Project Leaders: Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds, Bergis Jules, and Candice Mays

S. E. Williams | Executive Editor

The Google News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge has awarded Black Voice News (BVN)  $300,000 in support of “Save the Black Press,” a bold call to action to innovate revenue and sustainability solutions at Black news organizations through the creation of the Data Access and Content Discovery Hub (DACDH).

“Today we are announcing an important list of projects selected for the second round of the Google News Initiative’s North American Innovation Challenge,” stated Google in a digital announcement on Dec. 15. 

“It is especially important this year to tackle innovative ideas, and the 33 projects we’re funding look at diversity, equity and inclusion through many different lenses, all focused around the communities they serve.” The GNI Innovation Challenge received 215 applications from the US and Canada. 

In 2018 Google announced a $300 million commitment to support the news industry in its effort to address its biggest needs in a rapidly changing technologically driven environment. As part of this pledge, Google launched GNI Innovation Challenge to fund projects that drive digital innovation and develop new business models with the intent of producing learnings and thought leadership that can be shared with the wider industry.

This round of funding is focused on projects that generate growth and diversification of revenue for local media who elevate underrepresented audiences and promote diversity, equity and inclusion within their journalism.

“Save the Black Press” is a call to action pushing the conversation around the future of Black media and it’s sustainability through the construction of a collaborative network of Black newspapers converging forces and talents to produce modernized, data informed, data visualized journalism bolstering the work of the Black Press as an industry and its journalists into long term sustainability.”

– Candice Mays, BVN’s Mapping Black California Project Manager and DACDH Partnerships Manager

BVN is an accountability news organization reporting on the economic, cultural and social issues impacting Black people in California. In a moment when data, digital mapping and research are redefining storytelling and news operations, BVN is committed to leveraging these innovations to modernize revenue and sustainability goals for its organization with the support of project partners AVP, Grey Alien Technologies, and Shift Collective.

Bergis Jules, Design Consultant, Archivist and Project Manager for the initiative, believes when Black news organizations can access and analyze accurate and usable data about the Black population for reporting stories, they can produce more powerful content that can in turn lead to higher audience engagement and a more informed public.

“High audience engagement is also key to generating new revenue streams that can help to sustain Black news organizations,” Jules said. We are excited that the GNI Innovation Challenge will give us an opportunity to put this model into action.”

“Save the Black Press” is pushing the conversation around the future of Black media and it’s sustainability through the construction of a collaborative network of Black newspapers converging forces and talents to produce modernized, data informed, data visualized journalism bolstering the work of the Black Press as an industry and its journalists into long term sustainability,” said Candice Mays, BVN’s Mapping Black California Project Manager and DACDH Partnerships Manager.

In 2016 BVN launched Mapping Black California (MBC), a community mapping and geo journalism initiative that utilizes data analysis and visualization. 

“It was clear from our MBC work that we needed to take a step back and focus on gaining better access to data disaggregated by race,” said Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds, BVN Publisher, MBC Founder and DACDH Co-Founder.

“Being a recipient of this funding is a great opportunity to explore some of our ideas and find solutions to many of the challenges we’ve experienced in our own data journalism and data visualization work,” she acknowledged.

BVN’s proposed technology platform will provide several services including data acquisition, normalization, correlation and a data explorer. In addition, it will offer content publishing by enabling Black news organizations to submit news stories to the content discovery platform where a member of the public can search for relevant content and read and share stories.

S. E. Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News.