Web giant Google has joined up with Matter Ventures and the News Media Alliance to create a series of bootcamps for local news staff. There will be four bootcamps over the length of the program, all tuition-free. Each one will accommodate twenty teams of six, all from different local news stations around the country, and will last three days. Google's own Google News Lab will be helping with the event by hosting one bootcamp at each of its four campus locations in Georgia, Missouri, California and New York. The bootcamps will be "Design-Thinking," according to Google's press release. Applications are currently open to teams of six, and there is no listed date for when applications will close or when the bootcamps will begin.
The bootcamps aren't focused on conventional news skills like research, reporting, and interviewing, but rather on principles of design and presentation. Newscasters who get into the bootcamps will learn how to create media and experiences that cater to the modern population. In Google's blog post, the company cites mobile-focused content that ties into e-commerce, a marketplace, and social media engagement with viewers as just a few examples, with the overarching theme being news networks reaching beyond just delivering the news to their viewers, and truly becoming a part of the communities that they reach. Naturally, modern design skills and basic aesthetic teachings are woven into the curriculum.
This intiative ties into Google's ongoing battle against fake news, and the company implicitly says as much in its blog post, calling local news "the bedrock of the news industry". In addition to fighting against fake news directly by helping to decrease its influence and make it harder for it to find an audience, Google has been focused on pushing real news and helping news sources to find readers. Most of the ways that Google has pursued this goal thus far have been indirect, providing newscasters with tools, guidelines, and a search boost, among other perks. This initiative will seemingly be the first public initiative by Google that's aimed at working directly with the people who research, write, edit, report, and publish news.