Brighton and Hove News has joined forces with Google as the international tech company seeks to showcase independent community journalism.
The deal, signed by 45 independent news outlets across the country, has been described as “a watershed moment”.
The aims include improving the connections with audiences, strengthening the news offering and, with some financial support, boosting the sustainability of independent news publishers.
Jo Wadsworth and Frank le Duc, who started Brighton and Hove News in 2009, said: “Solid local journalism plays a vital part in our democracy, covering our key civic institutions and giving a voice to our community.
“And this agreement with Google will help us to keep our growing local readership up to date with what’s happening across the area.
“We are grateful to the Independent Community News Network (ICNN) for a huge amount of hard work behind the scenes to help news publishers like Brighton and Hove News to better serve our community.”
The ICNN has been working on the deal for months through its “public interest news gateway” Ping News.
The ICNN said: “In a watershed moment for the industry, 45 independent titles have signed up to the Google News Showcase to better connect with audiences and strengthen their offering.
“The financial support provided by Google helps build much-needed sustainability and cements the sector within the wider journalism ecosystem.
“The deal is one-of-a-kind for independent publishers in the UK. So far, the majority of organisations that have partnered with Google on the Showcase project have been traditional news publishers.
“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.
“This is why uplifting hyperlocal independent journalism has been ICNN’s mission since it launched in 2018.
“With the upcoming launch of our public interest news gateway, Ping News, ICNN has sought to create new revenue streams for the independent sector. This partnership with Google does just that.
“Publishers now have access to new ways to reach their audiences, grow their readership and generate additional income.”
ICNN deputy director 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.”
He added: “Additionally, Google’s support of the Ping! platform – the Public Interest News Gateway – 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.”
Ping! has been developed and built in partnership with the web app development company Omni Digital, from Bristol, and is due to start in May 2023.
Google vice-president Debbie Weinstein, who also serves as managing director of Google UK and Ireland, said: “In uncertain times, having easy access to reliable information through trusted sources on the internet is more important than ever.
“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.”