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Google News Initiative

Taiwanese publisher uses bespoke model to boost reader engagement.

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The project

READr began with a business challenge, initially seeking to generate revenue to support their fact-checking platform. Through the GNI Design Accelerator (GNI DA), they collaborated with Echos Innovation Lab and Splice Media to address a foundational challenge—understanding their audience’s needs.

They conducted desk research, surveys and in-depth interviews with readers. By analysing and synthesising this qualitative and quantitative research, they determined that what truly motivates their

audience is a desire to build a better future for Taiwan—and read a reliable, trustworthy source of news.

Publisher Background

Disinformation represents a critical threat to democracies such as Taiwan.


Cyber armies often take advantage of complex, deep-rooted ideological, cultural and political differences among the country’s 23.8 million citizens to spread misinformation through tech platforms and messaging apps.

Hsin-Chan Chien
“We began this project with the idea of creating a new revenue model, but soon realised we needed to understand our audience better and adjust our product to meet their needs before we could start thinking about profits.”
Hsin-Chan Chien
FOUNDER AND CEO AT READr
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Person giving presentation
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The results

The GNI DA helped READr clarify their product’s vision and purpose: to empower people and play a significant role in shaping Taiwan.

“We began this project with the idea of creating a new revenue model, but soon realised we needed to understand our audience better and adjust our product to meet their needs before we could start thinking about profits.”
Hsin-Chan Chien
FOUNDER AND CEO AT READr

It helped READr develop a value proposition for both collaborators and readers, while providing clear goals and metrics for success. This includes creating a community of active members who donate content and funds to keep the mission of an open newsroom and citizen journalism alive. The goal is to increase membership from 2,000 to 20,000 and increase donations to NTD $300,000 per month.


READr is getting more exposure as part of their short-term strategy. Their first step was to introduce READr to people, and around 80% of the monthly users between September to November are new users.


READr has also observed an increase in the average article quality rate. Through the rating system, READr has been able to engage with readers for user feedback on content and seen an increase in article rating from 4.3 in October to 4.6 out of 5 stars in November.


The long-term health of the model will depend on READr’s ability to keep attracting the right audience, convert them into donators, provide them with a great experience and retain them as loyal users.

23.8%
Increase in time spent on platform from 4:12 min to 5:12 min
Increase in time spent on platform from 4:12 min to 5:12 min
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PARTNERSHIP OVERVIEW

Taipei-based media start-up READr partnered with the Google News Initiative Design Accelerator (GNI DA) program in 2019 to design a collective approach to fighting disinformation, driven by the belief that technology, open information sharing and citizen participation can empower people to engage with social and political issues, thereby contributing to a better Taiwan.

READr is a small outlet supported by a larger media organization, Mirror Media Inc. Relying mostly on donations, it is critical for the organization to build business sustainability. In addition to that, citizen journalism has its own challenges including source verification, quality control, and both physical and digital safety of professional and citizen journalists.

READr used the power of technology and design to employ open data in driving engagement, motivating its readership and ultimately empowering its community to hold governments and powerful organisations accountable.

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