ICFJ: Startups Lab in the Middle East and North Africa

Deadline: 7-Jan-23

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) is partnering with Google News Initiative (GNI) to implement a Startups Lab to strengthen a culture of independent news media in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Startups Lab is open to early-stage digital news outlets who focus on public interest journalism, fill an information gap, reach underserved communities, serve a single subject community or are exploring new ways to deliver or monetize information.

Participants in the Lab will:
Receive customized coaching related to their business goals
Implement specific steps to advance their goals
Learn from peers who face similar business problems.
Geographic Eligibility
Are serving audiences in the MENA region
Are based in or serving one of the following countries:
Palestine, State of
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates

Eligibility Criteria
Meet all eligibility criteria and are fluent in Arabic
Are for-profit or non-profit digital news organizations
Are registered or incorporated in one of the eligible geographies
Are seeking to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to operate and grow a digital news business
Are exploring a major strategic opportunity that can help them become more sustainable (journalistic impact, operational resilience and financial health)
Are not government-owned entities
The GNI Startups Lab MENA is run in partnership with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).”

Newsroom Eligibility
Minimum of two full-time employee (FTE) journalists, up to a maximum of 20 FTE journalists.

Newsrooms focused on one or more of the following: Public interest journalism Filling an information gap Serving a geographic-bound or single subject community Serving an underserved community Exploring new ways to deliver and/or monetize informationHave been producing original content for at least six months, but for no more than four years Have a news product (website, newsletter, etc), with demonstrated traction via site visits, sign-ups, and/or earned revenueYou must be independently owned and operated (e.g. no government ownership in your organization)You must not employ government officials or individuals that are also employed by government entitiesPreferred: Entrepreneurs serving communities that don’t often see themselves or their stories reflected in their local news.

Program Eligibility
Can read and write fluently in Arabic
Can assign a dedicated project manager responsible for ensuring your team attends all program and coaching sessions, and completes all assignments.
Can assign 2-5 team members to be involved at different points of the Lab
Commitment of 5-10 hours per team per week.

Willingness to share business insights and collaborate with fellow news entrepreneurs
Not a Google employee or contractor.

Selection Process
Participants will be selected by Google staff in partnership with ICFJ.
They will review all applications and determine a cohort that can collaboratively work together and learn from each other to reach the Lab’s goals.
Google and/or ICFJ may request additional information via email regarding your application.

Lab finalists will be invited to a 20-minute interview to share more about their news organization. Interview attendees should include anyone who would participate in the Lab, and an executive sponsor to confirm your organization’s interest and commitment.

All applicants will be notified of selection decisions via email. Selected publishers will need to sign a participation agreement with Google.


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