Miami (April 27, 2023) - The Fundamental Lab initiative, aimed at benefiting Latin American news media facing financial obstacles and political persecution, was presented by Google and the Inter American Press Association during the IAPA's semi-annual virtual meeting, which concluded Thursday.
The program aims for the media, despite the difficulties, to increase their audiences and income through changes in newsrooms, technology and monetization strategy.
IAPA Executive Director, Ricardo Trotti, explained that "the new project with Google was born as a demand of the organization to help the most vulnerable media, economically and politically, in countries where the platform has little presence".
Trotti added that the project is independent of other demands that the IAPA has been making to digital platforms on intellectual property and fair and due remuneration for the news content they distribute.
Rodrigo Bonilla, Google's News Industry Relations Manager, said that "the IAPA made us understand the risk of news deserts appearing in countries with political and economic instability and the risk of hostility against the press".
"The goal is to work to build alliances that ensure that the Latin American population has access to quality news. To promote an innovative, diverse and sustainable news ecosystem through collaborative alliances with associations and ecosystem partners and to design and launch projects that have the greatest impact in the region," said Bonilla.
Opening the IAPA's mid-year meeting on Tuesday, IAPA President Michael Greenspon said, "With respect to digital platforms, we understand that beyond the differences we have as media outlets, they can be our allies. We believe they are indispensable for the sustainability of the media".
Greenspon, global director of Licensing and Print Innovation at The New York Times, added that "neither the big platforms, nor governments and society in general can ignore the precariousness of the media, because advertising, the traditional mainstay of journalism, has been absorbed by the platforms".
The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Carlos Jornet, recalled that during the 78th General Assembly of the organization held in October 2022 in Madrid "we pointed out (to Google) that there is a very strong connection between the reality of the press in the region and press freedom issues: on the one hand, the complex economic environment that affects the entire continent and leads to the desertification of information and, on the other hand, the critical political environment".
Jornet, journalistic director of Argentina's La Voz del Interior newspaper, explained that Google has been working with media in stronger markets such as Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. "But there are smaller and more vulnerable countries, where there are often difficulties in having a national press association to bring them together and, therefore, it was more complex to implement the plans."
The IAPA and Google will soon open a call for 120 media outlets, from which a maximum of 80 will be selected. Those selected will be able to participate in the first two stages of the project. Afterwards, another call will be opened for the pre-selected media to apply for financial support to fund a specific media transformation project.