Nigerian company, others win Google challenge, to receive $1.93m lifeline

Ringier Africa Digital Publishing in Nigeria is one of the seven news organisations that won the Google News Initiative innovation challenge and among those to receive $1.93 million in funding.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the countries that were awarded were Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa.
Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Google Communication Officer, West Africa, said the GNI Innovation Challenges was part of Google’s $300 million commitment to help journalism thrive in the digital age.
Kola-Ogunlade said finding new and meaningful ways to engage readers was a hot topic for news organisations of any size and also their challenge.
He said the first Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa prompted a myriad of different approaches.
According to him, the GNI Innovation Challenge, part of Google’s $300 million commitment to help journalism thrive in the digital age, saw news innovators step forward with new thinking.
He said: “We launched the Middle East, Turkey and Africa Innovation Challenge in June 2019 and received 527 applications from 35 countries.
“After a rigorous review, a round of interviews and a final jury selection process, we selected 21 projects from 13 countries to receive $1.93 million in funding.
“There are seven projects from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa respectively.”
According to him, the call for applications listed four criteria: impact, feasibility, innovation and inspiration, with the successful projects clearly demonstrating all four.
Kola-Ogunlade gave one of the awardees as Demir&ren Teknoloji Anonim Şirketi in Turkey.
The firm wanted to solve the tagging process for the Turkish language to help with the news discovery distribution process.
He said at present, the work required cumbersome manual work from their journalists, taking a precious share of their time.
Another awardee is Daily News publisher, Israel Hayom, who was creating a loyalty scheme where online users could get real-life rewards in the form of tickets or money-saving offers.
Nas News, another winner, wants to engage Iraq’s citizens in video debates for positive change with a mobile-first social and news platform that allows users to read and debate on local and national topics.
L’Orient le Jour in Lebanon wants to build a new loyalty plan to offer special and personalised privileges to subscribers via an interactive platform.
The National in the UAE will develop a service that converts quality text news into audio in real time, in both English and Arabic.
Ringier Africa Digital Publishing in Nigeria will be increasing personalisation across their platform using a blend of prediction, recommendation and local information pages to increase user engagement.
Kola-Ogunlade announced that a second round of the Middle East, Turkey and Africa Innovation Challenge would open for applications later in the year and advised interested media to watch for details on the GNI website.