American multinational technology company, Google LLC, has announced that five Nigerian organisations and 29 others won the third edition of Google News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge for Africa, Middle East, Israel and Turkey.
In a statement on Thursday, Ludovic Blecher, Head of Innovation, Google News Initiative, said that the recipients were selected for their initiatives in promoting diversity, equality and inclusion in the journalism industry.
Blecher said the 34 projects of the recipients from 17 countries were chosen to receive $3.2 million in funding.
He said the GNI innovation challenge was part of Google’s $300 million commitment to helping journalism thrive in the digital era.
According to him, GNI has seen news innovators step forward with many exciting initiatives, demonstrating new thinking.
“This year, we seek to broaden our criteria to include digital innovation initiatives that promote goals like reader engagement, new reader income, subscriptions, and disinformation among other things.
“Following a thorough assessment, a round of interviews, and a final jury selection, 34 projects from 17 countries were chosen to receive $3.2 million in funding.
“The recipients met all the five criteria requirements including impact on the news ecosystem, equity and inclusion, inspiration, innovation, diversity, and feasibility,” he said.
According to him, some of the recipients include Kenya’s WANANCHI Reporting and South Africa’s Quote This Woman+.
According to Blecher, the recipients from Nigeria are Dubawa, The Republic, The Cable, HumAngle and Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ).
HumAngle seeks to build a platform for unlimited access to conflict, humanitarian and development reports with data inserts, explainers and highly interactive reports while the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) — owned by ‘Fisayo Soyombo, aims to undertake a News Impact Project (NIP) to create a help desk for members of the public facing social injustice, such that they can have direct access to the newsroom.
The Republic’s project is ATLAS — a digital platform which seeks to help newsrooms source and license quality images from photographers and photojournalists while Dubawa was selected for its plan to build an automated radio fact checker application that uses an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to collate claims for human fact-checkers.
The Cable was selected for its Disability Inclusion News App (TheCable DINA) – an application designed to assist people with visual impairments, auditory challenges and other forms of disabilities.
Blecher said the 2022 challenge received a total of 425 submissions from 42 countries, representing a 27 per cent increase in total applications.
He said that there was a significant increase in applications from news organisations undertaking fact-checking activities at 118 per cent when compared to previous innovation challenges in the region.
Blecher said the proposed projects which used artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) also showed significant growth, 92 per cent, reflecting a trend to embrace cutting-edge new technologies and data.
He added that recipients were from South Africa, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Congo, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Niger, Uganda and Burundi.