Google, along with several other financial supporters such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the World Association of Newspapers & News Producers, have announced that it will be funding grants that help promote and enable journalism across Africa.
The African News Innovation Challenge, according its official website, â€œis the continentâ€™s largest fund for supporting new media experimentation and digital news start-ups in everything from data driven journalism and investigative reporting, to newsroom management, audience engagement, digital convergence, and media business models.â€
The ANIC is a branch of the African Media Initiativeâ€™s broader project to assist African countries to utilize digital media tools in a way that hopefully improves the quality and impact of African journalism.
The competition launched on May 10, and the deadline to submit ideas for the first round is until July 10. Entries must be submitted to this website by midnight Central African Time on July 10, 2012. While news pioneers from anywhere in the world are welcome, all entries must have an African partner that will help develop and test the innovation. Entries will be judged by an international jury, and finalists will get a chance to refine their proposals during one-on-one mentoring sessions at a â€œtech campâ€ in Zanzibar in August 2012.
A post on Googleâ€™s official blog, the company is funding $1 million for the challenge.
The News Innovation Challenge will provide grants ranging from $12,500 to $100,000 for project proposals falling into four categories: news gathering, storytelling, audience engagement and the business of news. Proposals can include ideas that improve everything from data-based investigative journalism and crowd-sourced citizen reporting, to new ways of distributing news on mobile platforms, or new revenue models that help wean media off a reliance on advertising.
Africa also has the slowest average internet connection speed of any continent (excluded Antarctica, of course). Given these technological obstacles, it will undoubtedly require an inventive mind to be able to conceive â€œdisruptive digital ideasâ€ that eventually land entrants in the winnerâ€™s circle.
The winners will be announced at the Africaâ€™s largest gathering of media owners and executives, at the Africa Media Leaders Forum, in Ivory Coast in November 2012.