In November 2018, we announced the steps we’re taking as part of the Google News Initiative to fund projects that inject new ideas into the news industry. We are excited to share the 227 recipients of our first GNI Innovation Challenges in Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East, Turkey & Africa and North America representing 47 countries around the regions. This funding will enable our partners to develop sustainable business models by diversifying revenue streams and/or increasing audience engagement. You can read more about selected projects below.
See the winners from each region
Summary: Quality local news is at risk. This threatens the sustainability of the sector but even more deeply, democracy itself, since many people rely on local news to form their political views and develop community attachments. Thirty counties in Georgia do not receive local news coverage. In many cases those same counties — and surrounding communities — are also the areas in Georgia with double-digit poverty rates, high levels of uninsured families, and low rates of civic engagement. Local news, as well as in-depth exploration of regional and state-level issues, is essential to these population centers and can inform the whole state.
Solution: A group of local Georgia online media groups, large and small, has entered a dialogue about how to protect local news by better understanding and collaborating to serve the needs of diverse audiences. This project will deepen our understanding of online audience needs, explore capacity building, and frame collaborative digital media opportunities. It will be grounded in a range of community perspectives across Georgia. Through the Georgia Collaborative for Local News, media organizations large and small will work together to provide local news to Georgia communities throughout the state serving the needs for all residents.
Summary: Understanding community information needs remains a challenge for most media organizations, leading to gaps in coverage, and misaligned resources. Pulse is a tool for understanding not only what info communities need, but also why they need it and when we can best serve those needs.
Solution:In partnership with Relatable, Resolve plans to develop Pulse, an innovative text diary approach for assessing community information needs. We will ask a defined sample of Philadelphians to keep a daily information needs and sharing diary via SMS, using the Relatable platform. We’ll recruit participants by acquiring phone numbers and through Resolve’s deep community engagement work, which reaches communities often excluded from or misrepresented in the news, including black and Latinx folks, immigrants, workers in low wage jobs, and gun violence survivors. Pulse learnings will flow into Equally Informed Philly, Resolve's initiative to bridge the information divide, which connects to a critical mass of Philadelphia's local newsrooms.
Summary: How does Eugene Weekly provide an alternative voice and also provide the coverage the community lacks? Will readers support increased coverage of rural and underrepresented communities? We seek to reach out and understand what the community sees as under-covered news topics. To do so we will reach out not only to our regular readers but also to those who might not see themselves and what they care about as positively represented by a newspaper, particularly rural and BIPOC community members. This includes discovering how to digitally access and encourage those new or slow to digital media.
Solution: The research will use digital tools and print media to guide readers to the digital. We will first reach out to the community and discover what readers think about our coverage. Then we will compare it to what we think readers think of our coverage and pivot to what is lacking. We then use the research to do outreach to our readers and advertisers as to who we are and who we are trying to be. We seek to increase digital readership and coverage to fill in a growing news desert and discover if readers would support switching a free paper to a nonprofit model.
Summary: This project will assess the information needs of three communities in New Jersey that will be served by new hyperlocal startups. These startups were among the first round of public funding recipients from the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium. The Center will work with the people behind these new hyperlocals to identify potential audiences, conduct focus groups and surveys, and incorporate the findings into their organizational planning and content. The research design will be written up as a playbook for future hyperlocals to better understand their community’s information needs during the formative startup period.
Solution: This project addresses two ongoing problems for local journalism simultaneously: sustainability for local news outlets and addressing community information needs. We believe that by thoroughly understanding their community's information needs from the beginning, the startups involved in this research will be more sustainable and more responsive in their journalism. Second and related, having the opportunity to conduct rigorous research into their community's information needs during the formative startup stage will allow make the journalism produced more informative therefore potentially producing community-wide benefits such as greater civility, understanding, and civic involvement.
Summary: Studies show that 1.1 million North Carolina households lack access to either high-speed broadband or the digital tools and skills needed to access this essential service. Most of these households are in rural communities leaving NC with a significant digital divide. As a result, digital news is failing to fill gaps in declining print-based media, the primary news source in rural areas. More than half of NC’s 100 counties are, or are at risk of becoming, news deserts. This disproportionately impacts rural communities where broadband access simply does not exist, leaving residents without essential news and information.
Solution: Carolina Public Press’s project, will discover the news needs and distribution preferences of those living beyond the end of the digital line. Carolina Public Press will use targeted surveys and focus groups within affected rural communities to research known news gaps and preferred delivery methods in order to serve these residents with critical news and information.
Summary: Wick Communications, a family-owned local news company, is partnering with Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to research new products and strategies to facilitate healthy online discourse in small communities. The prevalence of online misinformation has evolved from an unintended consequence of the digital revolution to a public health crisis. In a July advisory, the U.S. Surgeon General called health misinformation an “urgent threat to public health.” And much of that misinformation is originating from small communities in the U.S., not overseas.
Solution: The Voices Listening Project will study participants’ social media use, news consumption habits and, most critically, gauge their response to misinformation mitigation strategies from local journalists. Research will be focused on small, diverse communities in Arizona. It will first understand more deeply how these small communities are engaging online, then collect feedback on the products and strategies that will help facilitate a return to fact-based conversation.
Summary: Our local Latino communities want their voices heard, their inequities brought to light, and more local, fact-based news in both English and Spanish that they can trust. These are some of the many important insights we learned during our 5-month Listening Tour, and which led us to our mission statement: To amplify the voices of our local Latino communities. The Record-Journal will build upon the foundation & momentum of our Latino Communities Reporting Lab to bring together journalists, data experts, a network of community leaders and technology partners to understand the needs of our local Latino communities and build trust through deep community listening, engagement and data gathering.
Solution: Through deeper community listening, engagement and data gathering with our local Latino communities, we will produce more inclusive reporting that represents the diverse communities we serve and develop a playbook other media companies can use as a blueprint.
Summary: Maine Public has robust individual-platform reporting. We aggregate the data by hand and present it to key stakeholders. We know the demo-, geo-, and socio-graphics for all of our individual digital platforms. However, each platform can only be understood in isolation. We don’t have aggregate or comparative information across platforms. What we don’t know: who are we missing and on which platforms are they consuming media? How can we engage underserved and new audiences where they are? The audience segmentation study and the aggregated audience data & the new "Engagement Currency" will help answer this.
Solution: This project will enable content creators to better understand their entire audience by measuring total audience engagement across all platforms regardless of the many disparate platform metrics. Audience engagement is measured in different ways on different platforms – web sites, apps, social media, time spent listening or watching, etc. This makes it nearly impossible to compare engagement across all platforms. This project will create an “engagement currency” so that the disparate platform metrics can be normalized and directly compared.
Summary: The Texas Tribune is committed to educating and engaging all Texans on matters of politics, policy and current events and, as stated in their 2018 strategic plan, has a goal to double and diversify their audience by the end of 2025. With proper audience research, the Tribune will gain insight as to who the nonprofit newsroom is serving now, and what initiatives to prioritize in the future to increase audience diversity in pursuit of their mission.
Solution: The Texas Tribune will work with a research firm to create a detailed diversity profile of its current website audience. Empowered with these findings, the Tribune’s award-winning audience team will identify new potential groups of readers to engage and will gain insight into the types of stories they want to read and the information they seek. The outcome of this work will be a research-informed strategy that will increase reader engagement and prioritize audience-first stories that reflect the rich diversity of Texas.
Summary: Addressing misinformation is a critical audience need, given that a majority of Americans see it as a big problem and research shows that misinformation can affect people’s beliefs and have real-world consequences. As AP reporter David Klepper noted, “misinformation at the local level hasn’t received as much attention. In part, that’s because there are fewer reporters to call out those responsible for misinformation.” The tool being created aims to make this work easier.
Solution: Research shows that corrective information can help to inoculate people from attempts to misinform, but trusted organizations like local newsrooms must know that misinformation exists in order to counter it. Univision Los Angeles will conduct research and prototype a tool for surfacing local misinformation. The tool will use inputs such as community-submitted reports to identify potential misinformation circulating in communities and will provide journalists with an easy-to-use interface to categorize these inputs as misinformation or not.
Summary: Just half of the immigrant-serving news outlets that existed in Chicago in 2012 are still in business today. As immigrant communities continue to grow, news outlets have done a poor job filling the gap in our ecosystem, rarely offering content in Spanish or other non-English languages.
Borderless Magazine’s project will blaze a trail for newsrooms who want to develop and serve multilingual audiences. Experimenting with new distribution and engagement strategies for Spanish and English audiences and hiring immigrant grassroots organizers to fill in gaps in coverage and help distribute our reporting.
Solution: Borderless Magazine has an incredibly diverse and young audience. The majority of readers are under 40 years old and nearly half of the audience reads in Spanish. This project will deepen the strong market position by blending the high-tech audience analysis tools of e-commerce with the low-fi approaches of grassroots political organizing to better understand and serve the needs of the diverse audience.
Summary: Newsday seeks to better understand Long Island and its multi-racial, multi-ethnic web of communities. Through a collaboration with Hofstra University, they will execute credible, science-based, objective research to find out more about the people who live there and what they need to thrive. They will then bring urgency and attention to specific societal challenges through informed and respectful dialogue at at least one live streamed roundtable event powered by the research.
Solution: Long Island needs credible information, research, and insights to collaboratively resolve some of its most persistent problems. The region also lacks a space (physically or virtually) to convene important conversations across boundaries. Until Newsday can understand the perspectives, the biases and the beliefs that underlie the most divisive policy issues of the region, they cannot begin to address them. The starting point is illuminating these conflicts with research and focus groups to shape a roundtable on important topics. Ultimately, this project will better inform the newsroom about the concerns and views of all our communities to better serve them.
Summary: Two years after it launched, THE CITY is at a critical juncture. It must leverage editorial success and accelerate the audience and product development, identify multiple revenue streams and engage more New Yorkers to succeed. THE CITY’s project is designed to inform efforts to reach a broader set of New Yorkers, focusing on neighborhoods where immigrants and people of color are in the majority and often gravely underserved by other media, while also growing our revenues and impact.
Solution: Combining the community-listening methodology developed in an Open Newsroom program, staged with libraries and other community partners, with user research conducted at scale to support rapid, iterative product development, and to inform THE CITY’s core editorial and marketing strategies. It will implement an approach informed by human-centered design and built on three pillars: community engagement through the Open Newsroom project, surveys and one-on-one interviews with existing audience members, and data sourced from web, newsletter and social media analytics. This project will help reach a substantially broader set of New Yorkers, focusing on those who are not yet being reached, and grow revenue and impact.
Summary: Minnesota is seeing a growing number of residents who speak multiple languages. Over 11% percent of Minnesota residents don’t speak English at home. And in Hennepin and Ramsey county, the two largest counties in the state, 55% percent of the population are multilingual, with Spanish, Somali and Hmong being the common non-English languages. Despite this, those who don't speak English as their first language, or are interested in accessing reliable news in their native language to maintain ties to their local communities, are particularly underserved in Minnesota’s current media ecosystem.
Solution: Sahan Journal has identified an audience that needs high-quality, reliable, and timely news in non-English languages and in interactive formats. It is collaborating with three Twin Cities-based, community-focused media outlets that produce programming and content exclusively in Spanish, Somali and Hmong on Facebook and YouTube: La Raza 95.7 FM, Somali TV Minnesota, and 3HmongTV. “Citizen Lab,” a series of bi-weekly, public editorial meetings to learn what stories, topics, and issues are important to each community will use what is heard to jointly produce news in Somali, Hmong, and Spanish.
Summary: Louisville media is not lifting up enough Black voices and experiences, leading to distrust in media and a disconnect between available information and resources and the people who need them most. Louisville Public Media wants to better serve local Black communities through listening and building authentic relationships. The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the effects of generations of disinvestment in Louisville’s Black communities, specifically the city’s West End neighborhoods. The killing of Breonna Taylor highlighted inequities and intensified the community’s pursuit of racial justice and accountability in government, policing and business.
Solution: Through research, Louisville Public Media will learn how best to deliver news and information for and about these communities and adapt its offerings or develop new products and methods to do so. It will bring issues and potential solutions to mainstream media, connect community members to resources, build empathy, and prompt calls-to-action to affect change.
Summary: Immigrants are in the audiences of nearly every newsroom, yet have long been left behind by mainstream media, and have few places to turn for investigative reporting on issues relevant to them. Documented will use research to define, test, and pilot a news product or messaging strategy to reach Chinese-speaking and non-Spanish-speaking Caribbean immigrant Communities in New York City.
Solution: Building off the success of its existing Spanish-language WhatsApp news service, Documented Semanal, this project will bring unprecedented access to news and investigations that matter to these communities, and a two-way channel for immigrants on the ground to interact with journalists and define the content that is relevant to them. The project researches what Chinese-speaking and non-Spanish speaking Caribbean immigrant communities need from a news product -- understanding news consumption habits, obstacles to news access, and desired areas of coverage, through interviews, focus groups, and research. We will then create, test, and launch products dedicated to engaging these communities to determine best strategies. Information on this project and the data collected throughout will be shared publicly.
Summary: Word is Out is collaboration formed by six LGBTQ+ publishers and Local Media Foundation. Together the group will produce great journalism focused on inequities and solutions. They will also work on business strategies including the launch of a national website, newsletter and membership model.
Solution: Word is Out seeks to better understand the needs of the LGBTQ+ community in order to produce the most relevant content and membership offerings. The research will consist of surveys and focus groups. The results will guide the strategy for the national launch as well as the six individual publishers.
Summary: Community-centred news outlets like El Tímpano, Enlace Latino NC, and Conecta Arizona have recently emerged to address gaps in local news for Latino immigrants. Unlike the dominant model of Spanish-language news — commercial television — these outlets have a dynamic relationship with audience members, who communicate questions and stories directly with local journalists. An abundance of research has examined the impact of local news on democracy, civic engagement, and public health. Yet the majority of such research focuses on English-language news and commercial Spanish-language media, ignoring new and innovative models that serve growing immigrant communities.
Solution: Through a rigorous study of three newsrooms and their audiences, this project will conduct the first ever impact assessment of community-centred news on civic engagement among Latino immigrants. Understanding how news can contribute to the health and civic participation of Latino immigrants and other marginalized communities is urgently needed.
Summary: The project will prototype automated digital tools for reporters and newsrooms to view source-diversity proportions in real-time/on-demand for both draft stories and published. A CMS plugin will help reporters visualize source-diversity proportions for quotes. A web monitor application will offer the same visualizations at the site level for up to 7,000 US sites. Unlike one-time manual audits, these tools will offer near real-time/on-demand feedback to ease barriers to assessing stories’ representativeness. An analytical framework will be based on a synthesis of journalism ethics vocabularies and design research findings. Santa Clara College will release the tools to early-adopter newsrooms with training.
Solution: Particularly in 2020, newsrooms across the country have made impassioned declarations about their commitments to DEI. But newsrooms are increasingly resource-constrained, which makes manual diversity audits of sourcing and quoting practices impractical. Human audits are valuable, but time-consuming, expensive, and retrospective, usually done annually. Human audits also do not create an everyday ”nudge” factor (a concept from behavioral economics) to affect behavior change. This solution is to offer real-time/on-demand source-diversity proportions visualizations through a dashboard. It will be released as a CMS plugin and web application; it will work for both draft stories in the CMS and published work.
Summary: Newsrooms can know instantly how many page views or unique users they had at any given time. But they don’t have metrics for how many of their published sources were people of color, women, or LGBTQ. You can’t improve upon what you don’t measure. This new tool will empower newsrooms to track representation in their coverage.
Solution: People of color are left out of news coverage. Although there’s no hard numbers to prove it (because no one is counting), just ask anyone living in a majority-minority neighborhood whether they’re reflected in local media. Too often reports from these places only when someone is robbed or killed. In this way the media stretches and amplifies a place’s worst moments until tragedy and dysfunction cloud the whole picture. Next City's "representation tracker" will enable newsrooms to track the diversity of their published sources so they can hold themselves accountable. The tool tallies the number of named sources in coverage and breaks them down by demographics such as race, gender and sexual orientation.
Summary: For the past four and a half years Overture has held fast to the mission / belief that society has not prioritized technology and innovation to create opportunities that benefit humanity. To set an example and provide a framework as to how the application of technology can be used to create an opportunity for all, Overture will be developing a technology platform that will erase boundaries and create a framework that allows for talent to be recognized and for their efforts and for individuals to receive monetary compensation that will allow them to be judged according to their abilities.
Solution: We know that there are talented people all over the world that typically don't have access to opportunities that match their specific talentsand while we have been able to create amazing platforms that connect consumers with the services that they need on demand such as food, transporation and consumer goods; we still have not utilized technology platforms to create connection points between people whom lack the networks and access to capital. Overture will be launching composer flow to help change by bringing innovation and a new found approach to connectivity that will help reshape the technology landscape.
Summary: Creating a comprehensive, inclusive open-sourced style guide and editing resources designed to deliver lasting change. The Vox Media free editorial style guide serves a dual function: It is both a comprehensive resource that helps drive and responds to public discourse, and a training tool designed to teach staff how to keep DE&I issues at top of mind as they work. Outlets from small or local publications to large or national news organizations will have go-to resources that give regularly and nimbly updated information on how to cover a wide range of complex DE&I topics, and offer guidance on how news organizations can adopt or tailor their content to their audiences as needed.
Solution: When news breaks or stories are being told, too many newsrooms are left scrambling, trying to create standards around complex topics while juggling deadlines and their own staff’s implicit biases. The very language, verbal and visual, can keep people disconnected from the rest of the story. Is it possible to catalyze inclusivity and editorial equity in newsrooms for how they see themselves—not separate from, but directly entwined with the larger editorial process?
Summary: The Educational Video Center has a living archive of award-winning documentary films focusing on systemic inequities and structural racism produced over three decades by youth citizen journalists from historically oppressed communities in NYC. New films are continuously produced through ongoing educational programs. EVC’s GNI Innovation Challenge Project is to distribute and license our incomparable youth-produced archive of documentary films and short clips to mainstream media. This will help EVC achieve sustainability and growth, whilst amplifying important stories reported by low-income youth of color that are not being told in local and national media.
Solution: There has been a sharp decline in local news desks in NYC leaving millions without a vital source of local news. This has disadvantaged communities, particularly historically marginalized youth, of an institution essential for exposing systemic injustices and encouraging civic engagement to meet the demands of living in a healthy democracy. Youth voices are underrepresented in mainstream media and important stories are not being told which makes the news media increasingly less valuable to them. 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.
Summary: To counter the prevailing narrative, and to better ensure meeting new audiences where they are, the Texas Observer will implement a community reporting strategy aimed at identifying community issues. It looks to better understand how communities of color engage with and support journalism by meeting the members of those communities where they are, wherever they are, across the state of Texas.
Solution: Why, if there is significant interest in local news on the part of at least two communities of color -- as was demonstrated by a 2019 Pew study -- are those same communities not, generally speaking, following news closely? Is it perhaps because there isn’t enough engagement centered on communities of color that might serve to strengthen those audiences’ participation in local news ecosystems? Creating a wholesome feedback cycle will demonstrate real commitment to communities of color on the part of a news organization, and encouraging direct support by those communities of said news organization via grassroots efforts to collect and analyze data about different communities' specific interests.
Summary: Word in Black is a news collaborative that also focuses on business transformation for the partners (ten of the nation's leading Black publishers). They are focused on proposing solutions to racial inequities in America. Word in Black will launch the following products: a national website (powered by Newspack); a newsletter aimed at 500,000+ subscribers in year one; a contributions portal that will generate $1MM in revenue and more.
Solution: Proposed solutions to racial inequities in America should be led by the Black press, but that isn't happening. Word in Black is creating a national news collaborative that is powered by ten of the leading Black publishers. A national site will feature local stories from the ten markets, with commentary from a national journalist. The group will host virtual town halls, events and more. They'll sell sponsorships, branded content and seek community contributions on a website powered by Wordpress. A newsletter will be created with a goal of 500K subscribers in year one. The Black press, not mainstream media, will be a leader in this space.
Summary: The Houston Defender Network will increase audience engagement and generate revenue by combining its unique relationship with the Black and Hispanic communities, enhancing rich content/coverage and aligning talented journalists. The transformation is built on virtual events, digital programs in a variety of formats, and targeted newsletters. The project includes: a Newspack -powered website creating a flexible, responsive content hub; tools to expand audience reach and deepen engagement with sponsors/advertisers; resources to encourage community engagement through audience participation; and a marketing campaign promoting digital transformation.
Solution: Confronting the declining print industry, the audience shift in information access to digital, the limitations of systemic racism and the challenges of COVID-19, this project opens the doors of opportunity to create a new business model that addresses all of these issues. Houston Defender Network will tackle these challenges by creating new digital products and services that transform the way it connects and engages with stakeholders (audience and advertisers).
Summary: Bloom Labs will collaborate with six newsrooms as part of the Bay Area News Collective to assess the geographic diversity and density of news in California’s San Jose region. The newsrooms will use Bloom’s geotagging tools and location analytics to leverage insights and formulate experiments for underrepresented communities. The resulting solutions will curate stories from all newsrooms on maps and neighborhood feeds that offer more diverse and equitable experiences for readers and businesses. The project will document how collective newsroom strategies influence the perception and value of engagement, subscriptions, and partnerships.
Solution: Traditionally, local newsrooms have communication strategies exclusive from other businesses in the same region, creating blind spots or overlaps in news coverage and accessibility. Consequently, one news service may not serve areas that other newsrooms cover well, causing readers to have inaccurate or competitive local news perceptions. Bloom Labs and six local newsrooms in the San Francisco Bay Area will collaborate in this project to assess problematic patterns in local communities. The project will guide newsrooms to geotag stories, obtain location-based insights, and implement news solutions that leverage its hyperlocal value for readers and businesses.
Summary: Creating a toolkit to help news organizations find and edit or remove archived stories that cause needless harm to the reputations of members of their communities.
Solution: The project is solving a fairness problem. Readers often ask for stories about old criminal arrests or convictions to be removed. Those stories can prevent them from getting jobs or housing, even if courts have expunged their convictions. This project will create a system to scan archives and identify such stories so that human editors can decide whether to change or remove them. This system will aid even citizens who do not request help, and will help the team review more stories more efficiently. It will be shared with the rest of the industry upon completion.
Summary: The Diversity Dashboard uses geo-location tied to local content to provide reporters and editors with data on which communities they’re covering and how they write about them. The data is displayed in a dashboard which includes a map with neighborhood breakdown ranking different topics covered. Census data is incorporated to provide further context of the diversity in each neighborhood. Users can filter results in the dashboard to see content mapped from the entire newsroom, their team or their own content. The goal of the dashboard is to help local newsrooms avoid gaps in coverage and build trust within diverse communities.
Solution: The challenge local newsrooms face is that data on which communities they are covering and how they are covering them does not exist. Reporters and editors can make a best guess at how diverse their coverage is, but they're unable to make an informed strategy based on an assumption. Because of this, newsrooms often don't have a strategy focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion. Diverse communities as a result have a hard time trusting their local news outlets because they don't see themselves represented in their coverage.
Summary: Save the Black Press will be a data access portal, content discovery platform, and resource support model for generating revenue and innovating content at black news organizations. First, by developing a subscription based data access portal which will make public data more accessible and usable, including functionality for querying the data, generating visualizations and building maps; second, by providing resource support to black news organizations e.g. hiring data/investigative journalists, updating organizational websites, and business planning; and third, by developing a subscription based content discovery platform to surface content from black news organizations that is data-informed and visually appealing.
Solution: Black news organizations need to innovate content to grow audiences, increase engagement, and generate new revenue streams, but rich data sources about Black people at the city, county, state, and national level that can serve as a foundation for bold content innovation strategies and more data-informed reporting, are difficult to access and analyze. Save The Black Press will be a collaborative effort to develop a data access portal, a content discovery platform, and a resource support model that will help to innovate and sustain Black news organizations’ revenue and content development strategies.
Summary: “Our America: Hidden Stories,” from the ABC Owned Television Stations (OTV), will illuminate the hidden histories of our cities through a multiplatform, immersive experience that includes video storytelling, a learning curriculum and a proprietary, data journalism-based “Equity Report” tracking progress around key social equity metrics in areas such as education and policing. The project seeks to better understand the formative “groundwater” that has led to systemic racism in our communities and will leverage data and curriculum resources to inspire local citizens to move forward in a more inclusive and equitable way.
Solution: During this time of unrest and calls for increased diversity across all sectors of our society, high-growth demographic groups report a lack of representation and little accountability to correct systemic inequities. Additionally, educational content often fails to accurately illustrate the stories of underrepresented groups. Through a newly-created Equity Report, the ABC Owned Television Stations will gather raw, detailed data to both look back at the root of racism and track progress towards the future. And, through its multiplatform lessons and curricula, the “Our America: Hidden Stories” project will make consumption of this groundbreaking content both engaging and measurable.
Summary: Pass the Mic is a database of expert sources from underrepresented communities that can serve as sources on subjects you’re already reading about in the news. Experts that come from an underrepresented community such as people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, female identifying or non-binary folks and people with disabilities will nominate another expert they wish they’d see being interviewed in the news more often. Nominated experts can input their qualifications and vouch for the qualifications of their nominees to the database so reporters can easily reference an expert voice from an underrepresented community to interview for their next story.
Solution: With Pass the Mic, reporters can search for sources by expertise, going beyond asking “who did we talk to last time?” by accessing a wide catalogue of new faces and names to choose from, all nominated for their expertise on a variety of topics, which would be vetted, categorized and contextualized for reporters to have at their fingertips. This solves a few problems. First, sources are often not reflective of the communities that journalists serve. Second, reporters often turn to their own social circles when sourcing. Third, underrepresented groups have often found reasons to distrust media institutions, especially legacy organizations.
Summary: The Integration of our Broadcast News Operation with digital platforms would provide for a streamlined “One Kuam” approach in which quality content and journalism shifts from broadcast-led to a limited audience, to digital, cloud-based and accessible across the local, regional and global community. This digital overhaul redefines “mass media” by breaking down barriers and limitations.
Solution: Local broadcast media faces a great challenge with the growing prevalence of digital and social media. Digital platforms provide more access to larger audiences, more convenience with on-demand options, and the opportunity for viewers to customize news and information that is pertinent to them. Creating a seamless digitally-led product expands the amount of news and information and ends an antiquated analog operation.
Summary: Creation of a website which will allow for Low Power FM radio stations to syndicate and exchange programming. This will also aid station funding in mutual fashion through any combination of direct purchase, crowdsourcing and crowdfunding.
Solution: LPFM stations face difficulties in paying bills via securing underwriters, often struggle to find new audiences and rarely share programming of interest. This website will streamline the obvious resolution of all of these problems at once and greatly aid in the diversification of American radio programming.
Summary: NAHP, NNPA and AAN will explore technologies and content opportunities to build a membership network with and between the three national media associations, and with the members within each association, touching more than 500 local media publishers in the U.S. This partnership will endeavour to leverage demonstrated high levels of collaboration and knowledge sharing between members, allowing independent, local publishers to build more direct outreach to their existing audiences and grow readership throughout the United States and globally. Initial goals include: facilitating advancement and learning among publishers, promoting memberships, and elevating specific content verticals that raise audience and improve ad targeting.
Solution: Long-brewing demographic shifts and societal stress (COVID, social justice, workforce development, climate) have brought issues of diversity to a tipping point in the common consciousness, not only reflected in corporate commitments to DEI, but also in public stands for justice. Diverse news consumers demand deeper coverage; majority consumers look to understand diversity better. As local revenue bases are challenging for members, NNPA and NAHP have seen a significant increase in the long growing interest from national brands, opening new opportunities. While print advertising remains a significant source of revenue, new digital offerings from emails and updated websites, to network efforts represent a big growth opportunity.
Summary: The Lenfest Institute’s Lenfest Local Lab, the Brown Institute, and The Philadelphia Inquirer are collaborating to develop a suite of machine learning tools that empower local newsrooms to make data-informed assessments of coverage that strengthen and accelerate DEI best practices. The tools will help newsrooms survey broad sets of content, including analysis of language, imagery, locations and sources mentioned in coverage. These tools will expand the scope and reduce the time it takes to perform content audits, allowing newsrooms to continuously monitor coverage. The tools will also support strategic planning and business modeling for more representative and equitable news organizations.
Solution: News organizations can struggle to offer fair coverage when they don’t have the capacity to assess their coverage of local communities. Existing methods for detecting underrepresentation, misrepresentation, or underreporting are expensive, time-consuming, and rely on small data sets. The collaboration seeks to accelerate DEI best practices through an open-source suite of machine learning tools that allows newsrooms to better understand how communities are portrayed. The tools examine how editorial and product decisions manifest themselves in language, locations covered, and story placement. These tools can shed light on disparities in coverage measured relative to demographic benchmarks, and offer insights into product opportunities.
Summary: Joliet Focus is an app that will function as a locally-driven platform to share content from the underserved Black community of Joliet. With a focus on easy uploading and sharing, we will encourage a user-generated discussion through photos, stories and videos that will amplify previously underserved voices in the community and foster meaningful discussion and viewpoints on what makes Joliet a positive community to live in, what can be improved, and what’s next. Promotion of the app will center around a local pop-up art gallery in downtown Joliet which will showcase photo submissions from the community.
Solution: The Herald-News, serving the greater Joliet market, needs to be essential to the entire community, specifically the Black community, which is underserved. This project will make that happen through strong community engagement with the app and through monthly community meetings with social service agencies, schools, the city and others seeking to better connect with their neighbors.
Summary: A new project from nonprofits Amplify Utah and The Salt Lake Tribune, in collaboration with Salt Lake Community College, adds diverse perspectives to local news through student journalism. A reimagined curriculum focuses on critical issues facing Utah communities and delivers stories to a free repository, providing sources for growing media engagement. This project will model how community college students and journalists can bring multi-dimensional points-of-view to local news organizations and provide a source of growing readership and revenue.
Solution: A challenge facing traditional media organizations is decreasing news literacy and engagement. While all ages consume news in new ways, today's students have grown up on a steady diet of social media and disparagement of the press. The futures of both our democracy and The Tribune depend, in part, on the informed engagement of young people. This project taps into the diverse student body at SLCC and amplifies their voices (and those of their communities) through student reporting and journalism, while also offering new content and revenue opportunities for local media.
Summary: Engagement has become central to newsroom strategy, yet hasn’t been realized as a viable business model. Through applying Machine Learning and classification AI to first party audience engagement data, Hearken can transform insights into editorial value for the public and financial value for newsrooms.
This project will:
- Incentivize newsrooms to pay more and closer attention to engagement
- Directly tie coverage decisions to listening to the public
- Help them be more relevant and worthy of financial support
- Save time and money through efficiently responding to and providing new content for novel information needs
- Identify trends and actionable insights that would otherwise go unnoticed
Solution: In this era of compounded uncertainty and complexity, the public's information needs have never been higher. At the same time, newsrooms have never been less able to meet the demand due to shrinking resources and lack of trust and public support. The more people feel heard, the more that they see a newsroom is serving them directly, the more likely they are to trust and pay for that newsrooms’ services. By centering the needs of the public in their content strategy, newsrooms transform editorial staff from the Loss part of the P&L to the Profit side. Hearken’s tech solutions helps newsrooms simultaneously translate audience insight into lead generation for original stories and for new subscribers.
Summary: The 'Simply No Words' project harnesses the power of animation to reach underrepresented audiences without reliance on words. Ripple Effect Images will establish a collaborative model that facilitates the production and distribution of animated campaigns targeting timely public information themes, such as preventing the spread of COVID-19, voter registration, or how to prepare for a hurricane. The project will generate high-quality animated content that can be shared, repurposed and edited to meet the needs of local news organizations committed to inclusion through the provision of accurate and accessible information to underserved audiences.
Solution: Despite unprecedented digital connectivity, vital information frequently does not reach those who need it most. Literacy and language skills remain a barrier for millions of Americans who struggle to access critical advice on themes including health, emergency response, and essential services. Ripple’s animation campaigns communicate across languages and to those unable to read. By scaling up this innovative approach and establishing an animation center of excellence for regional media outlets, this project will bring economies of scale in service journalism, for local news organizations seeking relevant content that reaches a significantly wider audience.
Summary: The Washington Informer and the Center for Public Integrity will develop a sponsored email product that provides updated information about gentrification in Southeast Washington, D.C. The information will be based on a data analysis of public records about property loss due to back taxes in two key predominantly Black wards facing gentrification pressure. The email product will also include news about redevelopment efforts in the area.
Solution: The goal is to bring awareness to an issue that is transforming the face of one of the last historically Black areas of the capital, while also addressing the loss of intergenerational Black wealth as properties are lost to back taxes. The project will be a definitive source of information about gentrification, providing a vital service to longtime residents of the area. It is also a scalable model for building digital products that serve Black residents in cities in which displacement is a significant issue, while producing news about a critical issue in historically Black communities.
Summary: MediaNews Group aims to expand access to essential journalism by offering discounts to enrolled college students and creating a token-based system of access to allow libraries, school districts, universities, philanthropic donors and generous individuals to underwrite access for disadvantaged groups.
Solution: Reversing revenue declines means tightening the paywall with fewer free articles and higher prices, which reduces access to essential journalism. Launching verified student discounts and creating a donation portal for institutions to underwrite tokenized access for disadvantaged groups, creates a long-term, sustainable model that funds journalism and keeps local communities informed.
Summary: Al Día is an SMS system that will allow readers in two of the most densely populated Spanish speaking, Latino, immigrant areas in Louisiana to receive instant messages on local/national breaking news, stories, events, and services in Spanish; with the ability to ask questions and get responses.
Solution: The importance of local news in Spanish often does not align with how easily the Latino Immigrant can find it and understand it. Jambalaya Deportiva Corporation’s audience accesses Facebook at significantly higher rates based on our analytics than any other internet/social platform; thus, it causes local news to gets lost in the user's social Facebook timeline updates. Levelling out the communication field in the state by offering a service for Spanish-speaking Latino immigrants to be well-informed means meeting them where they are.
Summary: People who live in Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta face pervasive health issues, with each area faring far worse than the U.S. average in health indicators and outcomes. Both regions are largely forgotten about in the national conversation, lacking in infrastructure that promotes education and economic growth. Gray plans to create a resource to help people in these geographically connected but demographically diverse regions access health information and resources to improve the quality of life in communities we serve.
Solution: A recent Appalachian Regional Commission study found that region trailed the U.S. average in 33 of 41 health indicators, including 7 of the top 10 that result in death. A CDC study of the Mississippi Delta found similar results, with residents there faring 22% worse than the U.S. average in health outcomes. Gray will develop digitally focused products to provide resources for people who live in those regions to improve their health outlook and will leverage our teams of journalists in both regions to boost the long term outlook for people who live there.
Summary: Today’s Southern LGBTQ communities need a news outlet that celebrates their unique and diverse voices and lived experiences. Qnotescarolinas.org will provide an online platform for LGBTQ Carolinians to amplify the struggles and needs that are often underrepresented in mainstream press. It will be a hub of online engagement with pilot programs in the Charlotte region and Central North Carolina, be community-sourced, community-involved and hyper-local. Focused on digital publication, it will create a place for community forum and reach people where they are despite barriers to news and information, while creating an archived history of LGBTQ people living in the South.
Solution: Many LGBTQ publications have disappeared in the last 20 years due to increasing overhead and decreasing advertising. The niche has not evolved well and few online-based initiatives have focused on the true interests and voices of local communities. There is a need from LGBTQ people to talk about more experiences that cross the lines of sex, race, gender, nationality, and economic identities, and like early queer publications reflect the diversity and urgent needs of marginalized communities. Qnotescarolinas.org will provide an online-first publication and community hub focused on local needs, local voices and a local forum.
Summary: This project marries local data and engagement to better serve the community through the creation of a data vault. Newsday/nextLI will reach underserved audiences, create a renewable revenue stream and create a playbook to share with other news organizations. Newsday/nextLI’s extensive data assets range from Census data to mapping to original surveys, building a high-level schema that allows different datasets to exist in relation to each other. Through a new messaging platform, community members can access the data, experts and tools to advocate for their needs. For clients, Newsday/nextLI will offer tiers of concierge data services for revenue: self-exploration, packaged, total customization.
Solution: Newsday is the primary source of regional and local news for 2.8 million people fragmented across two counties, two cities, 13 towns, 118 villages and 125 school districts. These municipal cutouts undermine traditional efforts to inform readers about the challenges facing their communities, to unearth larger patterns of public policy concerns and to help businesses understand their patrons. The project’s solution is to create a data vault that explores the relationships between datasets affecting communities. The project will free each dataset from its original use in a single news story/investigation to benefit both the audience looking to advocate for policy changes and for business clients.
Summary: Recognizing that legacy local media systems are part of the problem of structural racism in Charlottesville, the Charlottesville Inclusive Media project seeks to build a trusted framework for local news and policy reporting grounded in service to communities that builds trust, transparency, and power in inclusive local media and decision-making systems. The founding partners work together to create community connections, lift up important conversations, empower African American communities and audiences, and build capacity for independent Black media companies and professionals.
Solution: Build shared trust
An extractive mindset treating Black audiences as sources on crime and poverty stories TO a practice that serves communities of color, builds trust, demonstrating solidarity, and increases power through a framework of engagement.
Shape the marketplace
A marketplace where African American-owned media is understaffed, under resourced, and ignored TO one that features strong, sustainable independent Black media companies that influence mainstream media and local decision-making.
Grow civic engagement
A civic system struggling to dismantle structural racism through specific solutions and policies TO one that creates innovative and meaningful policy solutions originating and working with and for the people most impacted.
Summary: The goal of the project is to develop an easy to use database conversion tool that allows journalists to convert data into useful, impactful information without needing an IT department or data scientist
Solution: D.C. Witness gathers data on every homicide in D.C. As the data has grown, the team has looked for ways to integrate the database into the website, providing data visualizations, creating a “data playground” for readers to explore data and find trends themselves. After considerable research the team hasn’t been able to find a database, plugin, or other available method that allows them to do this easily and in a journalist-friendly manner. There are available databases and plugins to create visualizations, but they all suffer the traditional data journalism issue of needing data scientists or high levels of computer knowledge to be leveraged to create journalistic value-added.
Summary: A comprehensive, searchable guide to pre-K through 12 education in North Texas. Education choices are not as limited as they seem, whether within traditional public schools or beyond. This will help parents of all income levels understand what choices they have and empower them to choose what is best for their children.
Solution: We want to help parents of all income levels navigate the increasingly complex landscape of choosing a school and a school district, whether within traditional public school systems or beyond.
Summary: The Salt Lake Tribune will be the first US legacy newspaper to transition to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We are also creating The Utah Journalism Foundation to provide long term support to local journalism. In doing so, we are creating a mechanism to sustain local journalism in perpetuity. Funding from GNI will accelerate our transition by building out a critical and innovative series of tools, policies and procedures. The goal of this project is to create a sustainable business model that can be adapted by other local legacy news organizations in small to mid sized markers.
Solution: Communities across the nation are losing their newspapers, tearing a hole their civic and democratic fabric. We are taking proactive, innovative and swift action to pioneer a new model so that this does not happen in Utah by becoming the first legacy newspaper in the US to transition to a nonprofit organization. By doing so, we are transforming The Salt Lake Tribune to a community institution owned, operated and working for the people of Utah. We are building this model with other communities in mind
Summary: Our goal is to address both the technical and economic challenges of unifying customer and user data for local publishers. The project aims to create a customer data management solution will combine the open source technologies Wordpress and the Apache Unomi CDP. Integrating CDP technology with the Wordpress publishing platform will enable scalable, cost-effective solutions for customer data management for publishers. The integrated Wordpress features and hooks to the CDP will be used to create valuable experiences for readers and new ways for publishers to reach specific audiences.
Solution: Local publishers have poorly integrated sources of customer and user data. Data is often hard to access from proprietary, legacy systems and disconnected databases. Unifying that data is expensive. These costs can compete with our investments in our core product, valued content. At the same time, publishers are challenged to rapidly grow digital subscription revenue through targeted and personalized reader experiences and innovative approaches to marketing. Better managed customer and user data is the key to that growth. This project will address that challenge by leveraging open source technology to build a CDP integration specifically design for local publishers.
Summary: Create a sustainable funding model for community-focused journalism outlets to amplify the needs and stories of historically underserved populations. Detour Detroit will test and quantify the success of hybrid journalist/engager roles to amplify readership, strengthen relationships with readers and grow revenue. We will track how stories, journalists and their engagement work in the community directly impact membership growth and retention. This creates a virtuous cycle of engagement and is a replicable model to reward attentive and responsive reporting. Google’s grant will fund the tech stack and tools to support this program.
Solution: For digital publications, pure audience growth is still the major benchmark of success. These metrics are unsustainable for journalists, toxic for our industry and disruptive for democracy.
We launched Detour because we believed in creating and nurturing direct relationships with readers as a revenue generator for local news producers limited by geography and scale. Now we’re asking, how can local journalists analyze which stories and acts of engagement grow loyalty and revenue? Our project attempts to value local journalists for the distinct and measurable impact they bring to the residents of our city, while giving them a direct financial stake and prioritizing the engagement efforts that are often treated as an afterthought.
Summary: The Medill Spiegel Research Center's Subscriber Engagement Index would be a new tool that would give local news organizations timely, unique, actionable insights about the online behaviors of their digital subscribers. The Index would show participating news organizations what digital subscribers are consuming on local news sites, and what's leading some to churn. This anonymized data would be shared and benchmarked in a wide array of categories so news outlets can measure their performance against their peers. Top-line findings would be shared with the journalism industry and thought leaders globally.
Solution: Many of today's reader metrics support advertising-driven business models. As the industry pivots to an increasing reliance on reader revenue, it's critical that news organizations understand subscriber behaviors. The absence of insight about subscriber behaviors creates an imperfect understanding of what those readers value and what they do. This lack of understanding is compounded by no mechanism to benchmark among peers. The Index will allow news outlets to prioritize strategies around reader retention and address behaviors causing churn.
Summary: We are developing a premium user experience for our most engaged, loyal subscribers that includes an ad-free news website, location-specific content recommendations, improved commenting and engagement tools and exclusive access to live events with our journalists.
Solution: Print circulation and revenue continue to decline a faster rate than digital revenue is growing, even with the addition of a robust digital subscription program. In order to increase our paid digital audience, we must quickly develop a first-class user experience that delivers news and information to our subscribers in creative and innovative ways.
Our solution is to build a premium subscription tier for our most engaged, loyal audiences that doubles down on local news discovery and community building and provides a VIP experience that goes beyond just unlimited online access to our great journalism.
Summary: We propose to build an open source toolkit for conversion and audience tracking that allows news organizations to quickly build an email subscriber base and an effective year-round membership program.
Solution: We aim to solve two problems: 1. Readers who have already subscribed or donated are annoyed by promotions. The Conversion Toolkit will suppress popups for readers who are current members or subscribers. 2. Small, local newsrooms don't have access to free or low-cost tools for evaluating the effectiveness of popup and email subject line messaging. We will create dashboards that enable news organizations to make data-driven, real-time decisions about what messages, tailored to local markets, most effectively convert readers to members and subscribers.
Summary: The GeoReporter project will develop a system to help editors easily source contributors of community content, make assignments and electronically pay those contributors in a streamlined digital experience, helping to cover more events in the local community.
Solution: The platform will enable us to broaden our coverage of community events, providing an easy way for trusted contributors to acquire, submit and be paid for their effort.
Summary: Our project addresses the three major issues facing local newsrooms looking to publish great audio: collection, distribution and monetization. Our toolkit includes a reporter-friendly interface that demystifies when, where and how to collect audio. It allows for quick uploading to a CMS, where the audio is tagged and conditioned to maximize discoverability and make embedding easy.
Solution: Knowing where and when to collect audio is a significant challenge for local newsrooms. Our project creates a front-end, reporter-facing interface that guides the user through the audio collection process and sends to a CMS. Most audio collected today does not include metadata, making it difficult to organize and distribute. Our system will allow for the easy addition of tags and will use semantic analysis to create rich metadata. Monetization is another significant challenge. Local businesses have a high barrier to entry for audio — our system pairs local ads with national programmatic and fills dynamically to meet impression counts.
Summary: The Interactive Story Wall is a way to visualize and explain data-driven stories on broadcast and digital platforms using a touch-screen that helps audiences better understand complex issues.
Solution: Civic health is strongly correlated with informed communities, but the rise of newspaper 'deserts' and loss of newspaper jobs puts many communities at 'information risk.' The Interactive Story Wall will enable local broadcasters to fill that void by making it possible to visualize important but complex stories.
Summary: We aim to expand data journalism from a primarily project-based and text-based activity to a mainstream, daily core of our newsrooms. To do so, we will pilot a systematic and holistic orientation around public data starting with the state of California. Evaluating the full public data ecosystem across the state will give our newsrooms unprecedented ability to extract the most important data points to deliver information in ways that can make a real difference in the lives of local consumers in hundreds of under-covered communities. We will bring the content to life on video through an innovative new “Data Studio and support the creation of hyperlocal digital news products, beginning in California.
Solution: With an increasing amount of publicly available data in our “smart cities,” it is the duty of local journalists to mine that data to discover, investigate and communicate relevant findings. Yet as the amount of public data explodes and becomes more accessible, local news deserts are becoming more prevalent. Through this project, and in service to democracy, we hope to discover and nurture a new business approach to covering community news at scale by identifying and reporting on important, need-to-know information hiding in public data.
Summary: The Membership for Broadcast Project will demonstrate that local broadcasters can develop their relationship with their digital audience into a sustainable business model that offsets expected declines in retransmission and advertising dollars. It’s a crucial lesson for local broadcasters who need to act now while they still have the resources, audience and clout to build new businesses. Local newspaper- companies waited too long and now face steep declines not only in revenue, but influence and impact. Broadcasters have time to build an audience-based revenue model through user funnels, which will allow them to maintain their leading role in local news.
Solution: Local broadcasters need to act now to secure our future as a critical news source in our communities. Retransmission fees have propped up our business model, but with forecasted declines ahead, and shifting ad dollars, we need to diversify revenue while we still have the opportunity.
With that in mind, we intend to build “Freemium-to-paid” membership programs for our local TV stations to diversify revenue and deepen audience engagement. Membership programs will move to the center of television’s strategy and become the driving force to build revenue and grow audiences everywhere.
Summary: #ThisIsTucson — a digital vertical of the Arizona Daily Star that serves more than 200,000 engaged local residents a month — will test, launch and manage a membership program to demonstrate a new, sustainable revenue stream for local news.
Solution: Local journalism needs a diversified revenue strategy to support the important work of covering our communities. With disruption in print and digital advertising and shrinking subscriptions, local news is caught in the middle of massive changes in the way people get and pay for information.
This grant will allow the Arizona Daily Star to test, launch and manage a local membership program for #ThisIsTucson, proving that a membership revenue model, more often seen in the non-profit news world, is viable in a midsize news market at a legacy newspaper.
Summary: BackerTap gives news organizations' most passionate readers the inside story by letting them sign up for exclusive documents, analysis, and other bonus materials that go beyond the headlines. It will also harness the enthusiasm for journalism that makes a difference, making it a more rewarding experience to donate, subscribe, or help share the stories that matter knowing that support is going directly towards original reporting.
Solution: Paywalls and advertising are generally a one-size-fits-all solution, when the reality is some readers won't be able to get enough of some stories — and are interested in ways to directly offer their support above and beyond a normal subscription or the ad revenue from a single pageview. Meanwhile, local news organizations often have the fewest resources to manage membership programs or invest in technology. BackerTap will make it easy and rewarding for both publications and readers to participate in topic specific membership programs.
Summary: Lookout Local Community Partners Plan employs state-of-the-art tech to connect two big dots in the development of local news media for the 2020s: reader revenue through membership and authentic digital and physical connection with those most involved in civic life. We empower a new level of community connection with our readers and create a flywheel effect, generating journalism-building dollars membership more quickly.
Solution: Membership sales are fundamental to new local news growth. Sold individually, they can work well with considerable effort on the part of the publisher. Augmenting single sales with group sales — through earned, ongoing relationships with civic groups -- will accelerate membership adoption and improve retention.
Summary: We’re going to simplify the development of podcast advertising creative assets to accelerate revenue growth in podcasting. We’ll do this by building a platform for purchasing podcast ad impressions and utilizing Google’s natural language processing & AI to automate the production of advertising creative for podcasts. Local, regional, and national businesses and their agencies will be able to easily create podcast specific creative and place targeted ad buys to local podcast audiences.
Solution: Most advertisers have radio creative though research shows that announcer read podcast ads are preferred by listeners and more effective for advertisers. At the same time, it's difficult for local advertisers to buy podcast advertising with scale. We'll build the tools to enable advertisers, business owners, and agencies, to easily upload copy points to instantly create an announcer read ad using natural language processing then place a targeted ad to reach podcast listeners in local and national podcasts.
Summary: WBUR, Boston’s NPR News Station, will embark on a project aimed at enabling public radio listeners to interact and transact with live local news content, using their voice, while driving their car. By partnering with emerging tech mobile developers, WBUR’s BizLab – an innovation lab developing and testing new models of support for public radio – will extend the listening experience of its existing WBUR Listen app to enable donations, transactions, and paid sponsorship within the context of listening to the station’s live broadcast.
Solution: The convergence of on-demand audio, voice-enabled speakers, and connected cars poses a significant disruption to the current public radio revenue models, which rely upon on-air pledge drives and corporate underwriting. WBUR will create voice-enabled mobile experiences that support transactions within a connected car, for the first time connecting the experience of listening in your car to interacting and transacting directly with your public radio station. To do this, WBUR will extend its mobile app to include prompts to take action related to the live audio content, laying the groundwork for frictionless donations and purchases as well as alternative sponsorship models.
Summary: The Voice Brief Tool streamlines the creation of a human curated and read news brief for use on audio assistants and streaming platforms.
Solution: Many medium to small newsrooms don’t have the staff, expertise or equipment to create and record news scripts that are suited for audio.
The Voice Brief Tool makes it easy to summarize stories for voice delivery and with built in recording capabilities a human read audio news brief can quickly be created and distributed.
Summary: NABUR will establish a responsible, curated neighborhood social media platform for communities served by Wick newspapers that encourages geographic connections through healthy discourse, cultivating relevant story ideas, and periodically bringing members together in real life (IRL) for events and discussions.
Through our Arizona (Tucson, Ariz.) and Midwestern (Fergus Falls, Minn.) pilot program bureaus, four journalism product managers will coordinate discussions, conduct experiments in news coverage, and organize events across six communities. The neighborhood platform will provide support for our journalism and community outreach efforts, not serve as a replacement for them.
Solution: As documented through recent research and news coverage - as well as our own pilot usability testing - social media platforms are generating more questions than answers, and the technology companies behind them have not been successful in generating trusting relationships.
By allowing trained journalists to lead the platform and technology decisions, we will ensure the values of trust, accountability, and accuracy are leading the conversation, and not being limited by the platform features.
Social media focuses purely on the “who,” “what,” “where,” and “when” of journalism. We intend to demonstrate the value of addressing the “why” and the “how.”
Summary: Community News Connect is a collaborative local news platform that allows residents to partner with newsrooms to strengthen news coverage and amplify diverse voices. Community members would request coverage. Participating newsrooms would accept those requests, choosing to report on them individually or collaborate with other newsrooms. If newsrooms have interest in a topic but not the capacity to cover it, they could request micro-funding assistance from residents or community organizations. The platform would give local newsrooms a much-needed tool for tracking how well they are addressing the needs of segments of the community.
Solution: People of color and other underserved communities have long felt ignored or misportrayed by the media. The crisis in local news (as many newsrooms shut down or cut back staffing) has only exacerbated this problem. Dwindling resources and struggling business models have widened the gap between local news needs and media companies’ ability to address them. The project will give residents access to journalists and the reporting process, helping them drive coverage and building trust. It also will provide journalists with access to sources and ideas beyond their normal reach, thus improving their reporting and having more impact on issues.
Summary: Three nonprofit news organizations will join forces to use innovative technology and research techniques to discover the information needs of residents of the poorest neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, investigate their most pressing issues and deliver accountability journalism to the residents, as well as the broader public and policymakers across the nation.
News414 will draw upon the expertise of Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, based at Marquette University with deep roots in the city’s underserved neighborhoods; Outlier Media, which aims to fill information gaps and increase accountability; and Wisconsin Watch, which holds power to account and distributes its content for free to hundreds of news organizations nationwide.
Solution: News414 seeks to engage residents of underserved Milwaukee neighborhoods in interactive public service journalism. It will equip residents with information they need to advocate for a better quality of life from their government and elected officials, and to better navigate the existing system. The information — both “news you can use” and in-depth pieces exploring the causes of problems plaguing these neighborhoods — will be texted directly to residents' cell phones for free. Subscribers to the texting service will become crucial sources of news tips and on-the-ground information. It is expected that easy access to relevant news through text messaging will create a better informed and more engaged community.
Summary: ITVS will help local public media stations use a new feedback platform to better serve, engage, and gain support from communities of color. Starting with five stations that are collaborating with ITVS on local content and civic participation strategies centered on criminal justice issues. ITVS will test and develop a model with the potential for national scale, serving public media’s diversity mission and local stations’ need to expand their revenue bases through increased membership.
Solution: Communities of color struggle to connect to local public media stations for varying reasons: lack of newsroom representation; lack of compelling, resonant, unbiased content; outsider engagement and marketing strategies. As a result, stations miss opportunities to serve viewers, win audiences, or/and earn financial support through new memberships.
Summary: La Noticia Audience Portal, is a pay-for-service model celebrations portal for user-generated content. This portal will allow Latino families to share with the broader community, beautiful pictures and descriptions of family life celebrations such as: Births, Baptism, Weddings, Quinceañeras and Community celebrations.
- Due to revenue decline, local newspapers no longer can give Latino families an opportunity to share family celebrations and community events for free.
- Our readers love to share family celebrations with the broader community. However, they now have fewer local options to do this.
Solution: La Noticia, with its avid, statewide audience of 30,000 unique readers a month is well-positioned to offer the solution to these families by providing them with La Noticia Audience Portal, where they can now continue to share their family celebrations for a small fee.
Summary: In the past few years, thousands of big cities, small towns and counties across America have started streaming video of public meetings online. But for the average citizen, keeping track of these meetings remains time-consuming and difficult. The Michigan Radio Public Meeting Tracker will make the content of these meetings easier to access. We’ll pull audio from meetings and make it available on podcast feeds and smart speakers, and we’ll use speech-to-text transcription to create a new database of meeting transcripts that newsrooms can use to track issues across communities.
Solution: According to Pew Research, 87% of local news consumers believe government issues are important or interesting. But only 30% say it’s easy to stay informed. As local newsrooms continue to face financial pressures, tracking local government issues will become even more of a challenge.
Our tool will automate the process of generating audio and transcripts from meeting videos posted online. Audiences will be able to access meeting content more conveniently, through podcast feeds and smart speakers. Journalists will have a more efficient way to track what happens in meetings, through a database of transcripts that’s constantly updated.
Summary: Using machine learning, this project will build a predictive analytics tool to help editors determine which of hundreds of staff-written stories are best suited for homepage positions on local news sites. Essentially, it will help us focus our homepage presentation based on the reading habits of our homepage users.
Solution: Homepage audiences have different reading patterns than search engine and social media audiences. The audience is comparatively small but it tends to be made up of local, loyal readers who make the best subscribers. We want to produce better sites for homepage readers by using more powerful tech for analysis and predictions.
Summary: Okayplayer began 20 years ago as a community of messageboard users bonding over similar interests in music, culture and politics. For two decades, we’ve been a publication serving the needs and interests of that community. Okayplayer's Investigative Reporting Platform is the next step in that tradition, a new way of funding quality reporting in places underserved by traditional media. Our model will empower local communities to direct their limited resources at journalism designed to shine light on opaque issues and bring accountability to local institutions.
Solution: Local newspapers across America are closing and rigorous local journalism is being replaced by streams of unverified information spread rapidly via social media. Using crowdfunding and digital tipping technology, Okayplayer's Investigative Reporting Platform will harness the power of online movements for justice and accountability into a funding model that will support a network of investigative journalists embedded in the communities that they cover. We see it as a model that other digital publications can adopt to connect paying audiences to content that matters to them.
Summary: We will design and build a technology platform, with related services, that effectively matches the right journalism-funding entity with the right news organization and project, and ensure successful program execution. Accelerate Local will become the premier source and enabler of journalism funding in North America, and possibly the world in the longer term. This will produce more and better local reporting, which in turn will enable local media organizations to better meet the information needs of the communities they serve.
Solution: Local news organization reporting resources are diminishing, rapidly in some markets. Yet, market research shows that consumers are highly interested and engaged in enterprise reporting, especially investigative reporting.
There is no common platform today that provides an easy-to-use, open process for news organizations to identify potential journalism funding organizations and efficiently apply for them, while also providing funders/grantors with direct, easy access to credentialed news organizations that are top candidates to execute on grants that they are funding.
The Solution: LMA’s News Grant Match-Making Platform, combining our listings databases, matching algorithms, workflow communication and advisory services.
Summary: The Lenfest Local Lab and The Philadelphia Inquirer will create partially-automated newsletters serving targeted Philadelphia-area neighborhoods. The newsletters will include a mix of editorial content, public data, and other automated information that will empower residents to stay informed and connect with their neighbors. The project will also explore new forms of community collaboration and revenue on a neighborhood level. Targeted community newsletters will give local businesses the opportunity to connect with more residents, and also amplify the services and information that community groups already offer on a hyperlocal level.
Solution: It’s challenging for residents to find reliable, consistent and trustworthy sources of community news and information outside of the noisy stream of social media. Our project will leverage automation and partnerships with existing hyperlocal publications and community groups to give neighborhood residents one place to find the information they care about. The newsletters will feature nearby things to do with family and friends, news stories and analysis about the area, local data that ties to neighborhood lifestyle, safety and health, as well as be a place for community members to ask questions and get honest answers about pressing issues.
Summary: Local news is broken. Crosstown is trying to fix it -- through data. We deliver community-level data to the people of Los Angeles who want to make their neighborhoods and city safer, healthier and more connected. Our GNI project will create a specialized news product -- such as a newsletter -- targeted to each neighborhood in Los Angeles.
Solution: We are trying to prove that there is a financially sustainable model for local news that helps residents stay more connected and engaged.
Summary: The Beacon, based in Kansas City, plans to launch in 2020, focusing on in-depth journalism in both Kansas and Missouri. It will be the first of its kind in the region to focus on a nonprofit news membership model outside of public radio/TV. This project will focus on the necessary steps to define and engage our unique audience for long-term sustainability, identify and build relationships with other civic engagement players, and create a forum for discussion of news and engagement with our audience.
Solution: Like local news ecosystems across the U.S., the Midwest has suffered massive cutbacks. Robust audience development around membership is sorely needed to ensure growth and sustainability.
One nonprofit model is a free core product subsidized by membership. Who are members? What makes them engaged? And what is the tipping point for them to pay for journalism?
In addition to identifying audiences and measuring their engagement, we will survey the civic engagement infrastructure in Kansas and Missouri. We will also research a “hub and spoke” model (central news organization based in a larger metro, with correspondents in more rural areas).
Summary: Connecting with the local audience is increasingly becoming difficult due to the increased availability of news sources. In rural and remote environments, this availability of local news is limited but complicated due to the vast geographic area covered and limited connectivity, along with a distrust of media in delivering unbiased news. How do publishers connect with the local audience in the way they want to be communicated with, with the news they need and want?
Solution: This will develop recommendations and tools to help other rural media operations connect with their audience and develop trust in the news that is delivered. It will provide guidance for other small and rural journalists that will help them build trust with their audience and find ways to reach their remote and rural audiences better.
Summary: As audiences grow and change, so does the type and scope of local news and information they need to stay informed. The mediums and methods they use to find and access information also changes. This established news source in small markets across the Canadian prairies will complete a formal research study in three specific test markets, to develop a greater understanding of the news and information needs, and identify opportunities in coverage in the communities served. It will be looking for population segments that are underserved, new and innovative content delivery methods, and how to provide on-demand content in a timely manner.
Solution: Golden West wants to identify significant segments of the population in three distinct local communities, to understand opportunities to improve content coverage and delivery methods. It is particularly interested in discovering cohorts whose needs and interests are not being sufficiently met. In an environment of information overload, delivering the right information to the right person at the right time is critical for true comprehension, understanding, and satisfaction. Based on research results, solutions could include broadening content categories, introducing new ways of serving content, and fostering local journalism and increasing exposure for local contributors.
Summary: Community news outlets in Ontario, and across Canada, have historically provided little or superficial coverage of Indigenous peoples. Attempts to change this have failed for an amalgam of reasons, perhaps foremost among them a failure by the media to put in the time to make meaningful connections and build trust required to produce meaningful and comprehensive content. Through in-person consultation with Indigenous peoples in their communities, they will be able to make those meaningful connections, build trust and begin to understand what stories we should tell and how they should be told.
Solution: Through dedicated sections on its websites, Metroland will amplify the voices and tell the stories of 20 First Nations reserves as well as urban Indigenous populations in Ontario. This project seeks to address a deficiency in news coverage of and for Indigenous peoples, and advance the fractured relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples through education and information. The project will honour Indigenous tradition and values, and storytelling will be at its heart. Storytelling reflects the best of what community journalism is: a focus on people, their achievements, their struggles, their concerns and hopes for the future.
Summary: How can Metro Media, as an independent and credible information channel, more effectively share essential information with citizens, particularly hard-to-reach communities? The Metropolis 2022 project will identify possible solutions to enable the media to better meet the information needs of communities. A data-enhanced design thinking approach will be applied to the project.
Solution: To solve the problem, the approach Metro Media proposes combines design thinking and data analysis. This allows them to combine the various qualitative activities of design thinking with quantitative methods to validate the set of hypotheses that may emerge from the design process but also to bring new insights.
Summary: Réseau.Presse has a network of 24 local media in 8 provinces and 3 territories across Canada. These vital local media are geographically dispersed and serve many Francophone minority communities. The sudden shift from traditional to digital marketing has weakened them, leaving them without the resources to update their content and business model to the needs and expectations of their readership, their community and their advertisers. The “Research Center” project aims to bridge this gap between readers and publishers by synchronizing the interests of the former with the journalistic content of the latter.
Solution: The “Research Centre on the Francophone Minority Communities’ Interests” project responds to an important challenge for the local print media serving these communities: the research and identification of content of interest to the readership. The project’s main objective is to obtain and compile data that will allow newsrooms and journalists to match topics of interest to the expectations and needs of their readership. This initiative will directly contribute to broadening and retaining readership, better respond to the needs and interests of Francophone minority communities, and attract a greater variety and number of advertisers to ensure not only the viability, but the profitability of these print media. /p>
Summary: Le Devoir wants to extend the reach of its brand of strong authoritative journalism. The focus on the past few years has been on improving and diversifying the content offer. It fuelled a strong digital subscriptions growth. Since January 2021, it had hit a plateau and requires many more subscribers to remain a sustainable business. Underrepresented communities represent a fertile pool of future subscribers and so Le Devoir wants to understand what messaging and delivery system will help them bring their value proposition to these new audiences. In order to generate stronger growth in the future, it wants to make it as diverse as possible.
Solution: Stronger and more sustainable growth can and will be achieved by reaching and engaging with a more diverse range of readers, including LGBTQ2+ communities, members of First Nations and visible minorities who might not see themselves reflected in traditional media. It wants to better understand who the readers are, and what value they assign to Le Devoir. Additionally: what is the trigger that gets them to move from being readers to becoming subscribers. Leveraging this knowledge will reach more communities.
Summary: La Converse aims to serve Francophone marginalized people in Canada. Our objective is to conduct action-research allowing it to better serve these communities that aren't heard. Journalism aiming at marginalized communities often feels extractive and rarely results in change for them.
Solution: La Converse has been sending out surveys through their newsletters and noticed the same people answering, who are privileged in their marginality. The underserved people it is trying to reach do not have the time and luxury to fill a survey or don't understand why they should in the first place. Now it will build spaces to engage with the people it wants to reach while respecting their realities and lifestyles.
Summary: The Journalism Representation Index (JeRI) uses AI to analyze news stories by weighing power, in-story placement and frequency of the sources in text to deliver an index score to newsrooms and readers. Ryerson University researchers, working with FP Canadian Newspapers Limited Partnership (FPLP), publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press, are developing this journalistic-source-based accountability tool to help FPLP newspapers build trust with their readers and engage new, traditionally underrepresented audiences.
Solution: Trust in journalism is eroding and historically, news reporting favours institutions of power. How do we ensure journalism effectively reflects the voices of citizens and change makers? JeRI underlines structural inequity and generates actionable data to improve news coverage of traditionally marginalized communities. In the face of increasing revenue challenges, JeRI aims to help FPLP grow audiences by engaging new readers. It will shine a light on reporting that is well-sourced and equitably represents marginalized people, re-establishing trust and improving coverage of Indigenous communities and other underrepresented groups.
Summary: The IIJ Data Hub is a secure, user-friendly repository of documents, data, maps, responses to access to information requests and other materials acquired over the course of award-winning national investigations. The hub will serve as a knowledge base for hundreds of member journalists, sharing document catalogues, at-a-glance data visualizations, and other tools, training and best practices. It will also connect to resources provided by industry associations and innovation hubs at universities and colleges nationwide. The public-facing platform will offer researchers, students, and members of the public access to archives from previous investigations.
Solution: The IIJ Data Hub will help us to support local and national news organizations, particularly those serving small markets and minority audiences. These outlets are essential to a functioning democracy, sharing the work of journalists who have deep roots in their communities, yet many don’t have the means to carry out investigative work. This hub will empower reporters to join our regional and national communities of journalists and access our resources.
Summary: The Reader Bridge is designed to help diversify, engage, build and sustain our readership, in large part by delivering stories and potential readers from underserved racialized communities. The Reader Bridge will provide the opportunity for readers to participate in Winnipeg Free Press’ journalism in a direct way; to ask specific questions they need answering, to flag both problems and success in their communities we should be reporting on, to offer perspectives and expertise otherwise lacking in our coverage; and to build a relationship with our organization built on mutual respect so we can be trusted to tell more diverse stories.
Solution: The future depends on growing a more diverse subscriber base that better reflects the increasingly diverse population of Manitoba. The Winnipeg Free Press Reader Bridge is the path to build to get the stories that connect with new audiences to deliver the understanding and the connections that will enable continuation of funding for the independent journalism the city and province demands. The deeper the connection developed with the readership, the more loyal they will be, and the more willing they will be to sustain the digital future.
Summary: The Canadian Press aims to build out a Digital Data Desk to take advantage of two emerging trends in journalism: access to data and the use of AI to create content from that data. D3 will change CP in fundamental, necessary ways. It will update our culture to become fully digital. It will introduce new storytelling tools and a new breed of journalist. It will expand our market beyond the troubled traditional news industry. And it will allow us to operate at scale, generating bespoke solutions for customers that can range from hyperlocal to global.
Solution: The D3 will have a significant impact on the depth and breadth of local news generated in Canada. This comes at a time when smaller newsrooms -- short on both resources and time -- are struggling just to report the basics. A key focus of our data gathering will be public data sets from all levels of government as well as national-level NGOs, research institutes and academia. Using both human and algorithmic analysis, we will find patterns in those data sets, determine what news stories can be told about them, and generate content as a result.
Summary: Earbank News Exchange is helping news broadcasters and journalists to turn their audio assignments and archives into a new source of revenue.
Earbank is creating a marketplace for remote news audio assignments. We’re building tools to help journalists automatically organize their news audio clips and make them searchable on the Internet. We’re also making it possible for broadcasters to earn money by selling licenses for the news soundbites in their archives to audio buyers such as documentary producers, podcasters, and educational publishers.
Solution: Local news broadcasters record hours of valuable news clips and soundbites each day; however, not all of this content is saved for future use, because the broadcasters do not have the resources to archive their audio or the tools to monetize this content.
Earbank is developing a platform that makes it easier for broadcasters and journalists to archive their news audio clips and soundbites, make the content searchable on the Internet, and earn money by selling licenses for these clips to audio buyers such as documentary producers, podcasters, and educational publishers.
Summary: Village Media seeks to trigger a network effect within our community news platform by enabling and encouraging both Readers and Advertisers to connect on a one-to-one and a one-to-many basis with other members of their geographical community of interest.
These User connections enable Village Media to distinguish Readers and Advertisers by status, creating a community network in which members can wear many hats (i.e. concerned citizen, ambitious business owner, passionate volunteer, bargain hunter, local expert, etc.).
Solution: Today, most readers take a predominantly vertical path into and out of a local news site. They come in for a certain type of content, they consume that content, and they share it, comment on it, and/or leave. A tremendous amount of engagement takes place outside the local news sites, in particular, within social networks.
Village Media will create a platform for social interaction between community members within our local news environment. The presence of local businesses within that environment ensures that any growth in User activity will directly impact the local economic base.
Each type of interaction positively impacts revenue and engagement (traffic), and also makes the site more useful, relevant and interesting to the User.
Summary: Project Local Pulse is a digital-only product that combines quality local news with a community hub. In a world in which print news products are in decline, Torstar is looking to develop a sustainable new platform to maximize reader engagement through combining Torstar’s powerful news brands with deep community content. Critical to success is that this be truly local – strengthening the role of the local newspaper as the community's digital gathering place.
Solution: One of the unsolved problems of journalism in 2019 concerns providing quality service for local news in an economically sustainable and scalable manner. While larger, national news sources are seeing success with subscription models, the community news model remains challenging. Project Local Pulse aims to re-invigorate community discourse and showcase the full range of diverse voices and interests in each community. Project Local Pulse will be driven by local people, feature local content and help local businesses reach relevant audiences.