2023 was a year like no other. Publishers across Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) found new ways to deploy the latest technology for growth while journalists continued to help their readers make sense of what was happening around them, often using technology to sort fact from fiction.
Today we’re sharing what we heard from publishers and journalists across CEE this year and provide a sneak peek of what’s to come in 2024.
1. Publishers have a renewed focus on training and development
We’ve been engaging in partnerships across the region to ensure that publishers have the skills needed to deploy new technology to accelerate growth. Together with Poland’s Press Publishers Chamber as co-organisers, we delivered a two-day long Google News Initiative (GNI) business training for 48 small and medium publishers on the topics of audience development and reader revenue. We are aiming to continue the programme in early 2024.
And to help foster the spirit of innovation, the Google News Initiative launched the Startups Lab for Eastern Europe with 14 news startups participating in an intensive six-month programme focused on growing subscribers and building sustainable business models.
We also delivered a bespoke AI design sprint training for publishers in London, with six participants from CEE. We will bring the model to Central and Eastern Europe in 2024, in collaboration with Mixer, our longstanding training partner.
2. Journalists are seeking new ways to fact check and verify news
The importance of trust in journalism cannot be underestimated, not just because of dynamics in the world — from wars, to pandemics, to 2.5 billion people going to the polls in 2024 — but because the challenge of misinformation is evolving.
Pinpoint, a research tool we built for journalists that’s powered by the best of Google’s Search and AI technologies, was used this year by our Baltic partners to tackle some of their most difficult stories. For example, Lithuanian publishers 15min and Delfi Lithuania used Pinpoint to assist in an investigation.
In 2023, we partnered with media literacy leaders to provide more than 3,800 CEE journalists with fact checking or advanced technical training to spot misinformation before it spreads. This included an election-related misinformation course for 500 local journalists, organized by our partner Demagog Poland ahead of the pivotal Polish election in October.
Next year, we will provide further support to journalists and publishers covering crucial elections in the region, as well as helping fight organized misinformation campaigns in Ukraine and beyond. In Ukraine, we’ll partner with StopFake and VoxUkraine, the country’s two foremost fact-checking organizations, to deliver timely training and resources.
3. Local gatherings can help build bridges and share insights
In the complex CEE media landscape, we’ve found it helpful to find opportunities to bring news leaders together to discuss shared challenges and opportunities. This year, we hosted six bespoke publisher days and gatherings in Bucharest, Budapest, Bratislava, Prague, Warsaw and Tallinn.
We also convened media literacy leaders across CEE at the Fighting Misinformation Online event in Bratislava, where participants discussed new strategies for fighting disinformation campaigns. We also announced a new long-term partnership with Transitions to increase the resilience of the older population in Czechia and Slovakia to disinformation.