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Digital News Initiative: first funding brings €27m to projects in 23 countries

In October, we issued an open call for applications to the first round of the Digital News Initiative Innovation Fund. The €150m fund is designed to spark new thinking and give European news organizations of all sizes the space to try some new things, experiment and innovate in the digital space. 

Today, at Sciences Po in Paris, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, announced that 128 organizations hailing from 23 European countries are being offered funding. All told, just over €27m in funding will be put to work in projects large and small to advance innovation across the industry.

We can’t dive deep into details as recipients are still being notified, but here are a few projects that demonstrate new thinking in the practice of digital journalism, and who we’re particularly proud to be offering funding.

Spain’s eldiario.es will create a new journalism funding system that will identify niche groups of audiences and invite them to fund a specific story or top up the financial gap in an important area of coverage. Building on a traditional crowd-funding model, the project will leverage the existing relationship between the news organization behind the platform and a community of millions of readers. 

The German startup Spectrm will build an artificial intelligence engine to help publishers communicate directly with readers--and distribute content--on a 1:1 basis through instant messaging apps.

digital news initiative infographic

For a primer/reminder on how the Fund works and is governed, click here, and for the full list of projects when confirmed, please check the DNI website as we will be updating it. We’ll be opening the application cycle again before the summer and we look forward to receiving even more big ideas in the next round of applications. 

But as we shared in April at the launch of the Digital News Initiative, a collaboration with European news organizations to support high quality journalism through technology and innovation--product development is as important to the effort as funding is. To continue to demonstrate that, our teams in Mountain View had even more to share with the news industry this week.

Beginning today, Accelerated Mobile Pages, the open-source code project that enables the loading of mobile news content up to 4x faster than traditional HTML, will begin appearing in Google Search in a dedicated carousel to help users find super fast content even faster. Today publishers and platforms from six European countries are celebrating that update alongside us, as well as significant advancements in the advertising, analytics and paywall features of the product.

Additionally, Project Shield, an effort born out of Jigsaw, formerly Google Ideas, will help news sites better protect themselves from DDoS attacks, particularly in parts of the world where accurate information from independent journalists is more important than ever. This project, which has been in beta, will now become a tool available for independent news organizations even more widely at g.co/shield.

As of today, the Digital News Initiative is a collaboration between Google and more than 160 news publishers across Europe. We’re incredibly proud of the progress we’ve made together thus far--and are excited for the continued possibilities down the road.