The grant will fund the resources, technology development work, and personnel for Townsquare to launch two new digital news brands. In Tuscaloosa, TuscaloosaThread.com launched a week ago. The second site in Portsmouth, NH will launch in October.
The grant money will be spent on editors, reporters, photographers, design and development of the brands and sites, and local marketing.
Townsquare CEO Bill Wilson tells Radio Ink the company has had a strong partnership with Google for a number of years and Townsquare participates as a premier partner in many of their beta programs.”Google has seen the benefit we bring to the 67 local communities we operate in through providing crucial information, and as a result Google invited us to apply for a grant as part of their “Google News Initiative 1:1 Partner Program.”
The Google News Initiative was developed as a continuation of Google’s focus on the News Industry, and is an effort to work with the industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age.”
Townsquare went through an extensive application process, and developed a concept to explore how AM/FM radio stations can create sustainable standalone local digital news sites in underserved regions in the US – “news deserts.”
Wilson says the company called it, “Leveraging the Marketing Power of Heritage Radio to Build Local Digital News Brands in Underserved Communities and outlined how Townsquare’s long-established credibility in 67 Middle America cities with fading or nonexistent truly local media competition gives us a unique opportunity to bring stand-alone digital news outlets to communities that desperately need it.”
And, according to Wilson, the Google News Initiative’s grant will allow Townsquare to develop guidance and best practices for a scalable model of radio-supported hyperlocal news. “By the end of the project, we will develop a multimedia training module and playbook that other radio companies can use to do the same. We look forward to partnering up with other radio companies to help them serve “news deserts” in the same way we do at Townsquare.”