With three months left to India’s general elections, global search giant Google has announced its plans to support journalists covering the elections by training them in partnership with DataLeads and Internews under its Google News Initiative.
To be hosted across 30 cities in the next two months, the training will be given in multiple languages such as English, Hindi, Malayalam, Bangla, Kannada, Gujarati, Odia, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi.
Google News Initiatives offers training on online verification and fact-checking, journalist digital safety and security, YouTube for elections coverage and data visualization for elections.
Launched in March 2018, Google News Initiative will build efforts and deepen Google’s commitment to a news industry facing dramatic shifts in how journalism is created, consumed, and paid for. It’s focused on three objectives: elevate and strengthen quality journalism, evolve business models to drive sustainable growth; and empower news organisations through technological innovation.
Later in June 2018, the initiative was brought to India as Google News Initiative Training Network to support journalists from across the country in their fight against misinformation by providing them with in-depth and hands-on verification training. The training was to be imparted to 8,000 journalists across English and six other Indian languages over the coming year.
In six months, the company claims to have onboarded 241 trainers in seven languages, who trained 5260 journalists across more than 40 cities in India, benefitting over 200 newsrooms and universities.
Google now plans to train another 10K journalists in 2019. The PollCheck training series is for working journalists and freelancers. Journalism students can also register. One can choose the city and apply here.
In December 2018, Google selected 10 Indian media companies out of 87 for funding under its Google News Initiative, as part of its YouTube-specific funding to support media companies. This included Asianet News Media, Bharatiya digital party (BhaDiPa), FACTLY, Gaon Connection, India Today Group, Live Data Visualisation Pvt Ltd, NDTV, NYOOOZ, ShepHertz, and Video Volunteers.
At present, popular social media companies like Facebook and Twitter are also busy getting themselves prepared for Indian general elections as they target political advertisers in India to control the fake news being share across platforms.
Here’s a quick look at actions being taken to ensure free and fair Indian General elections:
- Twitter expanded its political ads policy and transparency approach to India, Australia and all European Union member states in an attempt to enforce stricter policies for political advertisers and providing clear and transparent disclosures of all ads on the platform
- In December 2018, Facebook said it will now vet every political advertiser on its platform. An advertiser who wants to run an ad in India related to politics will need to first confirm their identity and location along with details about who placed the ad.
- Google India had launched a slate of monitoring and policy initiatives to bring more transparency to election ads and the company to introduce an India-specific Political Advertising Transparency Report and searchable political ads library which will be a one-stop shop for comprehensive information about who is purchasing election ads on Google’s platforms and for how much.
As the internet giants come together to challenge fake news ahead of elections, the training to journalists may be a big step in the direction.