Google opens relief fund to local news publishers during coronavirus outbreak

Google has launched a global emergency relief fund for local news publishers to help them during the coronavirus (Covid-19) downturn.

Local news organisations, including those in the UK, can apply for funding online from today.

The Journalism Emergency Relief Fund, part of the Google News Initiative, is open to small and medium-sized news publishers “producing original news for local communities during this time of crisis”.

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Local news publishers are among the hardest hit by the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Advertising revenue has collapsed as events are cancelled and advertisers face their own commercial concerns, while sales and free pick-ups of papers have fallen as people stay at home.

“Local news is a vital resource for keeping people and communities connected in the best of times,” said Google News vice president Richard Gingras.

“Today, it plays an even greater function in reporting on local lockdowns or shelter at home orders, school and park closures, and data about how Covid-19 is affecting daily life.”

Funding will be made in one instalment in either US dollars or Euros, ranging from a few thousand for small hyper-local newsrooms to tens of thousands for larger newsrooms.

Applications close at midnight on 29 April.

They will then be reviewed by teams of Google staff with “experience in digital publishing and journalism”. Publishers must also enrol as a Google partner in order to receive the funding.

Google said it will reveal successful applications at the end of the process.

The fund is targeted at newsrooms ranging from two full-time employees up to 100 full-time employees, although local publishers with larger staff numbers will be considered at Google’s discretion.

Multiple funding applications from different publications within the same publishing group are permitted, but each publication can only submit one application.

Google said it may cap funding at the publisher level in the interest of sharing the relief money as widely as possible.

The funds must be spent on the provision of original journalism.

Apply here.

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