Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge seeks news innovators in the Middle East, Turkey & Africa

The Google News Initiative (GNI) announced the opening of the third Innovation Challenge in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. The selected innovation projects will be eligible to receive up to $150,000 each in funding.

The GNI Innovation Challenges is an open call for funding from Google that aims to empower news organisations around the world to demonstrate new thinking in online journalism, to better understand their communities, and to develop new publishing business models.

News providers of all sizes in MENA are eligible to apply. Projects will be evaluated against five criteria: innovation, impact on news ecosystem, diversity, equity and inclusion; inspiration; and feasibility. Applications must be made online via the GNI Innovation Challenge website and are open until Tuesday, April 5 at 23:59 GMT.

Since 2019, the GNI Innovation Challenge has selected 43 projects from 18 countries across the Middle East, Turkey and Africa based on the project theme of increasing reader engagement and/or explore new business models.

In MENA, 19 projects from 8 countries were selected and funded in the last three years. Some of the recipients include The National (UAE), Daraj Media and Raseef 22 (Lebanon), Sowt podcast (Jordan), Egab (Egypt), Nas News (Iraq), Tel Quel (Morocco)  and more. The full list can be found on g.co/newsinnovation. The ideas range from digital membership schemes to Arabic language search tools.

“Over the last two funding rounds, we’ve seen news providers in the region advance a diverse range of topics from data journalism and new readers revenue models to digital newsroom tools designed to tackle climate change reporting,” said Ludovic Blecher, Head of Google News Initiative Innovation. “The Middle East, Turkey and Africa is a region rich with talent, high potential and opportunities. This year, we’re looking forward to seeing fresh ideas and innovative approaches to big challenges the news ecosystem is facing.”

“Google has long supported the news industry in MENA, and we continue to engage closely with news publishers and associations, and to grow our support through programs like the GNI Innovation Challenges and Newslab. Google’s NewsLab training has been running in MENA for 10 years and has since trained 15,000 people including journalists, news professionals and journalism students,” said Joyce Baz, Head of Communications for Google in MENA.

For more information about the GNI Innovation Challenge program, visit g.co/newsinnovation.