This time last year, we announced a package of investments to support India’s news ecosystem, including launching Google News Showcase - our new product experience for readers and licensing program for news publishers.
One year on, we continue to learn and evolve the program, work with more publishers and strengthen our partnership with the news industry through training and tools designed to equip newsrooms to leverage the digital opportunity.
Since Google News Showcase launched in India last year, we’ve signed deals with more than 80 partners representing more than 130 publications, including national, regional and local news organizations like Times Group, The Hindu Group, HT Digital Streams Ltd, Indian Express Group, ABP LIVE, India TV, NDTV, Zee News, Amar Ujala, Deccan Herald, Punjab Kesari, The Telegraph India, IANS and ANI. We continue to work towards adding more partners.
Additionally, Google News Showcase expanded to more languages over the past year and now supports a total of 8 languages including Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Bengali - along with English and Hindi.
GNI Startups Labs
We recently concluded the GNI Startups Labs program in India, with 10 news media startups participating in the 4-month program designed to support and contribute to the acceleration of the news ecosystem in the digital environment. The program began in December 2021 and participating news startups had access to mentorship, training and workshops on topics such as audience-centricity, digital products, business models, marketing, strategy, community building and fundraising.
One of the participants, Karma Paljor, a journalist who co-founded EastMojo in 2018 said: “The Startups Lab came at a time when we were working on ways to level up from our current position. There were many questions on our quantity vs quality, expansion to other states, new content buckets and most importantly monetisation. Through the Lab, we were able to test new content products and also launched our support model. We would eventually want to grow to a subscription model.”
Another participant, Bhanupriya Rao from BehanBox said: “The biggest win for us was the shift in our own mindsets from a journalist thinking to a product and business thinking. This thinking is helping all our future innovation and taking our journalism to bigger audiences.”
We will continue to work with news startups to support their needs, with more programs to come later this year.
GNI Advertising Lab
We’ve also just completed the GNI Advertising Lab, a six-month effort launched in partnership with Dataleads and Mediology (Readwhere) to support more than 200 small and medium news organizations in their digital advertising journey.
The goal of the GNI Advertising Lab is to help publishers increase their advertising revenue with product training and technical implementation.
Saj Kurian, Managing Director of Southlive, a Malayalam-language news portal said ‘Southlive is very thankful for this opportunity given to us by GNI. The Ad Lab program has been truly insightful for our team. The support and guidance provided to us about revenue making and boosting the overall performance of our website has been tremendously helpful. Upon completion of the program, Southlive has been able to make an upward shift in its overall performance. Before we joined this program, we were at a position where we could not generate ad revenue. However, with the positive guidance from your team, we are currently able to generate a Google Ad revenue of approximately $1500/month. In addition to the same, the workshop has empowered the whole team of Southlive. We are now able to put forward our needs clearly to our developers which is crucial to our performance enhancement.’
Lavanika Vemula, Digital Manager at Mid-Day.com said ‘We had an excellent experience with GNI, very knowledgeable and good learning. It is important for a partner to be accessible and flexible to have measurable results, which GNI could be for us. There was an excellent collaboration with numerous suggestions on increasing advertising revenue. We can easily say that was the most valuable aspect of the collaboration.’
GNI Newsroom Leadership Program in collaboration with Columbia School of Journalism
We called for applications late last year and the program kicked off in April 2022 with its first India-only cohort, comprising fellows from a variety of newsrooms, both legacy and digital native.
The program aims to strengthen the leadership skills and decision-making capacity of newsroom leaders working and living in India, with a particular focus on applied technology, audience understanding, design thinking, data applications, emerging business models and editorial innovation.
The projects that the fellows have chosen to work on focus on topics like citizen journalism, managing remote workforce, environment and climate change reporting, artificial intelligence, podcasting and subscriber growth among others.
“The most unique part of the program is the mentoring support of a dedicated expert coach who is helping us with a project of our choice. This is a very rare opportunity. Through this program, I am not only strengthening my abilities as a newsroom leader, but also helping my newsroom keep up with the ever changing digital world.” said Pratyush Ranjan, Executive Editor at Jagran New Media, who is working on using Artificial Intelligence to strengthen quality journalism.
“I loved the design thinking phase. The first week of virtual residency was intense, in a good way, and pushed us out of our comfort zone. The program faculty, coaches and learning material that we have been given access to are stellar. I am also most excited about this unique opportunity to share and collaborate with colleagues from other newsrooms, and build a network that would go beyond the classroom. We are learning from each other, helping each other and are truly rooting for each. This for me is inspiring! I am glad I got the opportunity to find my tribe,” said Aditi Tondon, Editor at Mongabay India who is working on a project to tackle climate change misinformation.
Expanded support for newsrooms to combat misinformation
We are continuing our work to strengthen digital skills in newsrooms and journalism schools across India. Last year we announced that, with increased support from the News Lab, we’ll train 50,000 journalists and journalism students, with a focus on verification and tools to combat misinformation online. We’ve also expanded programs to connect Indian journalists and fact-checkers, building on our existing work with the GNI India Training Network in partnership with DataLeads. To date, it has trained over 39,000 Indian journalists in 10 languages, touching more than 1,200 news organizations and more than 1100 universities. We also supported Ekta Coalition, a consortium of six independent fact-checking groups and Meedan, a global technology non-profit, to run a media literacy and fact-checking training and fellowship for journalism students.
We are proud of the developments we’ve seen over the past 12 months and continue to work with a diverse mix of publishers across India to help them to build a sustainable, independent and diverse news ecosystem.