverse expert sources for their news coverage. The database provides a growing community of African women+ experts from all fields, including science, public health, economic policy, politics, education reform, environmental justice and more.
This year’s challenge received a total of 425 submissions from 42 countries, representing a 27 percent increase in total applications. Notably, there was a significant increase in applications from news organisations undertaking fact checking activities at 118 percent when compared to previous innovation challenges in the region. Proposed projects which use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) also showed significant growth (92 percent), reflecting a trend across the news ecosystem to embrace cutting edge new technologies and data.