Google will be providing funding for Wick Communications’ innovative initiative to create a journalist-curated, hyperlocal social media platform to develop critical community connections, announced the tech giant on Friday, according to reports.
The news was part of Google’s larger announcement of recipients of its inaugural North America Google News Initiative Challenge funding to support projects that drive digital innovation and develop new business models.
Currently, the initiative is financing 34 projects, selected from a highly competitive process of 269 applications across North America.
Wick’s Neighborhood Assisted Bureau Reporting (NABUR) project will establish a responsible, journalist-curated neighborhood social media platform for Wick-served communities based out of Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and Tucson.
Additionally, journalists will be expected to cultivate healthy discourse in the Midwest communities of Fergus Falls, Breckenridge (Minn.), Wahpeton (N.D.), and Southern Arizona communities of Sierra Vista, Bisbee, and Benson, while bringing community members together in real life for events and discussions.
“We’re honored to be recipients of the inaugural GNI Challenge, assisting our advancement of community information and connections through a locally monitored, socially responsible neighborhood platform,” said Francis Wick, president and CEO of Wick Communications.
“The popularity of social media platforms such as Facebook and Nextdoor demonstrates there is an interest in a conversation-first approach to local news and information,” said Sean Fitzpatrick, Wick Digital Media Director. “In our pilot usability testing, though, potential subscribers have indicated a willingness to provide financial support for local content that provides context and answers the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of these conversations.”
The Google News Initiative is providing funding for 70% of the project, which will include the hiring of two journalist product managers in each region to assist in the development and cultivation of the NABUR platform and conversations.