Dubai : The newly-launched Google News Initiative together with Google News Lab will offer free training to 4,000 journalists in the Middle East and North Africa region to help journalists advance their editorial, research, writing, fact-checking and editing skills, over the next 12 months, a senior Google official told delegates on Wednesday at the Arab Media Forum.
"We have trained more than 94,000 journalists all over the world, except the MENA region where we see a gap," Matt Cooke, Head of Google News Initiative, said.
"I am pleased to inform you that we have partnered with IJNET to train 4,000 journalists across the region in the next 12 months."
"We will start the training process from Dubai next month and then progressively include media professionals from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia.
Google Media Lab
"The journalists will get free training and they can start registering online through Google Media Lab to benefit from the programme,” added Cooke.
Google News Initiative (GNI) was launched two weeks ago by the global search engine to both provide accurate information and help the media obtain accurate information through the global search engine, which is used by the media fraternity for research and information sharing.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, has said that Google cares deeply about journalism.
Google’s new initiatives are part of the organisation’s firm belief in the free flow of information online.
Building a more informed world will require news organisations and professionals to collaborate with each other.
Trust in media plunges by 43%
Citing a Reuters survey, Cooke said, trust in media fell 43 per cent last year, the lowest it has fallen, due to the extent of fake news.
"Media is distrusted in 82 per cent of the world’s countries, according to the survey," he said.
"Three years ago, we launched the Trust Project to help build credible information from journalists and help build public trust in news,” said Cooke.
"During the elections in the UK, France and Germany, we trained more than 500 journalists who collaborated with the leading newsroom and we debunked 269 reports from the media due to inaccurate facts,” he added.
Explaining various steps taken by Google to promote credible news content, Cooke said: "For us, it’s the story first and technology second.
"Technology should be used by the media to improve the quality of content, research and feedback as well as distribution.
"The fundamentals of journalism have not changed, although the environment has changed drastically," Cooke, a former journalist with BBC, said.
Google’s Google Posting and The Voice allows journalists and media organisations to post news, broadcast credible content online and rapidly reach large audiences.