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Trinity Mirror, Johnston Press, FT and The Ferret among UK publishers to receive Google innovation cash

By Dominic Ponsford

Trinity Mirror is the largest recipient in a new round of grants from Google under its €150m three-year Digital News Initiative.

The tech giant has announced funding for a further 124 innovative digital news projects across Europe which will receive a total of €24m.

Trinity Mirror is the only UK grant recipient among 31 large projects to receive grants of up to €1m.

It is using the money fund Project Vario which is a new take on “promoted content”, the system whereby companies such as Outbrain pay publishers to add a widget to their news stories promoting content on other websites.

Trinity Mirror said in its pitch for Project Vario: “For too long, promoted content businesses have been seducing publishers with guaranteed revenue, at the expense of user experience, and in exchange for data, and placements on article pages.

“Project Vario will attempt to develop a compelling alternative to promoted content links in publisher apps; instead focusing on exclusive, targeted promotional offers that have real-life value to the users who wish to redeem them.”

The following UK “medium” projects will receive funding of up to €300,000 each:

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  • TRUE 212 Ltd which is “creating a product which uses semantic analysis and machine learning to analyze a site’s content, and provide concept and asset recommendations to site editors, bloggers and journalists”
  • Johnston Press for LoPOP which is “a mobile platform that delivers location-specific, trending content, combining the authority and reach of established news publishers, geo-specific sites and community blogs..powered by social media but also editorially curated”
  • The Financial Times for a project which “aims to increase engagement with FT content by creating intelligence about the quality of metadata tagging and making it available to the newsroom”.

The following are among UK “prototype” projects will receive funding of up to €50,000 each:

  • TapeWrite which “provides an audio publishing tool that allows storytellers to deliver a deeper listening experience via additional text, links and pictures”
  • Factmata which “a state-of-the-art claim detection and fact checking system for claims made in digital media content”
  • Coventry University for “Play the News VR brings together the use of interactive 360 degree films and virtual reality to enhance an audience’s understanding of a news story”
  • Ferret Media for Ferret Fact check which “will examine claims made by those in positions of power. The fact-checking will be intelligent and authoritative and show all the source material and workings while making clear where fact ends and spin begins”
  • Full Fact for FACTS which claims it will be “the first fully automated factchecking tool”.

More details from Google about the Digital News Initiative.

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