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Okaymedia launches new pilot program “The Byline Project” in collaboration with Google and the Google News Initiative

by | Jun 9, 2021

Okaymedia and its news and culture site, Okayplayer, announced the launch of an exciting new pilot program called “The Byline Project,” in collaboration with Google and the Google News Initiative. Designed to empower local journalists, investigative journalism, and underserved communities, The Byline Project allows individual journalists and under-resourced newsrooms to easily manage and collaborate with freelance contributors — and in turn tell more local stories. Developed as open-sourced technology by Okayplayer, the software also includes a simple and accessible way for readers to directly support local journalists and newsrooms through a digital / crypto “tipping” functionality. Okayplayer is implementing “The Byline Project” technology on an eponymous section of the website and has unveiled a short video introducing the project:

“Over the course of 15 years, we have seen the number of news deserts across the United States increase,” said Okaymedia CEO Isha Sesay. “This serves as a very real threat to our understanding of the world around us and our ability to hold officials and community members accountable. Local news sources, which often serve as the sole source of credible information for a community, have been drastically gutted due to lack of funds and resources. This new pilot program seeks to mitigate this issue by providing an alternative way for an outlet to collaborate.”

“We’ve heard loud and clear from journalists across North America that there is a huge need for bootstrapped and under-funded publishers and journalists to be more empowered to produce quality local journalism that represents the whole of their communities. This is what makes the Byline Project really stand out,” said LaToya Drake, Head of Media Representation at Google. “Local news has the power to impact people in profound ways. It’s important that underrepresented voices are reflected in those stories and it’s heartening that efforts like the GNI Innovation Challenge can play a role in bringing those efforts to life.”

The project debuts with content pieces from journalists Lawrence Burney and Siraad Dirshe, who provide thoughtful, investigative pieces into under-served topics including:

The goal of this program is to help local communities direct their limited resources at journalism designed to shine light on opaque issues and bring accountability to local institutions.

“Okaymedia takes its commitment to uplifting the community and bringing attention to underserved movements and stories seriously,” said Okayplayer Editor-in-Chief and Vice President of Content, Rachel Hislop. “The chasm of journalism in many of our cities across the country makes it increasingly hard for citizens to get accurate information about what is going around and within their own neighborhoods and cities. We felt it imperative we make an attempt at addressing this problem. We look forward to using this software to invite new voices and stories onto our pages and hope other newsrooms use the tools to do the same.”

Local news outlets across the United States can gain access to this technology by visiting: HERE

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