Google on Thursday announced an accelerator programme 'GNI Startups Lab India' for independent local or single-subject journalism organisations in the country.
Under its Google News Initiative (GNI), the tech giant will offer a four-month programme that "seeks to help independent local or single-subject journalism organisations find a pathway to financial and operational sustainability through intensive coaching, skills training and other support".
Created in partnership with Echos (a global innovation lab) and DIGIPUB News India Foundation, the GNI Startups Lab India programme will support high-quality reporting for local and underserved communities, Google said in a blog post.
It added that news startups publishing in all Indian languages can apply for the programme. Applications are open until October 18, 2021, and 10 independent digital news publishers will be selected to participate in the first cohort in India.
Access to trustworthy information is vital for all components of a thriving democracy, Google said.
"Through the years, we have kept up consistent efforts to help with continued access to quality journalism, contributing to the sustainability of news organisations, supporting emerging news business models and enabling newsrooms to engage their readers in new ways through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond," it added.
The 16-week programme is tailored to the needs of startup newsrooms in India and participants will benefit from Echos' experience in supporting media startups and DIGIPUB's network and community with workshops as well as coaching.
In May, Google had announced the expansion of Google News Showcase, its online experience and its licensing programme to support news organisations and readers, to India.
Google said it has added support for four new languages - Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu - in addition to English and Hindi in the dedicated News Showcase panels in Google News and on Discover.
This will help more readers get access to quality news in their languages.
With the addition of these new languages and new partners today, it has now onboarded more than 50 partners, representing more than 70 publications.