Crikey, Guardian Australia and Mamamia among five Australian Google News Initiative winners

Crikey, Guardian Australia and Mamamia are among five Australian winners of the Google News Initiative Asia Pacific Innovation Challenge.

Women’s Agenda and the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) round out the list of local recipients. Google chose 23 projects worldwide to share in $3.2m funding, from a total of 215 applications.

The applications stretched across 18 countries, responding to four criteria: impact, feasibility, innovation and inspiration. Fourteen countries were represented in the winners list.

GNI APAC (Click to enlarge)

Applicants faced an intense interview and jury selection process, Google said, noting that some common themes were evident across the proposed projects: building or renovating membership models (such as Crikey’s successful application), leveraging machine learning and AI, and the gamification of sharing or commenting on content.

“The process was rigorous but positive,” Crikey publisher, Tamsin Creed, told Mumbrella.

“The team from Google GNI were collaborative and transparent with their process, which helped. The process was also helped by the fact that we have made our membership model an area of focus for the past 18 months, so the application was really just a final step in a long process.”

Notably, more than 90% of Crikey’s revenue comes from individual subscribers. With its GNI funding, the independent publisher plans to build a new subscription offering that can be tailored to organisations and businesses of all sizes.

“We’ve had a subscriber or membership model for 19 years now, and find that a loyal, engaged readership willing to pay for your product can insulate you from most market changes,” Creed added.

“We’re happy to work with Google to continue to innovate this model.”

This is just the latest in a string of recent wins for Crikey, which was one of the few successful publishers to receive government innovation funding, and subsidies to hire journalism cadets. Last month, it also announced a hiring spree to build out a team committed to ‘inquiry journalism’, following an injection of funding from shareholders John B Fairfax and Cameron O’Reilly.

Off the back of its win, Guardian Australia will develop, prototype and user-test technology that allows the timed release of interactive content while audio plays on mobile devices. According to Guardian Australia, this will enhance the user experience and make it easier for listeners to make financial contributions to publishers and audio creators.

“Guardian Australia is in a unique position to undertake this innovation challenge. We have a successful reader revenue model, established relationships with podcast services and a strong culture of innovation,” Dan Stinton, managing director of Guardian Australia, told Mumbrella.

“We look forward to sharing our learnings with other publishers to help them apply this technology to their audio content.”

Dan Stinton, managing director of Guardian Australia

The CBAA will use the funding to pilot a fundraising platform for the community radio sector.

“Over 450 community radio stations serve almost six million listeners across Australia each week,” said CEO Jo Bisset.

“This pilot will develop digital infrastructure to increase digital news content being created and delivered by community broadcasters while assisting them to raise funds online.”

Recently, the CBAA also received $2.8m funding from the Community Broadcasting Foundation to improve the quality and reliability of news content available to the community broadcasting sector.

There will be a second round of the GNI Asia Pacific challenge later this year.


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