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One KUAM: Building bridges for live news in the Pacific


Editor’s note from Ludovic Blecher, Head of Google News Initiative Innovation: The GNI Innovation Challengeprogram is designed to stimulate forward-thinking ideas for the news industry. The story below by Marie Calvo Monge, CEO, KUAM/Pacific Telestations LLC, is part of an innovator seriessharing inspiring stories and lessons from funded projects.

With a population of 50,000 spread across an archipelago of tiny islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) in the Pacific has often been too remote for other Guam based broadcast news crews to carry live coverage.

Previously, my organization’s coverage of significant events in the CNMI was handled in one of two ways: we could wait for a tape-delayed file from the island chain’s only local news operation, which was a lengthy process that taxed our workflow and internet bandwidth capabilities. Or we could send a two-person crew to gather the story, which they would edit and publish upon return to Guam, which was costly with airfare, transportation and lodging costing approximately $2,000 per trip.

But that has all changed thanks to the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge funding the One KUAM project, which has enhanced and expanded the quality content our media group produces for and about our Pacific region.

Now, our regional correspondent operates efficiently as a “one-person band” and can send live HD quality video via their mobile device. We’re able to report live from multiple locations on broadcast and streaming, and we’ve even been able to feature live reports in HD from Tinian and Rota, the smaller islands of the archipelago, with a combined population of 5,000. We’re the first broadcast news station on Guam to do this.

These improvements have helped us achieve our goal of expanding our regional coverage and sharing the stories of Indigenous Pacific Islanders with more people. Our expanded coverage has brought more information to the homes of our viewers in the CNMI and also helped show how current issues – from climate change and COVID-19, to military training and cultural revitalization – impact the region as a whole.

The increase in news coverage from the CNMI has also opened up a new advertiser revenue stream, with local businesses and agencies in the region now advertising on our stations to appeal to our expanded audience. Prior to rolling out the One KUAM project, we had no advertisers from that market. Since March 2022, we’ve drawn in nearly $15,000 in advertising revenue from CNMI advertisers.

KUAM gained a noteworthy increase in viewers from our expansion to regional interactive coverage once we began reporting on events in the CNMI last fall. That market has been underserved in news coverage since the start of the pandemic, and our videos published to YouTube have generated an average of 10 times more views than usual from the CNMI. Our Facebook and Instagram posts have been viewed an average of seven times more than our normal traffic benchmarks, and videos on those platforms have been viewed and shared three times more than comparable coverage in our domestic market. Our overall growth of frequent users has increased 5.7%, with the overwhelming majority of those being from the CNMI.

We’ve made the leap from analog to fully digital operations and streamlined the workflow of our journalists. They now can gather and produce news with a more flexible multimedia skill set, integrating functions such as creating their own graphics, cross posting social and web content, and launching live reports for broadcast and live stream in HD directly from their mobile devices. Our new way of connecting to multiple internet connections has transformed the way we incorporate live reports into our productions while the teams can still use their existing cameras and mobile devices.

Our mission now not only includes hyperlocal journalism on Guam and national headlines from the mainland, but also regional stories from across the Western Pacific.

KUAM is Guam’s first commercial broadcast and news media group and has been broadcasting on television and radio for more than 65 years. We’ve also ushered in many innovations in our history. We were the first media group locally to garner national network affiliations (NBC and CBS) and the first to broadcast international sporting and news events locally via satellite. We were also the first to produce local broadcast news on Guam.

The GNI Innovation Challenge support we received has helped us continue that legacy of firsts. We’ve evolved our operation from local and broadcast-centric to the first and only one in the region that’s accessible to a global audience on multiple platforms and devices in a quality HD format.


Helping local journalism thrive online in the UK

Local news is at the heart of all communities – even in big cities. It’s often said London is a ‘city of villages’ and as someone who has grown up, studied and worked in different parts of the capital, I’ve always learnt a lot about my various neighbourhoods through the lens of the local newspaper. From the ‘Surrey Comet’ in Kingston, to the ‘Ham & High’ in Haringey, local journalism shines a light on issues as diverse as local government, culture and important new developments.

Today, thanks to the internet, readers can choose from an incredible array of news sources online. Anyone with a passion can set up a specialist blog and find a following. This is great news for creators and readers like me with a niche interest in anything from arts to architecture. But the online environment and changing audience habits have disrupted traditional business models. Today, local papers and news sites have to work harder than ever to capture – and monetise – audiences' attention with news they’ll enjoy.

One way we support local publishers to meet this challenge is by driving online audiences to their journalism via Google News and Search. In 2021, we sent more than 2.4 billion organic clicks to local news publications in the UK from global users on Google Search and News. A 2019 study by Deloitte in Europe valued each visit between €0.04-0.06 —which equates to more than £84 million in value going to British local news publications from Google traffic alone.

We’ve been working to give local news greater prominence on Google Search and News in recent years, and our latest changes to Google News will help readers discover local content even more easily.

Local publishers often tell us they want to strengthen their digital skills and build on their expertise to further cut through to online audiences. That’s why with the Google News Initiative we are focused on helping local journalism to thrive. We partner with local publishers on new products like Google News Showcase, or the digital portal we developed with the NMA to protect revenue from public notices. On partnerships that support experimentation and innovation in new sustainable business models, and on training to upskill journalists with digital tools and techniques. Our training includes digital verification to tackle misinformation, data journalism and tools that strengthen investigative journalism.

Many local publishers across the UK are already innovating with new digital strategies to pull in new readers and revenues. Today we’re announcing three new programmes that build on this long standing work, and there is more to come.

Supporting local publishers with subscriptions

To be successful in the long term, publishers must have a sustainable digital revenue model. As part of our Digital Growth Programme, we partnered with the NMA and FT Strategies to help 12 local publishers develop the expertise they need to build a blueprint for the future. Local partners like Barnsley Chronicle, Rotherham Advertiser, and Iliffe Media took part, and it’s been great to hear the response:

Jeremy Spooner at the Maidenhead Advertiser said: “The extremely high level of expertise delivered by the FT Strategies team, coupled with their access to insights on how to grow digital subscription revenue would not have been accessible by Baylis Media Ltd, had it not been funded by Google News Initiative. The programme has given the team the confidence to accelerate its Digital Subscription Strategy with a clear methodology now in place and a challenge goal set. Without doubt the programme has provided a significant boost to the Digital Revenue Strategy.”

Today, we’re announcing that we’re expanding the programme for another 12 months in response to feedback from the publishers involved.

A new nationwide training partnership with the National Union of Journalists

As a former journalist, I can begin to understand the pressure to stay across a range of new tools. The team I lead has trained 16,500 UK journalists and journalism students since 2015, with a focus on providing workshops outside of London.

Our new partnership with the National Union of Journalists will build on these efforts, and focus on helping local journalists across the UK and Ireland develop both their journalism and leadership capabilities. They’ll deliver 13 in-person workshops nationwide, and 30 virtual digital skills workshops to ensure the training is fully accessible to all.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said: “This partnership is an opportunity to improve the digital skills of our members, in particular by using technology to verify the authenticity and accuracy of images, videos and reports on social media and elsewhere online – an essential skill for a modern and ethical journalist. The training will also help mid-career members to progress towards leadership roles, with a particular emphasis on groups under-represented within the industry’s management – women, black and minority ethic, disabled and working class journalists.”

Partnering with PA Media on digital skills

Ensuring training programmes reach groups that are underrepresented in journalism is important if UK newsrooms are to better reflect the communities they serve. That's why we’re proud to sponsor the NCTJ’s Journalism Diversity Fund and to have helped support 200 aspiring journalists from diverse backgrounds through their training and into local newsrooms such as WalesOnline, Barnsley Chronicle and Newcastle World.

Today we’re launching a new partnership with PA Media to offer more targeted support for underrepresented groups across two key areas: digital skills and misinformation. First, we’re sponsoring 25 places on PA Media's four-week summer school for students from underrepresented backgrounds, with a particular focus on reaching students in Westminster and Camden – as well as a series of training festivals for 500 journalists. Secondly, we’re supporting PA Media to develop a new training curriculum to help journalists tackle misinformation as part of their daily news gathering processes.

Alongside these partnerships, we provide direct funding to support innovation in local news via the GNI innovation Challenge for Europe, our YouTube Creator Programme for Independent Journalists and our newly announced Global News Equity Fund.

We’re excited to see the impact these news projects have and to keep working with our local partners to help ensure a vibrant future for local British journalism.


Introducing Earth Engine for governments and businesses

We’re at a unique inflection point in our relationship with the planet. We face existential climate threats — a growing crisis already manifesting in extreme weather events, coupled with the loss of nature resulting from human activities such as deforestation. But at the same time, the world is mobilizing around climate action. Citizens are demanding progress, and governments and companies are making unprecedented commitments to transform how we live on this planet — from policy decisions to business practices. Over the years, one of the top climate challenges I’ve heard from businesses, governments and organizations is that they’re drowning in data but thirsty for insights.

So starting today, we’re making Google Earth Engine available to businesses and governments worldwide as an enterprise-grade service through Google Cloud. With access to reliable, up-to-date insights on how our planet is changing, organizations will be better equipped to move their sustainability efforts forward.

Google Earth Engine, which originally launched to scientists and NGOs in 2010, is a leading technology for planetary-scale environmental monitoring. Google Earth Engine combines data from hundreds of satellites and earth observation datasets with powerful cloud computing to show timely, accurate, high-resolution insights about the state of the world’s habitats and ecosystems — and how they’re changing over time. With one of the largest publicly available data catalogs and a global data archive that goes back 50 years and updates every 15 minutes, it’s possible to detect trends and understand correlations between human activities and environmental impact. This technology is already beginning to bring greater transparency and traceability to commodity supply chains, supporting climate resilience and allowing for more sustainable management of natural resources such as forests and water.

Earth Engine will be available at no charge to government researchers, least-developed countries, tribal nations and news organizations. And it will remain available at no cost for nonprofit organizations, research scientists, and other impact users for their non-commercial and research projects.

Earth Engine will also be available to startups that are a part of the Google for Startups Cloud Program. Through this initiative we provide funded startups with access to dedicated mentors, industry experts, product and technical support, and Cloud cost coverage (up to $100,000) for each of the first two years and more.

How organizations are using Earth Engine

Since we announced the preview of Earth Engine in Google Cloud last October, we’ve been working with dozens of companies and organizations across industries — from consumer packaged goods and insurance companies to agriculture technology and the public sector — to use Earth Engine’s satellite imagery and geospatial data in incredible ways.

Dynamic World, a global machine learning derived land classification over time available in Earth Engine's public data catalog, was developed in partnership with World Resources Institute (WRI).

For example, Regrow, a company that helps large consumer packaged goods corporations decarbonize their agricultural practices, started using Earth Engine to report and verify regenerative and sustainable techniques. Through Earth Engine’s analysis of historical and satellite imagery, Regrow can generate granular field data at the state or country levels across millions of acres of farmland around the world.

As climate change causes shifts in biodiversity, Earth Engine is helping communities adapt to the effects of these changes, such as new mosquito outbreaks. SC Johnson partnered with Google Cloud to use Earth Engine to develop a publicly accessible, predictive model of when and where mosquito populations are emerging nationwide. The forecast accounts for billions of individual weather data points and over 60 years of mosquito knowledge in forecasting models.

For organizations that may not have resources dedicated to working with Earth Engine, we’ve continued to grow our partner network to support them. For example, our partner NGIS worked with Rainforest Trust to get action-oriented and tailored insights that can help them conserve 39 million acres of tropical forests around the world.

It’s not too late to protect and restore a livable planet for ourselves and generations to come. Climate change experts have declared the next ten years the ‘Decade of Action’, a critical time to act in order to curb the effects of climate change. Making a global difference will require a transformational change from everyone, including businesses and governments. With Google Earth Engine, we hope to help organizations contribute to this change.


Upgrading from Google Hangouts to Google Chat

In October 2020, we announced Google Chat would be available for everyone. Since then, people could continue using Hangouts or upgrade to Google Chat — available as its own app or within Gmail — to take advantage of its modern features and integration with other Workspace products. We’ve continued to invest in Chat to help people better collaborate and express themselves, and now we’re taking steps to help remaining Hangouts users move to Chat.

A better way to collaborate

Moving to Google Chat opens up new and better ways to connect and collaborate. For example, users can edit Docs, Slides or Sheets with side-by-side editing, making it easier to collaborate while continuing the conversation.

Google Chat also includes Spaces, a dedicated place for topic-based collaboration. Groups and teams can share ideas, work on documents, and manage files and tasks, all from a single location. And, the new integrated view in Gmail makes it easier to use Chat alongside your Gmail inbox, Spaces, and Meet.

Chat and Spaces are easily accessible within Gmail, making it easy to connect and collaborate.

Express yourself

Switching to Chat also makes expressing yourself more fun, whether you’re using emojis with skin-tone selections, rich text editing to give your chats emphasis, @mentions to notify someone in the group or sending a GIF. Now everyone can find just the right way to chime in.

In Chat, people can express themselves easily with features like @mentions, emoji reactions and an integrated GIF picker.

Moving from Hangouts to Chat

Starting today, mobile users will see a screen asking them to upgrade from Hangouts to Chat in Gmail or the Chat app.

First, starting today, people using Hangouts on mobile will see an in-app screen asking them to move to Chat in Gmail or the Chat app. Similarly, people who use the Hangouts Chrome extension will be asked to move to Chat on the web or install the Chat web app. In July, people who use Hangouts in Gmail on the web will be upgraded to Chat in Gmail.

While we encourage everyone to make the switch to Chat, Hangouts on the web will continue to be available until later this year. Users will see an in-product notice at least a month before Hangouts on the web starts redirecting to Chat on the web.

For most people, conversations are automatically migrated from Hangouts to Chat, so it’s easy to pick up where you left off. However, we encourage users who wish to keep a copy of their Hangouts data to use Google Takeout to download their data before Hangouts is no longer available in November 2022 by following these instructions. You can visit the Help Center for more information on the differences between Chat and Hangouts, the migration timelines, and why we recommend downloading your Hangouts data.

The future of Chat

Google Chat offers a modern and integrated experience in Google Workspace. We have big ambitions for the future of Chat, and over the coming months you'll see even more features like direct calling, in-line threading in Spaces and the ability to share and view multiple images. As we take this final step to bring remaining Hangouts users to Chat, we hope users will appreciate our continued investment in making Chat a powerful place to create and collaborate.


Discounts and prizes for small business heroes

Every business has a story: how they started, how they persevered, how they’ve adapted over time. Small businesses are where we have our birthday dinners, find the perfect unique gift for the friend who has everything, and take our favorite shirt with a giant stain to be saved (again). No matter where you live, small businesses are central to our lives and they show up for us in countless ways.

So we’re marking this International Small Business Week with a few new ways to support small businesses, including exclusive product discounts, our first Heroes of Small Business sweepstakes and business scholarships through our partnership with StartOut.

Exclusive product discounts for small businesses

Making it even easier for businesses and people to connect is at the heart of what we do. We’re offering exclusive discounts on digital tools that help small businesses operate more efficiently, reach more people and stay in touch with existing customers and employees:

  • Three months free of Google Workspace
  • 40% off of a domain from Google Domains
  • $130 off a Chromebook
  • 60 days of Shopify Free and a free Shopify-built store

These offers are only available in the U.S. and Canada until July 1. You can learn more and redeem these offers at g.co/smallbiz/week.

Nominate a small business hero

We’re also introducing our first Heroes of Small Business sweepstakes. You have until July 5 to nominate your favorite U.S.-based small business for a chance to win $10,000 for the business — and you’ll receive $500 to spend with them (terms apply). Get started nominating and watch the stories of some small business heroes from across the country at g.co/smallbiz/heroes.

Business scholarships for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs

Google is helping LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs succeed with funds to StartOut, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit organization that helps facilitate mentorship, access to capital and tools to create an equitable playing field. Through StartOut's Acceleration Initiative, Google will fund more than 60 scholarships to help Black, Latinx and female identifying LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs to grow and scale their businesses. You can apply on the StartOut website.

Whether you’re a small business owner or just a small business fan, we hope you find a way to celebrate the incredible impact small businesses make on our communities with us this week.


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