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Google News Initiative

Announcing the first cohort of the Google News Initiative Startups Lab India



The pandemic has remolded how we interact, work and seek information. Large parts of our lives and businesses are moving online, and the shifts are also highlighting new opportunities and gaps. The news industry is no different, responding to the altered landscape, visible in new formats like podcasts, virtual conclaves and focussed storytelling.

A few months ago, we announced the Google News Initiative Startups Lab - a 16-week catalyst program that aims to help the next generation independent Indian news startups achieve financial and operational sustainability.

Created in collaboration between the Google News Initiative (GNI), global innovation lab Echos, and DIGIPUB News India Foundation, the GNI Startups Lab India supports high-quality reporting for local and previously underserved communities.

Today, we are pleased to announce the ten startups that will form the first cohort of the GNI Startups Lab. Chosen out of over 70 applicants from across India, the ten news startups cover an array of types of journalism, including investigative, broadcast, political, data and local news organisations that give a voice to underrepresented communities. The diverse cohort features newsrooms from around the country, producing news in languages including English, Hindi, Malayalam and Urdu.

GNI Startups Lab India

BehanBox

Stated mission: “Our mission is to bring the voices of women and gender-diverse persons center stage, as they are often relegated to footnotes in the media. Through our analysis of laws and policies combined with on ground reportage, our mission is to create useful resources for women and gender diverse persons to be equal participants in India's democracy.”

Bisbo

Stated mission: “We convert everyday boring news and make them into dramatic videos, with a gripping opening, a smooth story flow sometimes going back and forth into the story to make it a movie-like experience but always sticking to the facts, the sources to which we share at the end of the video.”

East Mojo

Stated mission: “We are a mobile-first, multimedia digital platform delivering timely, regional and contemporary news for, by, and of the region’s stakeholders. Our editorial policies prioritise accuracy over speed, voices over noise, and truth over trends, often at the cost of views, to ensure a credible product that resonates with our readers. We take pride in our extensive knowledge of the region and our capacity building efforts, which has helped create a product that stands head and shoulders above the rest.”

ED Times

Stated mission: “ED Times is a youth media publication; the No. 1 Source For In-depth News Stories That Matter To Millennials. It’s where Indian Millennials comment on news and stories around them, an opinions place by and for really young people. We believe in creating responsible news content and attempting to change the reading habits of young India. All our writers are certified in the digital journalism course by Reuters & Facebook Journalism Project.”

Headline Network

Stated mission: “Our mission is to decentralise news media in India by tackling the asymmetric distribution of power in the hands of a few. We operate a network of Citizen Journalism platforms in Indian languages that enables underrepresented citizens to post local news and create awareness of ground level issues while creating a source of ancillary earnings in the process.”

Main Media

Stated mission: “We disseminate hyper-local rural news, often ignored by mainstream media in vernacular language. We started our pilot project in 2018 from one of India’s most backward regions – Seemanchal, which consists of Kishanganj, Purnia, Katihar and Araria districts of Bihar. It shares borders with Nepal and North Bengal. It suffers from annual flood, distress migration and apathy of authorities. We want to replicate the Seemanchal model of our coverage in other similarly backward regions of India.”

Suno India

Stated mission: “Our mission is to be the go-to-platform for credible and well-researched multilingual audio content which is on par with international podcasts. We want to continue to shine a spotlight on under-represented and under-reported stories using audio as a medium and want to stay editorially independent.”

The Bridge

Stated mission: "To put it simply - We are the ONLY sports media house fully focussed on Indian Sports, with a special emphasis on Olympic Sports like no other. Employing a wide range of textual, visual and other diverse forms of storytelling, we aim to bring all the stories and the people behind into the spotlight, thereby bridging the gap in Indian Sports. We envision ourselves as a key part of India turning into an actual sporting nation, one story at a time."

The Cue

Stated mission: “Our mission has always been to bring to the viewers stories that are left out or marginalized from the larger mainstream media and bring the needed impact through in-depth reporting, unique storytelling, and multimedia narrative.”

The Probe

Stated mission: “The Probe is an independent ad-free digital news media platform. As an independent media outlet we are privileged to have unfettered freedom without external influencers be it commercial or political. Our core focus areas: Investigations, Solutions, Impact and Development. We are of the strong view that our rigour in research and investigative reporting following a solution centric approach is a great example of public interest journalism.”

We are pleased to support these publications through the GNI Startups Lab program and continue to work with publishers of all kinds -- from digital natives to regional media to support a diverse and vibrant news ecosystem.