Google News Initiative (GNI) announced that Michigan Radio (WUOM-FM/WFUM-FM/WVGR-FM)(Ann Arbor) has been named a 2019 recipient of their first NorthAmerica Innovation Challenge, an international program that funds projects bringing new ideas into the news industry.

The Google News Initiative is a global effort to work with the news industry to help journalism thrive in a digital age. Through rounds of regional funding, the GNI Innovation Challenges empowers news innovators from around the world to demonstrate new thinking in online journalism and the development of new publishing business models.

The Michigan Radio initiative is the Public Meeting Tracker. This project is designed to enable more comprehensive coverage of local government meetings while also increasing audience engagement for local news in underserved small towns and rural areas across Michigan. It will provide a new data-driven approach in covering local government and help make the content of public meetings more accessible. It will also create a new tool for a variety of news organizations to cover those meetings.

Google’s North America Innovation Challenge was launched in May of this year, and was focused specifically on local news. They received 269 applications from 44 states and provinces. After a rigorous review, Google selected 34 projects in 17 states and provinces to receive funding amounting to a total of $5.8 million.

Other recipients of the Google News Initiative announced today include: WBUR in Boston, which will embark on a project aimed at enabling public radio listeners to interact and transact with live local news content, using their voice, while driving their car; The Salt Lake Tribune, which aims to become the first U.S. legacy newspaper to transition to a community asset and operate as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; Detour Media which hopes to create a sustainable funding model for community-focused journalism outlets to amplify the needs and stories of historically underserved populations.

Michigan Radio will begin implementation of the Public Meeting Tracker project in early 2020.

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