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The Keyword

Google News Initiative

An innovation challenge to sustain diverse media

Update: The deadline has been extended to August 12th, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

Most communities in North America are diverse. They are comprised of people of various ethnicities, income levels, and countries of origin. In a lot of cases these diverse audiences are not effectively represented in the pages of their local news publication or remain untapped as an opportunity to increase engagement and grow the business for a news organization. That’s why it's increasingly important for publishers to understand the diverse communities they serve. 

We hope this is where the Google Innovation Challenge can help. Last year, the GNI North American Innovation Challenge focused on generating revenue and increasing audience engagement for local journalism. 34 projects in 17 states and provinces received $5.8 million to help with projects ranging from a way for local news providers to access and monetize audio clips, to testing a new approach to local news discovery, engagement and membership.

This year the spotlight will shift toward helping publishers understand their audiences so that they can build a sustainable business. Through our work with the Borealis Racial Equity in Journalism Fund we know that communities with the least access to relevant news are also most likely to be left out of policy creation and civic processes. A diverse and ethnic media is a critical news source for underrepresented groups, filling gaps for stories that don’t rise to mainstream media, and providing a positive and authentic representation of their cultures. It's important that publishers who cover underrepresented audiences continue to thrive as the world becomes increasingly digital. 

How this challenge works:

The North American GNI Innovation Challenge will provide funding for projects that have a clear focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in journalism, promote the creation of sustainable models for local media that address diverse audiences, and recognize that as an opportunity for driving engagement and revenue.

We’re looking for a breadth of projects, and examples might include using technology to understand the business impact of overlooking certain audiences, designing strategies to improve discovery of local and diverse content, or diversifying revenue streams. Please join us on March 18th at 9a.m. PST for town hall where we will answer your questions. You can tune in using this link.

How to apply: 

Applications open today, and the deadline to submit is May 12th, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. PT (Update: The deadline has been extended to August 12th, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. PT).  Over the next 10 weeks we’ll hold workshops and bootcamps to get the word out and answer questions about the Innovation Challenge. You can also get in contact with us at

We’re looking forward to seeing what creative ideas you come up with.

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