“Watershed moment” as Bedford Independent joins other independent publishers on Google News Showcase

The Bedford Independent google news showcase page on a mobile and laptop

The Bedford Independent has been accepted, alongside 45 other independent titles across the UK, as a provider of high-quality journalism on Google News Showcase.

The deal means we can better connect with our readers and strengthen our news coverage. It also brings much-needed financial support to the local news sector.

It’s a one-of-a-kind deal for independent publishers in the UK.

The deal has been made possible thanks to the hard work of the Independent Community News Network (ICNN) which has created a partnership between Google and the independent community news sector through their public interest news gateway Ping News.

Deputy Director of ICNN, Matt Abbott said: “This is game-changing for independent journalism in the UK and we are delighted to expand our relationship with Google to bring this partnership together.

“Google News Showcase is an extremely important initiative that highlights the value of local news.

“By partnering with Ping News, Google is not only helping the independent sector become more sustainable but is acknowledging the enormous contribution hyperlocal journalism makes to public interest news in the UK.”

Ping!, developed and built in partnership with Bristol-based web app development company Omni Digital, is due to launch in May 2023 and will also allow for collaboration among independent publishers for joined-up journalism research and content creation.

“Google’s support of the Ping! platform means regional and national publishers will soon be able to access rich multimedia content from every region of the UK on demand, from hundreds of professional independent community journalists,” added Matt.

Access to trusted news is essential for a robust democracy, and nowhere is journalism more trusted and more valued than at the local and hyperlocal level.

Read: The Bedford Independent’s editorial mission

Funding balance

Until now, the majority of organisations on the Showcase project have been traditional news publishers, who have had an unfair slice of the funding available for the local news sector.

With the upcoming launch of Ping News, this partnership with Google helps redress that balance so independent publishers have access to new ways to reach their audiences, grow their readership and generate additional income.

“In uncertain times, having easy access to reliable information through trusted sources on the internet is more important than ever,” said Vice President of Google and Managing Director of Google UK & Ireland, Debbie Weinstein.

“That’s why for more than two decades we’ve focused on connecting people with facts and journalism they can trust.

“Today, we’re excited to extend Showcase licensing deals to 45 smaller independent news titles thanks to a partnership with Ping News, a new public interest news gateway set up by the team at ICNN,” added Debbie.

Through Google News Showcase, Google pays participating publishers to curate quality journalism for an improved online news experience that benefits readers and publishers.

This approach is different from other Google news products because it focuses on the editorial choices that publishers make about which stories to show readers and how to present them in Google’s news products, currently Google News and Discover.

“Watershed moment”

Michael Casey, publisher of Your Thurrock and Your Harlow called the partnership a “watershed moment for independent publishers,” adding that it lends “even more credibility to what we do”.

Paul Hutchinson co-managing editor of the Bedford Independent added: “As independent publications, being a part of Google News Showcase shows that our hard work as professional news gatherers is being taken seriously.

“The Bedford Independent has represented independent publishing colleagues on the standards code committee for press regulator IMPRESS, the ICNN board of advisors, the ICNN advertising network, the Public Interest News Foundation (PINF) leadership programme, a DCMS enquiry into local journalism, and now as one of the first independent titles on Google News Showcase.

“We are incredibly grateful to ICNN and Ping News for helping establish a position for the Bedford Independent and other independent titles so that we can continue to make sure our readers have access to the high-quality journalism that is vital for a community to thrive.”

Keep Local news Alive in Bedfordshire