Grant for Innovation Challenge in North America

Google News Initiative

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Predicted Deadline
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Predicted deadline: Aug 26, 2022 11:59pm PDT

Grant amount: Up to US $200,000

Fields of work: Journalism News Media & Communications Internet / Media Freedom

Applicant type: Organizations

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: Canada, United States, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands Show all

Location of residency: Canada, United States, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands Show all

Overview:

NOTE: This call for applications is a discretely different call from the previous two North American Innovation Challenges as it is very focused on baseline research.

Introduction


As a part of the Google News Initiative’s $300M commitment to help journalism thrive in the digital age, we’ve launched GNI Innovation Challenges to support projects that drive digital innovation, help publishers understand their communities and develop new business models. The GNI funds sets of projects from around the world that meet specified criteria, with the intent of producing learnings that can be shared with the wider industry.

We are taking an exciting turn this round of the North America Innovation Challenge by calling for projects which focus on a fundamental challenge for local publishers: understanding and serving the needs of your communities. The changes in our digital world requires both a fresh understanding of a community’s needs and an understanding of how to communicate the benefits and values of a news organization back to its community.

As local news organizations strive to address the needs of their communities and attain financial sustainability, this North America Innovation Challenge will support projects that tackle the challenges of better understanding and serving communities to enhance the relationship with their varied audiences. To achieve this we’re encouraging news organizations to further develop learnings about their audiences through rigorous research.

Google will fund selected projects up to $200,000 and will finance up to 70% of the total project cost. Special discretion on the total project cap may be considered by the Jury depending on the scale and impact of a very large collaborative effort.

Eligible Projects

The North American GNI Innovation Challenge will focus on projects that demonstrate how they plan to tackle the challenges of better understanding and serving their communities in ways that demonstrate the value of journalism to enhance the relationship with their various audiences. Every community is a unique place, distinct from yet still linked with others around the world. Every audience, whether it is urban or rural, wealthy or poor, young or ageing has a way in which it processes, participates in and perceives local news. The path to sustainability includes diligently understanding the communities publishers serve and applying those learnings to their work.

Applicants should address how their plan might approach the following steps:

  • Step One: Using survey, focus group and other data-driven methods to establish a baseline understanding of the community’s informational needs and expectations - from accountability journalism to “news-you-can-use.” This should include an assessment of the perception of your news offering from within the communities.
  • Step Two: Incorporate those learnings into adjustments in product design, editorial strategy and messaging.
  • Step Three: Repeat step one based on the product and messaging changes.
  • Step Four: Disclose what you’ve learned and evaluate how it might impact your ongoing approaches.

Projects should be about rigorous testing and research that plan to share both the instruments they develop and the results with others in the industry. They should not be about soft research eg. forming advisory groups or embarking on listening tours. Approaches that are intended to be repeatable by the organization and/or replicable by others will be favored during assessment.

All four phases of the projects should be delivered within one year (including the testing stage) and successful applications will lead to the disclosure of a report about implementation and sustainable change within your organization.

Example projects could include:

  • Community engagement: Based on rigorous research methods, using surveying tools, forming a community listening project, involving online events, facebook forums, SMS/ whatsapp based research.
  • Revenue: Based on a structured methodology, a project to sell more subscriptions by asking survey respondents to financially support a local news organization with messaging A/B tested against moral segmentation (protect the vulnerable -vs- long standing service to community)
  • Infrastructure: Integrating customer databases across media types and departments, to create a holistic view of customers and provide seamless service.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.

Eligibility:

  • The North American GNI Innovation Challenge is open to local news organizations of every size. Applicants should be operating in a local news market and aim to tackle the challenges of better understanding and serving communities in ways that demonstrate the value of journalism to enhance the relationship with their various audiences.
  • Established publishers, online-only players, news startups, publisher consortia, academics and local industry associations are all eligible to apply. Collaborative applications with other industry players are very welcome. Incorporated organizations must be incorporated in one of the eligible countries (see below) in the North American region. Unincorporated organizations must be registered in North America (or, if unregistered, have their principal place of business there).
    • Eligible Regions
      • Incorporated organizations must be incorporated in one of the eligible countries (see below). Unincorporated organizations must be registered in the North America region (or, if unregistered, have their principal place of business there).
        • Eligible Countries
          • Canada
          • United States
          • United States Overseas Territories

Ineligibility:

  • Projects that are limited to the creation or publication of content without a specific innovative component are not eligible for funding. Examples of projects that would NOT qualify for Innovation Challenge funding include:
    • Projects without a clear focus rigorous research and testing
    • Projects limited to the creation of content
    • Projects that are for general funding or investment
    • Project just about content improvement by licensing existing tools such as Groundsource, Subtext, Metrics for News, etc.
    • Projects merely translating news content into other languages
    • Upgrades of legacy publishing systems
    • Projects that relate to simply collating or listing data (for example, the publication of job listings or stock exchange data, or the re-publication of newswires articles);
    • Projects delivering training or education only

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This page was last reviewed June 28, 2021 and last updated June 28, 2021