April 29th, 2020
Last October, we invited news organizations to apply to the second round of the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge in Asia Pacific: a call for new ideas to help journalism thrive in the digital age. Since then, the COVID-19 outbreak has affected publishers across the region, and, after discussions with publishers, we made the decision to go ahead with the Challenge—alongside our broader support for journalism in this challenging time.
The first round of the Challenge focused on diversifying revenue and saw dozens of examples of creative new approaches. Iwate Nippo, a local publisher in Japan, developed a news and lifestyle app targeting elderly subscribers, while Australia’s Crikey created a new group subscription model—steps to strengthen their business and ensure they can continue to provide vital news, analysis, and information.
This time around, applicants were asked for proposals to increase reader engagement, which ultimately leads to greater loyalty and willingness to pay for content. We received 255 strong submissions across topics like user-generated content, community management, fact-checking, and the use of technologies such as machine learning to tackle business challenges. Today, we’re announcing the 18 organizations from across the region selected to take their ideas forward with GNI’s support.
As in the first round, what set these organizations apart was the variety and creativity of their ideas. Gaon Connection in India is building an ‘insights platform’ to capture the opinions and preferences of rural communities. Three local news providers in Korea—the Busan Daily, Maeil Dairy, and Gangwon Daily—are collaborating to gather real-time insights that will help them create customized experiences for their readers. Australian Community Media is developing a new platform for classified ads that will better support local newspapers and small businesses. Japan’s Nippon TV is using augmented reality technology to bring its news archives to life—and these are just some of the proposals that stood out during the application process.
We’re grateful to all the organizations that took the time to apply. A strong Asia Pacific news industry has never been more important, and we’re looking forward to seeing the selected applicants put their ideas into action.