Google launches a multi-million dollar media innovation challenge for Africa and Middle East

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Google Africa Head of Communications Dorothy Ooko, Media Council of Kenya chairman Dr. Julius Kinyeki, Ministry of ICT Information Secretary Judy Munyinyi, and Head of Google News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Ludovic Blecher during the official launch of the GNI Innovation Challenge at a Nairobi hotel.

By TECH CORRESPONDENT

Google and other technology giants should take bold steps to counter fake news and misinformation the Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Technology, Mr Joe Mucheru, said on Wednesday.

Mr Mucheru in a speech read on his behalf by Information Secretary, Ms Judy Munyinyi, said that technology has now given anyone with an Internet connection the ability to broadcast a news event to the world in real time a development that had come new challenges like fake news and misinformation.

“There is also an urgent need to counter efforts seeking to deceive, harm, or take advantage of users,” he added.

Mr Mucheru said technology companies should develop futureproof quality journalism based on a system that should work in such a way that news publishers who apply the highest standards of journalistic ethics in fairness, accuracy and transparency gravitate towards being more represented in news results.

Mr Mucheru said there is need to ensure that, online tools, which are managed by organizations such as Google, that do not have an editorial point of view, are designed to connect newsreaders with a broad array of information and perspectives to help them develop their own point of view and make informed decisions.

The CS was speaking at a Nairobi hotel during the launch of  Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge said Internet users need the best help they can from technology companies to discover authentic and authoritative news sources.

The GNI Innovation Challenge serves as a way for news innovators across the world to come up with creative strategies to incorporate digital journalism into their more traditional news-gathering and sharing processes. And, in doing so, develop new business models for the industry.

Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Technology, Mr Joe Mucheru. PHOTO/COURTESY

Proposals will be accepted for projects from news organisations of all sizes – from traditional publishers to news start-ups – that want to do something different and build innovative digital media projects in the process. HOW TO APPLY

Mr Ludovic Blecher, head of the GNI, said the editorial world can no longer just copy and paste the same editorial recipes as the market has changed and the news industry has to explore unique business models to survive as news consumers are consuming content via new channels and in new ways.

Mr Blecher said GNI challenge is focused on increasing reader engagement and supporting the media as they brainstorm how to stay relevant in an ever-changing digital world while using technology to have a real impact on the entire news ecosystem.

A panel will evaluate submissions for the challenge and fund selected ideas for up to 70 percent of the total cost of the project, with a maximum of $150 000 being handed out for the best ideas.

Mr Mucheru the mass media in Kenya can help spur economic development by interrogating and keeping check on public policy, harnessing diverse opinions on governance and funneling public consensus towards progressive change.

“Secondly, data and information-driven innovations have the opportunity to birth new business models in the news media and to grow existing models,” he noted.

He observed that the government was committed to fostering a healthy and diverse news ecosystem as journalism is very important to strong, functioning societies.

“Additionally, mass media is key in supporting the growth of emerging and existing homegrown enterprises in the news ecosystem – whether large or small,” said.

The function was also attended by the Media Council of Kenya chairman Dr. Julius Kinyeki and chief executive officer (CEO), Mr David Omwoyo.

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