Google has opened the Google News Initiative (GNI) challenge for media publishers in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey.

The Head of Google News Initiative Innovation, Ludovic Bleacher, made the  disclosure at the unveiling of the initiative in Lagos.

The Google News Initiative is a journalism-focused programme that will help publishers earn money and fight fake news.

It will also introduce an open-source tool called Outline, which will make it easier for news organisations to set up secure access to the internet for their journalists.

The official said that the challenge was open for application, adding that it was aimed at injecting new ideas and innovation in the ecosystem.

“The Google News Initiative is our global effort to work with the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age.

“The GNI Innovation Challenge is accepting proposals for projects from news organisations of every size to address increasing engagement with readers and/or exploring new business models in any form such as subscriptions, membership programmes, and so on.

“Traditional publishers, news startups and associations that aim to build innovative digital media projects are all eligible to apply,” he said.

The official said that the projects could be highly experimental, but must have well-defined goals and a significant digital component.

“We have long collaborated with the news industry to drive traffic, increase audience engagement and generate revenue, but there are legitimate questions about how high quality journalism can be sustained in the digital age.

“As part of that, we are proud to open applications for the GNI’s first Innovation Challenge in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey,” he said.

This challenge is open to every news innovation and will focus on creative projects that demostrate opportunities to increase readers engagement and support the development of new business model.

Google will fund selected projects up to USD $150,000 and would finance up to 70 per cent of the total project cost.

A special discretion  might be considered by the jury depending on the scale and impact of a collaborative effort.

The application window  would close on Sept. 2 – only online applications in English will be considered.

Google has in the last two years, trained more than 4,000 journalists across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

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