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July 24, 2018updated 12 Dec 2022 9:17am

Telegraph chatbot, Pink News LGBT advocacy platform and hyperlocal news revenue tool all receive Google funding

By Charlotte Tobitt

A Telegraph chatbot called Thornton, an advocacy platform connecting Pink News readers with LGBT causes and a commercial tool aiming to create a new revenue stream for hyperlocal news have all received funding from Google.

Pink News will launch an advocacy platform designed to help readers connect with LGBT causes around the world after being granted €299,338 (£266,665) in the latest round of Google’s Digital News Innovation Fund.

The LGBT news website will part-fund the new platform Google money and said work will begin shortly with the aim of launching in 2019.

It said the platform will connect Pink News readers to LGBT causes, activists and charities worldwide, amplifying the voices of LGBT people so they can actively engage with the issues they read about.

Pink News chief executive Benjamin Cohen said: “This upcoming platform is designed to be utilised by readers who want to do ‘more’ after reading a Pink News article or watching a Pink News video.

“At present readers on Pink News and across the web are only offered the opportunity to comment, like or share content that resonates with them. The new platform will include a variety of different actions that our readers can take.”

He added: “We are really excited that this grant by Google will help fund a considerable component of the costs of building this new platform.”

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The Google DNI fund has also granted €250,000 (£223,000) to a project designed to create new revenue streams for the community and hyperlocal news sector in response to fears over sustainability for independent publishers.

The Centre for Community Journalism, based at Cardiff University, will launch the Value My News project in collaboration with the Media Innovation Studio at the University of Central Lancashire.

It will develop new tools enabling community and hyperlocal news organisations to make money from selling their editorial content to other publishers for republication.

Participating publishers will also be able to copyright their existing hyperlocal news content.

The project will “transform the sector by capturing revenues otherwise leaking through the supply chain”, C4CJ said in a statement.

Emma Meese, project lead and director of the Independent Community News Network launched by C4CJ in January, said Value My News “has the potential to change the future of local news”.

She said: “Creating a platform that will help community and hyperlocal news publishers earn more money for the work they already produce has been a dream of ours for a long time.

“Our mission is to create more jobs for journalists at a local level and to ensure the quality of grassroots journalism in the UK is the best it can be.”

Meese added: “Bringing independent publishers together and surfacing their content in this way has never been done before.

“It will allow us, for the first time, to really understand the value and the journey of hyperlocal news which is hugely exciting.”

Telegraph Media Group has also been awarded Google DNI funding for Thornton, an “audio-first, AI-powered, cutting edge conversational chatbot and virtual concierge that informs, advises, guides and inspires”.

Thornton will launch initially in the Telegraph’s travel section and its “richer, more natural” interaction is designed to convert users into repeat visitors and then encourage registrations.

Google received 820 applications from 29 European countries for round five of the DNI funding, which had a focus on monetisation and diversifying revenue streams.

This round is offering €21.2m to 98 projects in 28 European countries, including €1.5m to eight projects in the UK.

In total, Google has now provided €115.2m in funding since the DNI launched in 2015 out of a total pot of €150m.

Picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

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