Bridging the gap between startups and newsrooms… the 2017 edition

Applications are now closed and the competition will continue in March with online battles between the finalists bringing new solutions and innovation to newsrooms.

The Startups for News 2017 application period is over and we are glad to announce we received almost 100 applications from startups based in over 35 countries all across the world. The Startups for News programme (SFN) is a partnership between the Global Editors Network and This year we also have the support of Slush, Media Lab Bayern and VivaTech.

From the almost 100 applications, we highlighted 73 startups that met the application requirements to enter the competition. We received applications from the 5 continents with a surge from African countries and new Asian startups. We are also glad to receive projects from South America and the Middle East, making SFN a true global competition. Check the map below to find where our applicants come from and what they are doing:

The Startups For News Pre-Selection Map, courtesy of

After this intense application period, the startups are now being reviewed by an international jury, comprising journalists, entrepreneurs, investors and media experts.

Jeff Jarvis, Director at Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, author and blogger, is the president of our jury and reckons that SFN’s unique strength lies in “bringing inventive ideas and new thinking to our industry”.

Our jury is composed of:

  • Catalina Albeanu, International Editor at
  • Évangéline de Bourgoing, Director of Programmes at Global Editors Network
  • David Cohn, Senior Director Advance Digital
  • Ricardo Corredor Cure, Director of Gabriel García Márquez Foundation for New Journalism
  • Mohammed Haddad, Data Journalist Al Jazeera
  • Angela Oduor Lungati, Director of Community Engagement at Ushahidi
  • Turi Munthe, Venture Partner at North Base Media
  • Kalli Purie, Chief Creative Officer of the India Today Group
  • Maria Ressa, CEO of Rappler

Trends and solutions from our 2017 applicants

The applicants to the 2017 edition of the competition are very attuned to the challenges facing newsrooms and the media ecosystem as a whole, as we are seeing key trends emerging in the submissions.

After the latest elections, fact-checking has been at the centre of the debates. This was reflected in the submissions we received with startups developing new ways to better make and distribute fact-checks. How can algorithms help journalists detect news needing to be fact-checked? How can newsrooms better engage their communities in sourcing materials necessary for their fact-checking works? What kind of new user-experiences could newsrooms develop to make fact-checking more visible and understandable to their audience? These are a few of the questions the startups try to address.

We also received submissions from startups helping newsrooms develop cleverer bots. They are working on how to make bots better at handling natural language. They are also exploring ways to make bots multilingual, make them faster, use them for polling and make them deliver more personalised ads.

Solutions incorporating audio also seem to be having a moment. From projects mixing news reports with your favourite music or using voice messages to share opinions, our applicants are on top of the latest developments.

Monetisation is also a recurrent feature for this year’s competition, as some of our startups are putting forward new micro payment tools, innovative paywalls and new solutions to make up for the revenues lost to ad-blockers.

Thanks to SFN, we have also discovered new analytics startups. They are focusing on delivering highly comprehensive data to publishers, on making them easily understandable to everyone in the newsroom and, in order to comply with the demands of distributed content, they are also developing new ways to understand how stories are evolving across social platforms.

We also received interesting applications featuring new mobile journalism apps that turn journalists’ phones into Swiss army knives, enabling them to quickly shoot, edit and share riveting stories. What previously required camera and editing crews can now fit into part of a mobile phone at a fraction of earlier costs.

Pitch battles for SFN 2017 start in March

It is up now to our jury to select the 16 startups that will battle for a spot to pitch in front of over 750 editors-in-chief, journalists, executives, entrepreneurs and media executives attending the GEN Summit every year.

These chosen sixteen will start the online battles in March: two startups will face each other every week, presenting their projects, the modules they are fine-tuning, and how they would like these to impact newsrooms. From the 16 startups, only 8 finalists will get to pitch their idea at the GEN Summit, 21-23 June, in Vienna.

As we are receiving a growing number of applications each year from very varied startups around the world, the Startups for News team will produce a report with the best rated startups that have entered the competition, giving us an inkling into the innovative minds who are dedicating their time to address the issues testing the media ecosystem. This report will be presented at the GEN Summit in June and it will help editors and newsrooms alike to navigate the world of startups.

Stay tuned to find out more about this year’s competitors as we unveil them week after week during the online pitch battles.