Google News Initiative: A retrospective and looking forward

In a keynote session at Digital Media Asia 2020 in October, Google’s Director of News Ecosystem Development, Madhav Chinnappa, gave an overview of the past and future of the Google News Initiative (GNI) and what would be the focus of

by WAN-IFRA External Contributor | October 26, 2020

By Xie Yihui

Building bridges between Google and the news industry

During a period when misinformation and disinformation are spread by individual and state actors, quality journalism is more important than ever, said Madhav Chinnappa (pictured above), Google’s Director of News Ecosystem Development during a keynote at this year’s virtual Digital Media Asia. 

Business challenges are also significant, as both advertising and user behaviour increasingly favour digital devices. 

One prominent partner that Google works with is Dainik Jagran in India. With a long legacy and an online reach of over 107 million unique users, Dainik Jagran continues to actively deepen its relationship with readers. 

As shown in the slide below, after anticipating a traffic surge in 2019,  Dainik Jagran used analytical tools, such as Google’s News Consumer Insights and Realtime Content Insights, to analyze audience behaviour and discover specific topics that mattered to their readers. 

Based on the data available, they built a proactive notification system that pushed alerts to readers with content that matched their interests. 

The results are encouraging, Chinnappa said. Dainik Jagran witnessed a more than doubling in session time from their most valuable users and a doubling of the number of page views.

Caption: A slide from the presentation by Madhav Chinnappa, showing four stages of how partnership has led to positive impacts.

This is just one of 200 individual partnerships that Google has with news publishers. In the Asia Pacific region, the Google News Initiative (GNI) has trained more than 78,000 journalists in person (before the COVID-19 pandemic) and financially supported 800+ newsrooms in the region through its Journalism Emergency Relief Fund, Chinnappa said. 

A full GNI impact report will be released later this year. 

Future focus

Looking ahead, the GNI has four areas of focus in 2021. 

First, plans to offer the output of the GNI’s research partnerships and technological development to a broader audience, with a particular focus on the Asia Pacific region. 

Just last month, Google launched the Digital Growth Program, which aims to deliver the best insights, practices and tools developed so far within the GNI. It covers five topics: Audience Development, Reader Revenue, Advertising Revenue, Data and Product. 

For each topic, the GNI is developing a downloadable online playbook, workshops and interactive exercises, all of which will be available online and in multiple languages. 

“The Program will benefit small- and medium-size news organisations around the globe, ” Chinnappa said. 

The second focus is continuing to support quality journalism. Google is working with journalists and organisations to strengthen the fact-checking community. 

To supplement this, it will also continue collaborating with nonprofits and academic institutions to identify emerging misinformation trends and conduct research and perform experiments on how to combat them. 

Thirdly, Google will continue to invest in diversity, equity and inclusion in the news industry. 

“We strongly believe that diversity is a strength and is key for the success of the news industry today and in the future.”

Diversity within this region necessitates constant feedback and improvements, he said. 

Finally, the fourth focus is on business sustainability for news organisations. An example of this commitment is Google News Showcase, which represents a US$1 billion commitment to the news industry over the next three years. 

The showcase displays curated content by newsrooms while letting readers go deeper into the more complex stories, stay informed and be exposed to diverging issues and interests. 

The GNI also plans to deepen its impact in APAC markets by increasing the number of its news association partners, who “will continue to push [Google] to adapt [its] programs and solutions to the needs of the individual markets in the Asia-Pacific region,” Chinnappa said.

Shared mission, values and business interests. “Google succeeds when publishers in the news ecosystem thrive. We only make money when our ad tech publishing partners make money,” said Chinnappa, (Slide: Google News Initiative)

About the author: Xie Yihui is a student at Yale-NUS College. Always committed to bringing clarity to important issues, she writes about news on campus, overseas Chinese and disability. 

Edited by Bill Poorman.

WAN-IFRA External Contributor

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