Google to invest US$2.7m in the future of news

24 Feb 2011

Google is investing US$2.7m in a contest to find and fund breakthrough ideas that will have a lasting impact on the future of digital news in communities across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Online news is developing at a rapid pace and with the unfolding events in North Africa and the Middle East the role of social media and Web 2.0 technologies are proving fundamental.

“Journalism is changing fast,” said Peter Barron, director of external relations, Google EMEA. “And as news businesses experiment with new ways of creating and delivering journalism in the digital age, Google is keen to play its part on the technology side.

“Over the last year, we’ve been partnering with publishers around the world to develop technological solutions – including, most recently, One Pass – to find new and engaging ways of presenting stories online and to generate greater revenues.

“As well as our focus on technological experimentation, we’re also investing at the grassroots level. Last October, we announced that we would be giving US$5m in grants to non-profit organisations working on developing new approaches to journalism. At that time, we allocated around 40pc of the total fund to the Knight Foundation in the US.

“Today, we awarded a US$2.7m grant to the International Press Institute, based in Vienna, which will be used to sponsor the IPI News Innovation Contest. The contest seeks to find and fund breakthrough ideas that will have a lasting impact on the future of digital news in communities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa,” Barron said.

Grants for digital journalism initiatives

He said that grants will be awarded to both non-profit and for-profit organisations working on digital journalism initiatives, including open-source and mobile technology projects created by or for journalists and distributed in the public interest.

From today until 1 June, the IPI will invite proposals from around the region for projects devoted to online innovation in journalism, new economic models for news and training in digital reporting.

“The IPI has a long tradition of working on innovation in journalism, freedom of expression and other important issues. We’re sure they’ll be able to find and advance some great digital journalism projects over the next couple of years – and we encourage anyone with innovative ideas, large or small, to apply for a grant from the IPI.

“In the meantime, we’ll continue to work with the news industry to help develop new projects, products and experiments that make it possible for journalism to thrive online,” Barron said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years