Google News Initiative Journalism Emergency Relief Fund announced it was supporting 16 Nigerian publications with funding.
Launched in April, the JERF serves to help local publishers facing financial hardship as a result of the economic and advertising downturn.
“JERF has provided $39.5m in funding to publishers in 115 countries in the past few months,” Ludovic Blecher, Head of Google News Initiative Innovation said.
According to him, “The money is being applied in diverse and creative ways from ensuring basic reporting needs, giving emergency stipends to allow reporters to cover the crisis, to driving audience engagement and generating subscriptions.
“Additionally, a significant number also said they are prioritising a need for cultural change, including a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion as well as organisational and business management changes.”
Within the first two weeks of launch, JERF had received applications from 12,000 publishers across the globe, with newsroom sizes ranging from an average of 20 in Asia Pacific to eight in North America.
“The massive response gave us the opportunity to understand what ‘local’ means in different parts of the globe and how dynamics ranging from newsroom size to ownership structure can differ depending on the region and the kinds of communities served,” Blecher says.
According to an optional reader revenue survey GNI conducted: “Advertising continues to be the sole source of revenue for most recipients with 50% claiming to be totally advertising dependent.
“The survey also showed that less than 30% operate some form of a paywall while less than 18% rely on community contributions or memberships to support their journalism.
“However, the situation is changing with 60% of the recipients planning to diversify their revenue streams through developing subscription, membership or contribution models.”
Blecher added: “The pandemic has affected everyone and local news organisations have been at the forefront in helping their communities navigate COVID.
“At the Google News Initiative, we are trying to play our part with this funding and other initiatives as we all work towards the common goal of a sustainable, innovative and diverse news ecosystem globally.”
Beneficiaries of the Fund in Nigeria are Aledeh.com, City Mirror News, Daily Nigerian, News Wire NGR, Lagos Post Media, Newsfeed Nigeria, Premium Times and Sundiata Post.
Others are Sunrise Newspaper, Tell Magazine, The Daily Times, The Daily Report, The Eagle Online, The Median, TNG and The Punch (including Saturday Punch, Sunday Punch and Punch Online).