The project will cover nine languages, including Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, Gujarati, and English
Google will impart training, technical support and funding to help select publications improve their digital operations and enhance their readership
The initiative comes amid Google’s tug-of-war with Indian authorities on a range of issues from a crackdown on fake news to mounting competition concerns
Tech major Google on Friday (June 16) announced the launch of a new initiative for small and medium-sized vernacular news publishers in India
Called the Indian Languages Program, the project is the brainchild of Google News Initiative (GNI) and will support local news publishers in nine languages, including Hindi, Kannada, Tamil and Marathi. The initiative will also support news platforms in languages such as Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, Gujarati, and English.
“Google News Initiative (GNI) today announced the launch of the Indian Languages Program, a new initiative by Google, designed to support local news publishers in India,” the tech major said in a statement.
Under this, Google will impart training, technical support and funding to help the selected publications improve their digital operations and enhance their readership. The initiative will also offer mentorship, dedicated consultations and technical implementation support to the selected startups.
The tech major has also invited applications, which will remain open for submission till June 30, from eligible news publishers.
The Google News Initiative has also underlined a long list of eligibility criteria for enrolment. This includes news publishers who are registered in India and have a minimum of 50 full-time employees. The applicants should be ‘small or mid-sized Indian language news organisations with a functional website and a minimum of 12 months of continuous operations
The initiative has also been kept open for non-profit news organisations, ‘digital natives’ and broadcasters.
Subsequently, the requests will be evaluated by a Google team and external consultants, and a select number of publications will be shortlisted for the programme.
The selected local news publishers will then undergo a ‘diagnosis process’ under which their website will be evaluated on a host of parameters such as page speed, and core web vitals performance, among others. Afterwards, Google will offer personalised support to publishers to address bottlenecks and streamline the user experience.
“… publishers will receive personalised guidance and support in addressing the identified areas for improvement, including remediation of issues related to core web vitals, schema, site manifests, mobile usability, content formats, and additional revenue enhancement solutions,” Google said.
The initiative comes amid Google’s tug-of-war with Indian authorities on a range of issues from a crackdown on fake news to mounting competition concerns. In the line of government’s fire in recent months, Google has announced a slew of initiatives to expand its outreach programme and ease its relations with the central government.
Interestingly, Google also faces a competition probe for its alleged dominance in the news aggregation space. A slew of major media organisations have filed their cases before the Competition Commission of India (CCI) in this regard.
Despite the hiccups, there is a lot at stake for Google for India. As per its estimates, India’s internet economy is projected to soar from $175 Bn in 2022 to nearly $1 Tn by 2030. With the internet and smartphone penetration set to rise in the coming years, the company could see a major boom in its fortunes, owing to its monopoly in areas such as search, operating system and other digital products.