Google's Sh2.5 billion news initiative to boost publishers operations

By Eugene Okumu | Wednesday, Aug 1st 2018 at 12:45
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Digital news content producers will further have access to funding for innovative publishing tools and techniques. [Courtesy]

News organizations are set to benefit from a Google programme aimed at supporting content creation in the digital age.

The programme titled the Google News Initiative is especially vital to videos produced by news organizations for publishing on the information giant's YouTube platform.

The kitty will come in handy in the wake of misinformation on social media platforms globally.

During Kenya's 2017 general elections, campaign propaganda surfaced online in favour of some candidates and heavily critical of others.

Some of the information, it later emerged, was purposely false with the intention of exaggerating the idealness of some candidates while excessively critical of others.

"Over the past 20 years, we've grappled with the tension between the freedom of information the web enables and the need to ensure trust in information. Elevating accurate, quality content, and stemming the flow of misinformation is a challenge that requires collaboration across the news industry, the research community, and digital platforms," said Google News VP Richard Gingras.

The programme by Google is not unlike adjustment in operations by social media platform Facebook.

The company early this year started a move to rein in misinformation by tweaking its newsfeed algorithm to give prominence to content from trusted publishers.

Facebook at the same time deployed its algorithm to highlight and give less prominence to content deemed to be false or misleading in nature.

YouTube's own version of a newsfeed filter is the top news shelf, which features video content from news publishers. This is prominently placed in search results and on the YouTube homepage.

News outlets that partner with Google for the news initiative will benefit on three fronts.

Organizations will be have access to Google's expertise on digital content dissemination to develop new products and improved news experience on YouTube.

Digital news content producers will further have access to funding for innovative publishing tools and techniques. 

The funding to innovate will be provided on an application basis and will enable building of key capabilities, train staff on video best practices, enhance production facilities and develop formats optimized for online video.

Finally, Google's news initiative programme will provide support for news publishers with direct links to specialists globally. These specialists will enable GNI partners to apply best practice in formats, audience development and regular operations as well as more complex technical integrations.

"We know there is a lot of work to do, but we're eager to provide a better experience to users who come to YouTube every day to learn more about what is happening in the world," said Neal Mohan, YouTube's Chief Product Officer. 

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