Supporting Journalism in South Africa
Food for Mzansi, an agriculture news platform, knew that people in rural communities in South Africa often don’t get access to news that is relevant to where they live. So they set up the Sinelizwi citizen journalism project to train 62 citizens from all nine Provinces to tell the untold stories of rural communities and agriculture. National publisher Daily Maverick succeeded in increasing membership by 110% year over year during 2020 by using data from multiple sources in order to better understand, engage and retain its readership.
These are a few examples of how journalists and publishers are using technology to reach their readers. It's also an example of how Google supports journalists and publishers through training and innovation funding as they adapt to digital. As the news industry continues to evolve, publishers in South Africa are asking for more support in their transition to digital. Today, we’re announcing additional digital innovation training and programs coming to Africa in 2022. We are excited to announce the launch of Digital Growth Programme, a training programme for news publishers looking to grow their digital skills and transform their business online programme in South Africa in May 2022. This will be launched in partnership with FT Strategies (the consulting arm of the Financial Times). Publishers can learn more about the program and apply here.
Training and funding for a sustainable news ecosystemThe news landscape in Africa is changing fast. In five years, the number of people accessing digital platforms for news content has almost doubled, opening up access to news and supporting a new generation of independent and digital media. Google uses tools like Google News to connect readers with news organisations of all sizes. During the pandemic, sales of physical newspapers in South Africa were reduced due to lockdown and advertising suddenly slowed. Google provided immediate financial relief to 25 news publishers in South Africa with a combined $188,000 from our Journalism Emergency Relief Fund.
The Google News Lab has provided training on a range of digital tools to more than 17 thousand journalists and journalism students across Africa - with 1,200 in South Africa alone. Journalists who are interested in signing up for training from the Google News Lab can learn more here or contact email@example.com.
As part of the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge, Google provided $260,000 (ZAR 4,459,000) to three South African projects, the aforementioned Food for Mzansi, and Daily Maverick, and online only publisher Scrolla.Africa. Scrolla.Africa is reducing the data cost for readers with a project called Scrolla DataLite to provide a clean, easy-to-navigate platform with content in English and Zulu.
Making it easier for publishers to make money through digital advertisingOur ad technology helps publishers of all sizes make money through digital advertising. These tools help publishers sell more ad space than ever before, to advertisers around the world, many of which they wouldn’t have access to without this technology. And publishers that choose to use our advertising services such as Google AdSense, AdMob and Ad Manager retain the vast majority of the revenue. Through the Google News Initiative, we also provide free resources and workshops on advertising revenue.
Supporting the future of newsFor two decades, journalism and news has been and continues to be important to Google. We work side-by-side with publishers around the world to build a more sustainable news ecosystem. We recently held the first GNI Africa event to bring together publishers, journalists and experts, and announced a new training partnership with UNESCO to help support over 100 journalism schools across the continent.
We look forward to continuing these discussions with journalists, publishers and policymakers to grow and strengthen journalism in South Africa. Through the Google News Initiative, Digital Growth Programme, NewsLab training program, and products focused on advertising and publishing, we will work together to support the industry’s digital innovation.
Posted by Abongile Mashele, Government Affairs and Public Policy Senior Manager, Southern Africa.