Google News Initiative's Innovation Challenge Aims To Boost Diversity

The Google News Initiative announced its second North America GNI Innovation Challenge this week with an eye toward supporting diverse audiences.

The 2020 theme was inspired by Google’s work with the Borealis Racial Equity in Journalism Fund. It noted communities with the least access to news are the most at risk of being disregarded when it comes to policy creation and civic processes.

Google will spend up to $6 million to support projects proposed through an open submission call.

“Most communities in North America are diverse. They are comprised of people of various ethnicities, income levels and countries of origin,” LaToya Drake, global outreach lead for the GNI, wrote.

“In a lot of cases, these diverse audiences are not effectively represented in the pages of their newspaper or remain untapped as an opportunity to increase engagement and grow the business for a news organization,” she added.



Projects selected in the challenge will promote diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as generate growth and diversification of revenue specifically for news media based in communities with unrepresented audiences.

Drake noted that examples of successful projects could “include using technology to understand the business impact of overlooking certain audiences, designing strategies to improve discovery of local and diverse content, or diversifying revenue streams.”

“It's important that publishers who cover underrepresented audiences continue to thrive as the world becomes increasingly digital,” Drake wrote.

The Google Innovation Challenge kicked off in 2019 and spent $5.8 million to fund 34 projects in 17 states and provinces. Last year’s challenge focused on generating revenue and increasing audience engagement across local journalism.

The deadline for the 2020 challenge is May 12.

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