News & Tech interviews Ben Shaw
 on Google News Initiative

Search engine's effort to support quality journalism

News & Tech put a few questions to Google News Initiative’s Ben Shaw about the search engine giant’s news-related endeavors.
Ben Shaw, Innovation Challenges Operations Manager of Google News Initiative.
Ben Shaw, Innovation Challenges Operations Manager of Google News Initiative.

News & Tech: What is Google’s goal in engaging with the news industry?

Shaw: The Google News Initiative brings together the work we have done over the last fifteen years and represents a major milestone as we play our part to collaborate with the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age. We work with the industry in three ways: via products, partnerships and programs. Through rounds of regional funding, the GNI Innovation Challenges empower news innovators from around the world to demonstrate new thinking in online journalism and the development of new publishing business models. In turn, we plan to share knowledge generated from the projects with the wider industry.

News & Tech: What has been GNI’s most successful project so far?

Shaw: The GNI engages with publishers in so many ways that there are successes to share from every corner. From the Innovation Challenges to News Lab, to training and partnerships, the cloud program and the Digital News Innovation Fund, there are many successes that are being celebrated and shared. Past innovation programs have produced ideas for a new kind of paywallor a new way of distributing news. Others produced new thinking on an organization’s workflowsand the way social media unlocks audiences. 

News & Tech: How have news companies reacted to your efforts?  

Shaw: We’ve been heartened by the engagement from so many people looking to drive innovation in different sectors of the industry and the ideas that they are coming up with — like that of CommonWealth Magazine, a Taiwanese news magazine, which will be working on an improved paywall to increase subscriptions and an experiment by Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, to allow readers to give a “tip” to valuable stories to encourage engagement by potential subscribers  During our efforts to spur innovation in journalism in Europe and Asia-Pacific through the DNI Fund and the Asia Pacific Innovation Challenge, we’ve reviewed over 5,000 applications and selected over 1,000 for interviews and subsequently funded just under 700 projects. Over 90 percent of projects that have finished say they wouldn’t have been able to do the project without our funding.

News & Tech: How do GNI’s efforts link to Google News?

The GNI and Google News have a similar goal in that they are both focused on quality journalism. Google News is our flagship news product which uses the best of artificial intelligence to find the best of human intelligence via quality reporting to help inform and educate people across the globe. The GNI’s goal is to help journalism thrive as publications across the world make the transition to digital.

Ben Shaw was formerly director of global advisory for WAN-IFRA and chief digital officer for Shaw Media (Illinois). He’s based in Frankfurt, Germany. 
Published with permission from Mary Van Meter, publisher and editor in chief, News & Tech.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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