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 108 recipients of our first GNI Innovation Challenges in Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Middle East, Turkey & Africa and North America representing 39 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: This project will boost technological development in cooperative and non for profit news organizations in Argentina to develop their membership revenue model. We will develop a comprehensive journalism funding system that will understand audience behavior patterns and engage with their interests. A fully automatic engine will identify users and run targeted campaigns to promote their membership. This product will integrate a paywall platform, a payment system and a CRM. It will offer a complete solution to business model limitations for small news outlets. After the implementation in Tiempo, we will develop a prototype available for other cooperative or non for profit orgs.
Solution: This project will shorten the gap between commercial media and cooperative news outlets by providing the core technological solutions that any cooperative or non for profit organization needs in order to carry out a news organization funded by a membership model. By doing that it will also bring plurality to the Argentinian media landscape and promote journalism driven by public interest. This kind of product is impossible to afford for any cooperative news outlet since these organizations don’t have financial resources to hire or retain programmers, designers nor the UX research team required. Therefore their chances to compete in a highly concentrated media landscape are very low.
Summary: Subscription Accelerator for News is a comprehensive solution that seeks to enhance news digital subscriptions through a propensity index (News Propensity Index, NPI) by linking users to content through multiple channels in real time.
This tool is a cutting-edge solution for the news ecosystem that can inspire other media so that our entire market optimizes resources and focuses its efforts on the user's perspective.
Solution: Our current transition from an editorial business model based mainly on digital advertising towards a model based primarily on audiencie’s revenue is slow and non-automated processes. It is difficult to make an intelligent and agile use of our data in order to make decisions and execute commercial and editorial strategies that accelerate the process of acquisition and retention of subscribers.
Subscription Accelerator for News (SAN) is an engine for subscriptions to profile audiences and content in real time.
Through artificial intelligence technologies, our tool will build a propensity index (NPI) that connects potential subscribers with content of their interest.
Summary: Develop an open source, easy-to-use and free micro-payment network for media companies of any size to pay for and synergize long-form content, aimed to mobile readers.
Solution: To find an alternative method of monetization for producers of journalistic material that allows them to make quality content and generate a revenue stream that complements advertising and subscriptions.
The solution is to create our “Micropayment Gateway for Content Network”, through which media companies, freelance journalists and bloggers can monetize their content using a micropayment method that does not force readers to register or pay long-term subscriptions. With this system, media could monetize 98% of readers who are not able to pay for subscriptions, journalists find a new way of income and readers pay only for the content they consume.
Summary: Smart Membership Project is a data-driven engagement strategy to fuel paid members conversion and retention. It aims to identify, track and promote the activities that creates engagement and converts membership. We’ll center our approach in a product that delivers call-to-action messages embedded across our platforms and products and track them to understand the optimal funnel. We are building our journalism practice around participation so we want to better understand and handle all those call-to-action in order to better serve our audience and build a more robust and data-driven customer journey, from bumping into our content in social media to membership conversion.
Solution: How can you take your audience by the hand in their funnel journey from following a social account to membership conversion? How to understand news consumption and participation patterns so that we can predict and identify the triggers that have the potential to drive new members into our subscription plans? The Smart Membership Project will allow us to work with segments so to design, track, understand and adjust best engagement actions (action buttons, polls, open questions, etc.) towards creating paid memberships.
Summary: Archive Intelligence is a service that leverages machine learning to bring the historical news archive from any news organization back to life. By connecting their CMS to a straightforward API, journalists will be able to retrieve connections between any story, person or organization ever mentioned on their publication and the audience will get more relevant suggestions of related articles and trends to better understand the ongoing development of news stories.
Solution: Relevant articles recommendation and the ongoing usage of past stories in new reporting is an ongoing problem that every news organization faces on a daily basis. By using machine learning to link every person, organization or topic mentioned in the news archive, the opportunities for innovation are endless. To name just a few:
- News personalization based on readers interests for paying members.
- Article recommendations based on content relevance.
- Dynamic tagging and categorization of news.
- Personalized notifications triggered by mentions in the news
And many others that will come from using the Archive Intelligence software.
Summary: “Zoltar News” (ZN) is a predictor of reading interests, based on models of artificial intelligence and Machine Learning. There are many content recommenders platforms on the market and most follow the same logic: recommend based on what we already read almost inbreeding, or based on our navigation history, what other similar users read, etc. Our goal is to create the first recommender built by a medium that links Big Data, IA/Machine Learning, Commercial, Product and Writing teams. This gives a unique value in the market and for the users.
Solution: The most innovative aspect of the project is that, unlike other content recommendation engines, we will try to predict by means of Artificial Intelligence engines, what content or topics might be of interest to the user. We will not rely solely on the browsing history of the anonymous or logged-in user, or even just of users similar to the user who is browsing. We will take all this information, we will add the analysis of historical or current readings of the contents of the site, we will add analysis of propensity - affinity, activity in social networks and others. Last but not least, this tool will have to be prepared to learn from all users, incorporate their behaviors, receive feedback from our journalists, learn, learn, learn.
Summary: Globo[ONE] is about personalizing and delivering to each of our readers a unique, one-to-one experience. To do so, we will create and combine, with the help of AI tools, new editorial and marketing strategies that will better meet the needs of our consumers.
This tailored experience will create more engaged readers every step of the way, in every part of the consumers’ journey, thereby accelerating the growth of digital subscribers and creating a new sustainable business model that will be a game changer for us and for the industry as a whole.
Solution: How do we accelerate the growth of digital subscribers? O Globo’s current subscriptions growth rate—despite being the highest among newspapers in Brazil—is still insufficient.
Although our digital distribution is nationwide and proportionally similar to that of the Brazilian internet audience, we are still not able to maintain the same distribution rate once users advance into the conversion funnel.
Our goal of increasing engagement is intimately related to the personalization of our user experience. We are confident that this project will enable us to replicate the same advantages we already have regarding our reach to other metrics.
Summary: “Refinaria de histórias” presents a new business model for funding journalism while also taking piauí’s stories to the millions of people that subscribe to Video on Demand platforms. A team of preeminent journalists and audiovisual professionals will adapt piauí’s stories into “TV Bibles” for minisseries, fiction films and documentaries. These bibles mark the first step in the development of an audiovisual project: they contain format, tone, character guidelines, as well as script treatments for each story. The “TV Bibles” will then be sold to streaming platforms such as Netflix—thus generating a new steady income to finance piauí’s journalism.
Solution: The business model that sustained journalism over the last century has been exhausted. We have created an alternative model that meets—in a new way—the increasing demand for content in the Video on Demand market. We will not only sell the intellectual property rights of the magazine’s stories, but also engage our team of journalists, screenwriters, and film directors into the actual development process of these audiovisual narratives. As in the oil industry, the more refined the pitch is, the greater its value becomes. Refining piauí’s original stories into “TV Bibles” will increase their value up to five times.
Summary: Conceived by the Desenrola e Não me Enrola, Alma Preta, Historiorama, Preto Império e Periferia em Movimento communication collectives, the Info Território project creates a media platform that distributes journalistic content in peripheral territories of the city of São Paulo where it is not yet available, connecting readers with offline and online information.
The initiative has adopted a sustainable business model for city journalism organizations, with a content and application monetization plan for Digital Totem that is allowed at strategic points in companies.
- Construct a narrative of the peripheries with online and offline journalistic content of the collective;
- Distribute relevant content in high-circulation places on the periphery of internal media;
- Develop business model for the sustainability of the collective by advertising, generating new markets for advertisers interested in dialog with classes C, D and E;
- Qualify content production by automating public data collection
- Create indicators of public behavior, check them with the information collected in the territory.
- Create online / offline content distribution platform by segmenting news distribution by territory;
- Install totems with digital displays in the vicinity;
Summary: REC will be a web system open source for capturing audio and videos from tv or radio broadcasts. After capture, journalist can edit video and distribute the same media on any video platforms or social medias. Metadata management will also be unique!
Solution: Bandeirantes Media Group journalists need to make VODs available as quickly as possible on our websites, apps and social media. Today this work is done by different teams (websites x social medias) and this process needs to be optimized. The solution found is to develop a proprietary platform that captures the signal from our 7 television channels and 5 radios and transforms it into digital media. The journalist can define what content he wants to distribute and on which platform.
Summary: Women in Progress will monitor how Brazilian Congress behaves towards women rights. The tool will develop databases to measure how the Congressmen and women have been voting since they were elected and the impacts of the bills they have proposed. We will monitor projects with the help of robots, data analysis and partnerships with NGOs. We will also create statistical parameters that assess whether parliamentarians have voted in favor of women's rights and rank them through data-visualization tools. A website dedicated to the project will gather this tools and provide special reports that will link investigative journalism, technology and data journalism. Newsletters will gather the information and data brought by these tools.
Solution: Big companies are usually the only ones that can afford hiring teams or private consultancy firms. They have money, structures, tools and human resources dedicated to using legal and legitimate methods to manage their interests in the Congress. This leaves NGO's, institutes or smaller private companies poorly informed about how parliamentarians vote and how bills progresses.
Data, information, time and analysis are crucial for those interested in quality journalism, advocacy and even marketing campaigns.
This project will facilitate and boost advocacy for women's rights and reduce difficulty and time consuming needs for reporters and editors to follow the complicated and sometimes hidden ways bills progress in the Congress.
Summary: Radar do Congresso is an innovative tool that establishes a new viable business model for independent journalism, creating an array of services and exclusive content for those who desire precise, broad and up-to-date information about frantic Brazilian politics. This is a project put together by Congresso em Foco. Founded in 2004, it is the first news website in Brazil dedicated to cover the National Congress.
Solution: Brazilian National Congress data, although available on official portals, is scattered and hard to find, making it almost inaccessible to non-specialists. So we are about to build, feed and maintain the largest database in the country of federal parliamentarians, in an economic, rational and replicable way on a national scale (in Legislative Assemblies and Municipal Councils with APIs involving similar experiences) and internationally.
Summary: CruzaGrafos is an open-source graphing tool to allow crosschecks and advanced data investigations. Abraji (the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism) will use CruzaGrafos to expose the relationships between different entities (persons and companies), even if they appear in different databases in our data repositories. For example, it will be possible to explore visually all the connections between a politician and its campaign donors, companies owned by him, business partners, contractors paid with public funds etc.
Solution: We have a lot of open data in Brazil, but often journalists don't have the necessary skills to analyze it. What the Abraji Dados/CruzaGrafos will do is to group the main Brazilian databases in an accessible way, so that journalists, whether with initial or advanced skill levels in data analysis, can carry out various investigations. It will be possible to explore the data with graphs, using CruzaGrafos, a tool that will allow even novice users to make complex data crosscheckings and analysis.
Summary: Radar Aos Fatos is a service focused on companies, NGOs, universities and news outlets that need to understand and keep track of the evolution of misinformation campaigns on social media. Aos Fatos will scale its automation projects to tackle misinformation by providing premium access to two products: 1. a dashboard through which it will be possible to oversee, in real/almost real time, what are the most popular, engaging, shared and searched pieces of misinformation nationwide; 2. weekly reports on dis/misinformation trends and campaigns.
Solution: Radar Aos Fatos' purpose is to display interactively what's trending on popular misinformation/low level content profiles, websites, pages and communities though a smart dashboard and premium reports. With the growing sophistication of false and misleading content on open and closed platforms, it is imperative to understand how broad and pervasive are mis/disinformation campaigns in the opinion making process. In order to make better decisions, companies that require situation analysis, risk advice and a better understanding of how mis/disinformation have a role on public opinion and the political agenda would rely on Aos Fatos' products. Also, Aos Fatos expects a positive impact in its own mis/disinformation coverage.
Summary: This project proposes to develop an easy to use automated fact check system, to be embedded in media outlets or other services, in order to give every citizen the power to identify whether a piece of content is true or was created to spread lies.
Solution: In a world where the so-called fake news disseminates in a high speed, there is a limit in fact-check services capacity to deal with the situation. The association between journalism and computing has been studied as one of the ways to combat this disinformation ecosystem. Confere.ai is an automated fact-checking system that uses artificial intelligence to create a culture of fighting misinformation among the common citizen.
Summary: In Brazil, tax cases amount to US$ 1 trillion. With such high stakes, Brazil's tax appeals court (Carf) decisions affect citizens, businesses and the state itself. Besides, major tax reform is on the way. More than ever, Brazil is desperate for a predictable tax system.
While tax lawsuit data is available, it's not properly used: there is no systematic monitoring, predictive modeling, or data-based articles. This is what we plan to do: combine journalism and data science to make the most of Carf data and provide our audience with a dedicated tool that will analyze Carf cases and predict outcomes.
Solution: Despite the high interest in tax issues in Brazil, access to public information is difficult and relies on unfriendly interfaces. We want to create a single platform to offer all the information needed about past Carf decisions, as we were the first to collect and classify all information from Carf trials and court precedents. In addition, the platform will use machine learning algorithms to estimate the likelihood of victory or defeat in ongoing and future cases. Together with our data science initiative, we will have our editorial team adding insights that robots can't.
Summary: The objective of this project is to attract young readers by offering a high engaging rewarding system of information consumption through a Gamification model. By using gamification, which could be a new way to engage users with content, we focus on helping the readers to further develop their knowledge and critical view of the world.
Solution: This project aims to improve political and electoral debate across universities, especially aimed at 18-24 youngsters, by providing up to 1 year of free subscription.
Such initiative should boost their participation and news consumption.
All “new subscribers” eligible to the program will receive monthly milestones (number of articles read, frequency of visits, time spent on site, etc) that will result in a final user score. Those above the defined minimum score will gain one more month of subscription, process that should be repeatable for up to 12 months.
Summary: Reload is a shared video newsroom that uses content produced by Agencia Publica, Agencia Lupa, Reporter Brasil, Congresso em Foco, Ponte Jornalismo, Énois, Colabora, Marco Zero Conteúdo, O Eco and Nova Escola.
It is disruptive in many ways. It aims to study and engage Brazilian youth with high quality news content; it will create the first ever collaborative video newsroom shared by 10 outlets; and it will provide intelligence to such organizations, strengthening the online news landscape in Brazil.
Reload aims to build on organizations’ experiences to fulfill its goal: find out how can young adults care about the news.
Solution: The proponent organizations view the urban youth as a potential audience that is yet to embrace the news industry in Brazil. Different from other relevant countries such as Mexico and the United States, the journalistic initiatives in Brazil geared towards the urban youth are few and small, and do not make intensive use of video, the utmost language that is being consumed by the youth.
There is one reason why Brazilian Youtubers have become such a strong influence on young adults: legacy news brands, even TVs, do not invest in engaging this audience for the consumption of news.
Summary: Reveniu helps to turn your audience and fans into paying donors, members, or subscribers; build a lasting community of supporters.
Solution: Obtaining and managing online memberships, donations and subscriptions in Latin America is a technological, financial and administrative headache.
This is especially the case for small and medium news organizations and independent journalists that don't have resources to invest upfront in tech solutions nor teams dedicated to convert audience and fans into a community of supporters.
Even when they do solve technological and bureaucratic issues, the task can be uphill because the available technology is not enough to get people to give money and engage with them. Reveniu provides a quick and easy way to start receiving money, communicate with communities, and track progress toward revenue growth.
Summary: With this self-service portal project, we want to offer our customers an innovative, agile, and automated way to acquire ads on our sites. Our goal is to meet the needs of advertisers and agencies through a single portal that provides payment gateway services, self-service ,and 24/7 ad monitoring.
Solution: Developing a portal in which SMBs can access to ad acquisition in our portals is an opportunity to wide our market, improve the speed and effectiveness of our service and automating our delivery processes.
Summary: Vanguardia Kids is a news multi-platform designed for kids, created by kids! A mobile, tablet or computer accessible platform for children to produce, consume, comment and share news articles in text, audio or video. Their voice in a safe and friendly environment, accompanied by professional and experienced journalists, to understand the world they live in, to demand the world's attention, to design their future. Vanguardia Kids is a product where an school assignment becomes a real product, with real impact, to create a sustainable and developed world.
Solution: Children are now producers and consumers of content, but not news. Unrestricted access to media consumption and information requires they build critical thinking skills and the ability to discern between right or wrong; true or fake news. Understanding the responsibility of being accountable for their productions, along with its effects. The goal of the project is to create a safe and friendly environment where they can produce and consume real life contents understanding the reality they live in, while doing it in an engaging and age appropriate way, using their tools such as video, audio, text, comics or even games.
Summary: CLIP wants to build a single digital platform with public and private donated data collected and mined by our team. This platform will allow reporters to connect the dots and find relevant stories by comparing information across borders and entities. It will prioritize the data collection according to public interest, potential impact and technical requirements. To fund our journalistic mission, aligned with CLIP´s ethics and independence, we will use public data analysis capacity to package and sell intelligence reports; and we will set up a “scraping store”.
Solution: Grand corruption and unlawful private practices hinder economic growth, debase democratic processes and feed violence throughout Latin America. That’s why CLIP is joining forces with the best Latin American investigative reporters and media to understand these problems beyond national borders. CLIP will create a Data Commons, a platform to facilitate and speed up data analysis for investigative reporters seeking to expose corruption and abuse of power beyond borders. Our team will collect, integrate, mine and publish data and public records to a single platform where journalists and other civic-minded organizations can rapidly connect names, addresses and other entities.
Summary: On 2018, La Nación started a new initiative focused on tackling fake news which threatened to manipulate the presidential elections in Costa Rica. It was named #nocomacuento, which means don´t believe in stories people tell you without investigating. To date, more than 400 fake news attempts have been neutralized, regarding issues such as Politics, Healthcare & Education.
Project Catapult stems from the need to scale up #nocomacuento to guarantee national coverage and improve our reader engagement. It would develop a collaborative ecosystem to enable alliances with local media pages, so we can improve our reach and neutralize more fake news.
Solution: Fake news has been strengthened by social media and are one of the biggest threats to a country's democracy. #nocomacuento was developed as a countermeasure for this phenomenon, but even it has strong presence in Costa Rica’s capital city, it doesn’t have the same reach in other settlements, neither the speed to produce and distribute content as fast as fake news spread.
If we can enable a collaborative ecosystem based on interaction and speed up the verification and distribution process, we will be able to augment our coverage and position our brand in areas where we have low engagement.
Summary: Diversification of income and the content agency Nueve allowed Nómada to find sustainability and produce journalism with independence and impact. After exploring different revenue shares far away from our core business, we are building an infrastructure for our readers to support journalism -with financial resources, knowledge and presence-, that at the end of the day belongs to them.
Solution: We are in a new era of journalism consolidation and innovation, and building trust with audience members and engaging them in spaces where they gather to share values and experiences is a new way of interacting with them.
As finding new sources of income allow independent media to thrive despite rigid local contexts, Nómada will expand its business model through a membership program where we start a solutions journalism section and build both online and offline communities that support the media.
Summary: Develop a membership platform for local digital media of the Media Alliance promoted by the Red de Periodistas a Pie; we want independent journalism to be financed by critical audiences.
Solution: For decades Mexican journalism has depended on government money, which has implied political control of the media, a problem that is worst in the local context.
We want to strengthen journalism in the regions through the relationship with the audience, avoiding the control exercised by political and economic powers through the payment of official publicity.
Summary: CodigoPostal.com is the place to find out everything that is going on near you – literally – at the post code level.
It is a centralized source of local news and information for everyone, organized by sites – determined by your postal code – called “CoPo”, (short for Código Postal) which translates to “snowflake”. Each community is as unique as a snowflake, so each CoPo is a one-stop-shop for news, information and services that are unique to your community.
Solution: Verified local news are at risk of disappearing. More than ever, people are getting their news from social media but readers trust in them is lower than other sources, but community publications have not yet been able to adapt, as the economics don’t make sense anymore.
Our thesis is that small-scale sites (CoPos, short for Código Postal), with a hyperlocal focus, diversified revenue sources and an automation-heavy, lightweight operating model will result in a self-sustaining journalistic operation.
Summary: This platform will integrate various digital ad products into a single software where SME and SOHO can directly program their campaigns. With a great user experience the client will be able to implement the entire ad campaign including social media and our own media products with automatized processes. It also aims to make the SME and SOHO segments a profitable market for news media companies contributing on the sustainability of the industry.
Solution: The SME and SOHO don't have an easy and affordable solution to advertise their products/services on news and content sites. This sector also has limited resources and they can’t waste time because it is too valuable.
For News Media Companies, serving the SME and SOHO segment is not profitable because of all the integrated processes and people required to program an ad campaign.
The solution serves a mix of branding and performance campaign strategies specially tailored for this segment, through a self-managed platform available 24/7 that automates expensive programming processes.
Summary: Journal Games is an online platform to create personalized video games that seeks to expand the scope of investigative stories that reveal information of public interest. The platform will allow media outlets, news organizations, journalists and researchers to create video games in a short amount of time with no need of coding or programming skills.
Solution: As more and more media outlets are operating on a tight budget, the likelihood of news organizations investing in innovative digital products, like video games, which will ultimately increase the scope of their content, are slight to none. Journal Games seeks to both create video games that do not demand a significant investment and increase the scope of in-depth stories that uncover facts of public interest.
Summary: The Conversation Lab is an outreach effort within El Faro ́s structure that will be responsible of developing technological features in elfaro.net to foster high quality debates between readers about the most relevant and important topics that affect the communities El Faro serves.
By cultivating a short-distance relationship between independent journalism and its audience, El Faro will foster both online and offline conversations in safe environments where doubts and nuances are important to improve the quality of social and political conversation.
It is expected that the conversations dynamics will further build communities, engage dialogue and positive action in our readers.
Solution: The current social dialogue is extremely polarized and opinions and popularity are most valued in terms of likes, shares and retweets. In addition, the massive amounts of information online about the important issues make news consumption overwhelming and generate misinformation. The misinformation-polarization duo causes a very low quality conversation between citizens about the most important issues that our society faces. To tackle this problem, The Conversation Lab will generate tech tools that enhance both online and offline spaces to engage in high quality conversations where doubts and nuances are vindicated with the aim of fostering civic engagement in our readers.
Summary: la diaria will develop tools to empower and re-empower journalism, with a special commitment to community engagement.
It will do so with the learning that comes from 13 years of management of a cooperative medium that has succeeded in mobilizing its community towards economically sustaining the medium and co-creating its journalistic agenda.
It will be an open source development, with the purpose of sharing it with other Latin American media, and of creating together a learning community about memberships.
Solution: It is not a crisis of journalism, but of a journalistic business model. In short term, the subscription model is a powerful alternative; however, in the long term, it consolidates its exclusionary nature.
So, we need to develop a new social contract:
It is no longer just about producing content, but about managing a community of knowledge in order to improve the society.
It is necessary to create technological tools that allow to reconstruct the bonds with the citizenry and to recover the presence of journalism in the territory.
We must look for mechanisms that allow the co-creation of the agendas with the minorities in society.