Google, LION partner to help launch 24 local news startups

Two dozen early- or idea-stage publishing projects in the U.S. and Canada will get free, expert advice on honing their business plans, engaging with their audiences and reaching financial sustainability as part of an effort announced this week by the Google News Initiative and LION Publishers.

More than 250 people applied for what’s officially known as the Google News Initiative Startup Labs Boot camp, underscoring the broad interest in creating new, quality, independent publishing outlets.

The winners will start an eight-week remote journalism business bootcamp this month, run by LION and Phillip Smith, an entrepreneur coach specializing in journalism. The Google News Initiative is picking up the tab.

The selected projects represent a broad swath of interests, according to the news release from the Local Independent Online News Publishers:

* 15 are focused on serving geographically local communities and 9 are focused on single-subject/niche communities.

* Of those 15 local news projects, 4 are focused on state or regional coverage, 5 are focused on urban communities and 6 are focused on rural communities.

* 17 are led by people of color.

* 8 of the projects are being launched by entrepreneurs who don’t come from formal journalism backgrounds.

* Half of the projects have either built a prototype, are in pre-launch or public beta or have launched. The other half either haven’t built anything yet, have made some mocks/renderings or have some ideas/sketches.

* 4 are Canada-based; 20 are U.S.-based (including 1 who is also based in Puerto Rico.)

LION said some applicants were further along in their development than would have been appropriate for this program, and organizers plan to create a second phase of the effort, both for these more-advanced efforts as well as graduates of the first phase.

For more information, follow @anikaanand00, @phillipadsmith, @LIONPubs and @GoogleNewsInit on Twitter.