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Google News Initiative

A Challenge to understand the needs of local readers

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How can local news publishers create the next generation of news products without knowing what their readers need? And how can they flourish without understanding the needs of the larger majority of community residents who do not read their work?

These are crucial questions, and we want to encourage local publishers to explore them in greater depth. Starting today, we are launching the third Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge in North America to help local publishers to think about new ways to understand, enhance and serve the needs of their communities.

We're inviting publishers to submit ideas for projects that will generate research approaches to better understand these local audiences in order to rethink product and overall strategy. 

Since 2019, Google News Initiative Innovation Challenges have supported 67 projects in Canada and the U.S. with over $11 million in funding. Past recipients include projects to tackle big challenges in local news and in diversity, equity and inclusion. California Independent Television Service (ITVS) produced an interactive survey tool designed to allow viewers to share feedback and interact in real time with fellow audience members. Save the Black Press, a project from Black Voice News, is building an open site to allow news organizations to access datasets about the Black population to produce more powerful stories and generate higher engagement with a more informed public.


Applications are open from now until August 26. Established local publishers, online-only players, news startups, academics, publisher collaborations and local industry associations are all eligible to apply. Projects will be evaluated against five criteria: 


  1. Research methodology

  2. The innovative nature of the approach to the research

  3. The potential for creating more diversity, equity and inclusion

  4. The publisher plans in using the research to communicate the value brought by their journalism

  5. The plan for sharing lessons with both the community and the wider industry 


We encourage applicants to think about collaborative approaches to their projects, and employ an iterative “test and learn” approach that leads to redefined priorities and product strategy. 

Selected projects will be eligible to receive up to $200,000, not to exceed 70% of the total project cost. Please see the website for full details and application process.

How to apply

Applications, in English or French, must be made online via our website and are open until Monday, August 26 at 23:59 GMT. We will also be holding an online town hall on July 1st at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time with a live presentation, including the opportunity to ask questions. (Please note that Google does not take any equity or IP in any projects or submissions.) 

We are looking forward to seeing new ideas, projects and big bets to come this round. For more information about the Challenge, visit g.co/newsinnovation.

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