* Google is also expanding its efforts under Google News Initiative (GNI) efforts in India
Google said it is rolling out its News Showcase in India with 30 news organisations, a move aimed at incentivising and supporting publishers in the country to curate high-quality content on Google's News and Discover platforms.
The tech giant is also stepping up its efforts to strengthen digital skills in newsrooms and journalism schools across India and will train 50,000 journalists and journalism students over the next three years.
"We are launching News Showcase now to help publishers reach people with trustworthy news, especially in this critical time with the Covid crisis continuing. News Showcase panels highlight the articles publishers want, allow them to give additional context about a story, so audiences can better understand what's going on around them," Google Vice President (Product Management) Brad Bender said.
He added that these news panels ensure branding, and drive all traffic back to the website of the publishers that helps deepen the relationship with readers.
"We are also paying publishers for access to paywalled content to provide users free access to select content, enabling people to try content that they may not have otherwise seen on their journey to becoming a subscriber," he added.
Google News Showcase is rolling out in India with 30 news publishers including national, regional and local news organisations. Discussions are underway with more news partners to further expand the offering.
This builds on News Showcase deals signed by 700 news publications in more than a dozen countries, including Germany, Brazil, Canada, France, Japan, the UK, Australia, Czechia, Italy and Argentina.
Bender said Google sends 24 billion visits to news websites globally every month, helping people discover content via Google Search and also helps publishers monetise their platforms through a suite of products.
News has been a deep focus and commitment for Google and the company has been helping a large number of journalists and media players to reach out to customers, Google Country Head and Vice President, India Sanjay Gupta said.
Gupta noted that while consumption of news across print, television and digital is growing, there are changing consumer habits wherein more young consumers are leveraging reach of digital to access news and that this poses two significant challenges - branding and monetisation.
"We were very keen to get the Showcase to India... When you solve for India, you need to solve for languages in a very significant way and that's one capability that the product team was developing to help launch... Over the last 8-9 months, we spent a lot of time talking to each one of the publisher partners to see how we can both enable them and work with them," he said.
Content from Google's Indian publisher partners in English and Hindi will begin to appear in dedicated News Showcase panels in Google News and on Discover, and additional Indic languages will follow later.
Google Program Manager Tanuja Gupta stated that Google has not changed any of the ways that stories appear in the user's feed.
"...We have not artificially injected ranking or anything. We have swapped out regular articles with these premium content panels, making the brands more noticeable... Users can click on them and read other articles from publishers," she added.
Google is also expanding its efforts under Google News Initiative (GNI) efforts in India. Over the next three years, with increased support from the News Lab, the company intends to train 50,000 journalists and journalism students.
"We'll focus on digital tools to aid verification and combat misinformation online, and we'll expand our programs to connect Indian journalists and fact-checkers. Second, we are introducing several new programmes to help small and mid-sized publications achieve financial sustainability – all part of the GNI Digital Growth Program," Gupta said.
The programme has already trained executives at 100 Indian news organisations since its launch last year.
The new initiatives include new business training workshops, delivered virtually, to help news organisations address the needs of their audiences, grow their readership and deepen reader engagement.
These workshops will be available for free to Indian publishers, alongside Google's existing workshops to support business success for news organisations.
The GNI Advertising Lab will include training sessions and implementation support to help more than 800 small and mid-sized Indian news organizations grow their digital ad revenue, while the GNI Transformation Lab is a more comprehensive programme for 20 local small and mid-sized Indian news organizations to help them succeed online.
Gupta said these new and expanded programs build on years of investment in India.
In 2018, Google had launched the GNI India Training Network in partnership with BoomLive, DataLeads and Internews. To date, it has trained over 25,000 Indian journalists in 10 languages, touching more than 1,000 news organisations and more than 700 universities.
In response to COVID-19, the company has provided financial support to 228 news organisations in India through the GNI Journalism Emergency Relief Fund.