Local news outlet ZimLive.com is going to be a beneficiary of Google’s COVID-19 journalist relief fund. Google launched this fund to support small and medium-sized news organizations that produce local and original news.
“Local news is a vital resource for keeping people and communities connected in the best of times. Today, it plays an even greater function in reporting on local lockdowns or shelter at home orders, school and park closures, and data about how COVID-19 is affecting daily life”Richard Gingras VP News, (back in April when the fund was announced)
The fund operates globally and ZimLive aren’t the only local beneficiary. Kwekwe Net and The Mirror are also going to receive a boost from the fund.
I don’t know of any publication by the name “The Mirror” in Zimbabwe but the closest one I found was The Masvingo Mirror. Not sure if they are the publication in question, I’ll check with them and update this article when there is clarification.
“In the last few months, we have provided $39.5 million in funding to more than 5600 publishers in 115 countries through the Journalism Emergency Relief Fund. The money is being applied in diverse and creative ways, from ensuring basic reporting needs and giving emergency stipends to allow reporters to cover the crisis, to driving audience engagement and generating subscriptions.”Google
Google didn’t however say how much each publication will be getting but the sums range from the low thousands for the hyper-small local newsrooms and to the low tens of thousands for larger newsrooms.
Back in February we reported that ZimLive had launched a donation initiative on their site. This was in an effort to increase financial resources so that they could expand upon their enterprise. Traditionally publications, be they online or physical, generate revenue through advertisements.
Generating revenue through just ad revenue in Zimbabwe, especially for online publications, isn’t a viable approach. Firstly because businesses in Zimbabwe are less likely to veer in the direction of online advertisements, and secondly, most ads one will see online in Zimbabwe are, in large part, foreign. The products and services offered by international ads aren’t relevant and users will be less likely to interact with them.
Another approach that has been tried is paid subscriptions. Daily News tried this but it didn’t have the desired effect. Paid content is tricky, a number of considerations have to be made and a rapport has to be developed with the audience before it can be viable.
In any event…
Newsrooms have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. We all need as many outlets as possible covering a range of topics and offering opinions. Timely and accurate information in times like these is vital and it goes beyond the coronavirus pandemic. The number of recipients of Google’s fund shows the sheer scope of newsrooms that may have had downsized or vanish entirely without some intervention.
The full list of beneficiaries can be found here