We’ve Just Won the 2022 Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge! Dispatch from The Republic

We’re pleased to announce that The Republic has been selected as a recipient of the Google News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge. The GNI Innovation Challenges ’empower news organizations from around the world that pioneer new thinking in online journalism, develop new paths to sustainability and better understand their communities.’

With the support of the GNI, we are excited to develop ‘Atlas’—a digital platform helping newsrooms source and license quality images from local African photographers and photojournalists.

With Atlas, built by Africans for Africans, we aim not only to bridge this diversity gap but reshape the media industry which will revolutionize how the world ‘sees’ and understands Africa.

The Republic is one of five Nigerian publications (including the Foundation for Investigative Journalism Nigeria) that won this challenge. The GNI Innovative Challenge was launched in 2018 and today, The Republic has become the first magazine in Nigeria to win this challenge.

A message from founder and editor-in-chief, Wale Lawal
Photojournalism has a diversity problem. In a 2018 World Press Photo survey of over 1,000 international photographers, for instance, only 1 per cent identified as Black. Local and international newsrooms struggle to find compelling Africa-focused photography to accompany their reporting, while African photographers find it difficult to reach large audiences, formally monetize their work and gain steady incomes. As a result, dignified images of Africans remain scarce in the global news and media industries, and African photographers remain underrepresented on the global stage.
Organizations like ours spend considerable amounts of time sourcing photos from across Africa. We have also observed many organizations resort to using either illegally acquired images or stereotypical images that perpetuate harmful narratives.
We will address these issues for our newsroom and wider industry by building Atlas, a digital platform for discovering, sourcing and licensing quality images from local photographers from underrepresented communities. Starting with Nigeria, Atlas will host relevant news and editorial images curated from local photographers and photojournalists which anyone (from bloggers to newsrooms to corporates in need of relatable stock photos) can instantly download. A selection of photos will be available free while premium photos will be available at affordable rates set by individual photographers.

This means more dignifying, attractive and engaging visual content that newsrooms can use to retain audiences or to publish on image-based platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok. It means turning photojournalism into a viable, more formal means of livelihood for African photographers.

Africa has historically been misrepresented in the media and so we’re eager to see Atlas not only reshape the media industry but also revolutionize how the world ‘sees’ and understands Africa