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How early-stage news publishers achieve sustainability

In December 2020, the Google News Initiative and LION Publishers launched the first-ever GNI Startups Lab in North America. By March 2021, 10 early-stage publishers had been selected to partake in an intensive, six-month accelerator program, during which they received coaching and financial support to help their businesses become more sustainable.Today, we’re sharing a comprehensive…

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In December 2020, the Google News Initiative and LION Publishers launched the first-ever GNI Startups Lab in North America. By March 2021, 10 early-stage publishers had been selected to partake in an intensive, six-month accelerator program, during which they received coaching and financial support to help their businesses become more sustainable.

Today, we’re sharing a comprehensive report on this cohort of the GNI Startups Lab which documents everything that we learned during our time together, including the new strategies that digital publishers are using to build their businesses and connect with their communities.

Over the course of the Lab, it became clear that sustainability for independent news businesses lies at the nexus of financial health, journalistic impact and operational resilience. Many of the participants made terrific strides in making their businesses more resilient for the long-term:

  • Amy Duncan is the founder and publisher of the Indianola Independent Advocate (IAA) in Central Iowa. A former Des Moines Register executive, Amy focused on improving her bandwidth as a founder, which meant learning how to develop operational workflows so that she can expand her team. Taking the advice of her dedicated Startups Lab coach, Amy added two part-time employees to IAA’s payroll. Expanding her team freed up more of Amy’s time to make crucial improvements to IAA’s digital advertising system and to explore adding programmatic ads to the website. “Before this program I didn’t realize, or accept, how much time I need to be spending on the business side. We’d been getting by on running subscription and revenue efforts when I felt like it, but I now know that I need to spend a large percentage of my time focused squarely on the business side.”
  • Kara Meyberg Guzman has always been passionate about local news, even selling her car to help launch Santa Cruz Local in 2019. But it was not until recently that Kara realized the need to measure success beyond revenue and membership growth. Each team member now tracks their mental and emotional health and discusses the results at a weekly meeting. Measuring staff health led Santa Cruz Local to redistribute work among their team members and to implement a company retirement plan for full-time employees. “Through the GNI Startups Lab, I’ve learned that operational resilience — an ability for our team to work together to achieve shared goals, without burnout — is equally important,” Kara said. The Lab also helped Santa Cruz Local cultivate an experimentation mindset across all aspects of the organization, including implementing quarterly OKRs. “We learned how to divide tasks, build staff capacity, set measurable goals, track our progress, make room for small experiments, and say no to things that distract us from our purpose. Our team is so much stronger than we were a year ago.”
  • Wausau Pilot & Review founder Shereen Siewert was concerned about the lack of news produced for and consumed by the large Hmong community in Wausau, Wisconsin. With support from her coach, Shereen developed an outreach strategy to help Wausau’s journalists to connect with the local Hmong community, including distributing surveys and in-person booths at local community events. Wausau grew their monthly non-English speaking audience by more than 20% during the Lab, and is building deeper connections with this historically underserved community. “Participating in the GNI Startups Lab was a game-changer for us. We left the program feeling much more confident about our sustainability and learned so much from our colleagues along the way.”

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Step into the Meroë pyramids with Google

When you think of pyramids does your mind wander to the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt or the Mayan Temples of Guatemala? Great civilizations built each of these pyramids and inscribed their stories onto the walls of them, offering glimpses into their daily life.The Pyramids of Meroë in Sudan, while lesser known, are no different.…

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When you think of pyramids does your mind wander to the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt or the Mayan Temples of Guatemala? Great civilizations built each of these pyramids and inscribed their stories onto the walls of them, offering glimpses into their daily life.

The Pyramids of Meroë in Sudan, while lesser known, are no different. Today, you can explore these stunning pyramids, which are a UNESCO World Heritage site, on Google Arts & Culture.

Over 200 pyramids were constructed in Meroë, the third and final capital of the Kushite Kingdom, an ancient African civilization that ruled the lands of Nubia for over 3000 years. Now you can take a virtual walk through the Pyramids of Meroë and explore the inscriptions using Street View’s panoramic imagery. You can also learn more about the Kushite Kingdom, their royalty and the architecture behind the pyramids in an immersive web experience that’s available in a range of languages including Arabic, English, French, German and Spanish.

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Bay View is open — the first campus built by Google

Taking green building to a new scaleTo deliver on our commitment to operate every hour of every day on carbon-free energy by 2030, we prioritized renewable energy and maximized the solar potential of our buildings. Bay View’s first-of-its-kind dragonscale solar skin and nearby wind farms will power it on carbon-free energy 90% of the time.The…

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Taking green building to a new scale

To deliver on our commitment to operate every hour of every day on carbon-free energy by 2030, we prioritized renewable energy and maximized the solar potential of our buildings. Bay View’s first-of-its-kind dragonscale solar skin and nearby wind farms will power it on carbon-free energy 90% of the time.

The campus is also on track to be the largest project certified by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) under any of their programs, at any certification level. As part of ILFI’s Living Building Challenge, we’re targeting a Water Petal certification, meaning the site is net-positive with all non-potable water demands being met using the recycled water generated on site. Above-ground ponds that gather rainwater year round and a building wastewater treatment system serve as water sources for cooling towers, flushing toilets and irrigating the landscape. This is a big step toward delivering on our commitment to replenish 120% of the water we consume by 2030.

It doesn’t stop there. Bay View is an example of an all-electric campus and shows what’s possible in regenerative building. Here’s how:

  • The two kitchens that serve seven cafes are equipped with electric equipment rather than gas — a template for fully carbon-free cafes and kitchens.
  • There are 17.3 acres of high-value natural areas — including wet meadows, woodlands and a marsh — that are designed to reestablish native landscapes and rehabilitate Bay Area wetlands. Something that’s especially important as Bay View sits close to the San Francisco Bay.
  • The water retention ponds not only collect water for reuse, but also provide nature restoration, sea level rise protection, and access to the beauty of natural wetlands. New willow groves along the stormwater ponds provide resources for wildlife.
  • The integrated geothermal pile system will help heat and cool the campus. The massive geoexchange field is integrated into the structural system, reducing the amount of water typically used for cooling by 90% — that’s equal to five million gallons of water annually.

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Seniors search what they see, using a new Lens

“Often, when I go for a walk, I stumble upon an unknown flower or a tree. Now I can just take a picture to discover what kind of plant I am standing before,” Verner Madsen, one of the participants, remarked. “I don’t need to bring my encyclopedia. It is really smart and helpful.”Seniors in a…

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“Often, when I go for a walk, I stumble upon an unknown flower or a tree. Now I can just take a picture to discover what kind of plant I am standing before,” Verner Madsen, one of the participants, remarked. “I don’t need to bring my encyclopedia. It is really smart and helpful.”

Seniors in a country like Denmark are generally very tech savvy, but with digitization constantly advancing — accelerating even faster during two years of COVID-19 — some seniors risk being left behind, creating gaps between generations. During worldwide lockdowns, technological tools have helped seniors stay connected with their family and friends, and smartphone features have helped improve everyday life. One key element of that is delivering accurate and useful information when needed. And for that, typed words on a smartphone keyboard can often be substituted with a visual search, using a single tap on the screen.

Being able to “search what you see” in this way was an eye-opener to many. As the day ended, another avid participant, Henrik Rasmussen, declared he was heading straight home to continue his practice.

“I thought I was up to speed on digital developments, but after today I realize that I still have a lot to learn and discover,” he said.

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