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Creator Program for Independent Journalists

The creator program for independent journalists is an innovation fund that is part of YouTube’s commitment to supporting a thriving digital news ecosystem. The creator program provides support for independent journalists, and, in particular, journalists reporting on current affairs that rely on digital video and emerging technologies. This program offers a series of trainings on YouTube best practices, video production, and entrepreneurship with peers around the world, grants to fuel capabilities, and access to dedicated support from specialists.

Applications are closed. If your country is experiencing a COVID surge and you would like to request an extension, please email our team at

Program Overview

This yearlong program provides comprehensive support to independent journalists looking to build a presence and audience on YouTube:

  • Grant: Selected participants will receive a grant of $20,000 to $50,000 USD, depending on their country of residence. See more here.
  • Best practices training: Selected participants will receive training covering a range of topics, including YouTube best practices, video production, and entrepreneurship. YouTube plans to develop and deliver the curriculum in partnership with Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. See more here.
  • YouTube specialist support: Selected participants will receive one-on-one coaching and support from a YouTube specialist. These specialists are located around the world and have extensive experience working with newsrooms and creators to build their audiences and businesses on YouTube. See more here.

The goal is that journalists complete the program with a strong, practical understanding of video production, content strategy, and building an online audience. At the conclusion of the program, journalists will work with YouTube to compile best practices for independent journalism on YouTube so the learnings from the program can extend to the broader news industry.


  • Application period: May 2021
  • Selection: June 2021
  • Program kickoff: July 2021
  • Program conclusion: June 2022


Applicant eligibility criteria:

  • Prior reporting or newsroom experience
  • Currently working independently or ability to work independently. Applicants should ensure that their participation does not represent a conflict of interest
  • Interest in or have experience with video news as a primary focus. Applicants are not required to have a YouTube channel to apply
  • Able to apply best practices for developing news and current affairs content and building an independent video presence and audience
  • Not government officials, employed by the government, or family or friends of Googlers
  • Based in one of the following countries:
    • Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico
    • Europe, Middle East & Africa: France, Germany, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom
    • North America: Canada, United States
    • Asia Pacific: Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, South Korea

The program is open to journalists with all levels of experience, from student journalists to reporters with experience at major national news organizations.

Independent journalists from underrepresented backgrounds in media are strongly encouraged to apply.


Each selected participant will receive a grant of $20,000 USD to $50,000 USD depending on their country of residence:

  • Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Philippines, Tunisia, Turkey: $20,000 USD
  • South Korea: $30,000 USD
  • Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States: $50,000 USD

Grants may be used at the discretion of the selected journalist to explore and experiment with digital video covering news and current events and build an independent video presence and audience.


Together with Medill School, YouTube plans to develop a comprehensive curriculum to help independent journalists grow their skill sets in video and business. The training will include:

  • Video production: using camera equipment and accessories, lighting, lightweight video techniques, editing video, and more.
  • YouTube best practices: setting up a YouTube channel, growing audience on YouTube, and leveraging the YouTube platform including analytics, comments, and Community.
  • Entrepreneurship: building a sustainable independent journalism business and using YouTube’s monetization suite.

The training program will start with an intensive training in July 2021, then continue with regular sessions throughout the year.

YouTube Specialist Support

Selected journalists will be paired with a YouTube specialist, who will provide one-on-one coaching on building an audience on YouTube. Specialists are located around the world and have experience in helping media companies and creators grow on YouTube.

Application & Selection Process

There will be one window to submit applications, which will close May 31, 2021 23:59 PT. Applicants will be asked to submit basic information, examples of published work, and responses to brief prompts that help us better understand goals for their channel and independent digital video presence more broadly. All applicants must accept the application terms and conditions.

Finalists may be asked to interview with the YouTube and Google teams.

Applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Journalism experience and credentials: Preferred applicants will have prior reporting or newsroom experience, and can share representative published work. Applicants are expected to articulate and uphold a code of journalistic ethics. Applicants should ensure program participation does not pose a conflict of interest.
  • Commitment to objective current affairs reporting: Preferred applicants will focus primarily on objective news reporting, not opinion or commentary. This may include original reporting, news gathering, and daily or weekly digests. Applicants should demonstrate clear standards on the distinction between fact-based reporting versus opinion. This is not intended to limit selected participants from doing opinion work, but rather indicating that it should not be the majority focus. In addition, preferred participants will focus broadly on current affairs and news topics rather than lifestyle topics like sports and entertainment. Current affairs and news topics could range from major global, national and local stories to focused beats and specific areas of interest such as economy or finance. No preference will be given to specific beats or topics within the broad category of current affairs news.
  • Clear vision for and commitment to independent video presence: Preferred applicants will articulate a clear and compelling vision and voice for their independent news presence. They will have a high-level content plan and a defined target audience, as well as a business plan. They will showcase both an understanding of what it will take for them to create and/or grow an independent video presence and a dedication to this project. Preference will be given to applicants who are able to fully participate in the program.

Selected participants will be notified no later than June 30, 2021 23:59 PT. Given the volume of anticipated applications, applicants will not receive feedback on their proposals.


Why is YouTube launching the creator program for independent journalists? Answer

The creator program for independent journalists is an innovation fund that is part of YouTube’s commitment to supporting a thriving digital news ecosystem.

Can I apply with a group of journalists looking to start a digital news video channel? Answer

The program is designed for individual independent journalists, but we can consider small groups of journalists working together. Groups should have no more than three journalists. One application should be submitted for the group as a whole.

If I am an independent journalist working with a team of researchers, producers, and others supporting me, am I eligible to apply? Will my team be able to participate in training? Answer

Yes, the program is designed for individual independent journalists, but independent journalists with teams supporting them are welcome to apply. We will evaluate whether supporting teams (e.g., producers, channel managers) will be able to participate in all training events based on capacity.

Will YouTube exercise editorial control over the videos I make while I’m in this program? Answer

Any content created for upload on YouTube during the course of the program is subject to YouTube’s Terms of Service. The program does not entail any editorial control or requirements about content selection.

Will YouTube require exclusivity of the content that I make while I’m in this program? Answer

No, any videos produced during the program are non-exclusive. Any content may be shared on any platform at any time.

Is YouTube now paying to license news content? Answer

No, the creator program is an innovation fund aimed at experimentation and capacity building that is part of YouTube’s commitment to supporting a thriving digital news ecosystem. Any content created during the course of the program is subject to YouTube’s standard Terms of Service and is not exclusive to YouTube.

Can I continue employment or freelance work while participating in the program? Answer

Participants may continue employment, independent journalism, freelance work, or anything else and still participate in the program. Journalists should ensure that their participation does not create a conflict of interest with employment or other work.

Do I need to have a YouTube channel to apply? Answer

No, but you will need to create one during the program and accept YouTube’s Terms of Service.

Are there any restrictions for how I can use the grant? Answer

The only restriction is that grants cannot be used for paid marketing on YouTube.

If my application is selected, will I be required to enter a formal agreement with YouTube? Answer

Yes, selection is conditional on independent journalists entering into an agreement with YouTube. This agreement will contain more details about grants, payment timelines, training expectations, and more.

Is the program the same in every territory? Answer

There are some nuances that vary by country due to local law requirements. Please reach out to if you have any questions or concerns about the program in your country of residence.

Will participants be required to share insights from the program with the wider news community? Answer

This program aims to help fund experimentation and innovation. As part of this, participants should be willing to showcase learnings that result from the program, including the publishing of public case studies to be shared with the wider news community.

Will the YouTube team ask for additional information beyond the application? Answer

Finalists may be asked to participate in an interview. We also may ask that you provide further supporting documentation. If you are unable to comply with such requests within the reasonable time frame requested by Google, your application will be rejected.

How does the selection process work? Answer

Eligible applicants will move to a selection round where the strongest proposals will be shortlisted. The selection round will be conducted by a team composed of YouTube and Google employees with expertise in news and the local countries. Finalists may then be asked to participate in an interview. Final selection of proposals and funding is at Google/YouTube’s sole and absolute discretion. We do not guarantee that any proposal will be successful.

If my proposal is not selected, will I receive feedback with details of why? Answer

Due to the high volume of applications expected, YouTube is unable to provide personalized feedback on each proposal.