Jay CabozBy Jay Caboz|May 27, 2022|4 Minutes|In Billionaire Tomorrow


What is the Google News initiative? 

In November 2018, Google launched the Google News Initiative to fund projects that inject new ideas into the news industry. 

“It’s an initiative by Google to help publishers and media houses earn revenue and fight misinformation,” says tech expert Brenden Petersen, founder of Reframed Group.


Google spent the equivalent of around R28 million ($1.9 million) on projects in 30 countries across Africa, the Middle East and Turkey, at an average of some R1.35 million per project, reports Business Insider South Africa.


The projects included: South Africa’s Daily Maverick, that used the money to develop a ‘relevancy engine’ for small and medium publishers to help them aggregate better reader insights to increase relevancy and increase subscriptions; Ringier Africa Digital Publishing in Nigeria; it used the funding to increase personalisation across its platform using a blend of prediction, recommendation and local information pages to increase user engagement; and Kenya’s Africa Uncensored to gather news from members of the public for a mass audience.


A further $2.1 million (R30 million) was made available for a second round at the beginning of this year where 22 individual projects were selected to receive funding of up to R2.1 million ($150,000) for projects focusing specifically on reader engagement and exploring new business models.


An issue is that Africa appears to be getting the short end of the stick. From its 2020 impact report the money into the Middle East and African segment was a mere $4 million which funded 160 news partners.


This was vastly lower in comparison to other regions like North America that received the largest funding of $61 million for some 2,000 media partners, or South America which received $26 million for 1,190, which received the 2nd lowest funding.

“While it’s an interesting, and much needed, initiative, I don’t think that it does enough for Africa. The fellowship aspect of the Google News Initiative (GNI) focuses on journalism students in the United States, South Korea, Europe and Australia,” says Petersen.

“There are resources available for people from around the world, but only one site for courses for people based on the African continent. While it can help local media houses and publishers better utilise Google’s platforms for their publications, it’s not a replacement for on-the-job or in-school training.”

Altogether the Google News Initiative has supported over 6,000 news partners in 118 countries with $189 million.


In 2020 Alphabet (the owner of Google) earned $183 billion revenue of which $147 billion comes from people like you and me paying for clicks that makes up 80% of the company’s revenue.

“Google hasn’t publicly announced how much ad revenue they’ve made in Africa, however it’s reported that in 2019 the company made $18 billion in revenue in Africa. Back in the first quarter of 2017, Google made $8.1 billion in revenue in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, which was a 13% increase from the same quarter the previous year. Considering all of this, it seems safe to assume that Google is making upwards of $20 billion in revenue in Africa,” says Petersen.

Can people writing the news earn a slice of that $20 billion? It could be one of the big questions in the media in 2022 and beyond.