Double Google DNI win for Studio

UCLan’s Media Innovation Studio is celebrating winning two projects from the Google Digital News Initiative (DNI) Innovation Fund to push the boundaries of journalism innovation.

Value My News is a six-figure project that will deliver a suite of tools to enable hyperlocals to create and capture revenues in new ways.

SenseMaker, which has received funding worth €48,000, brings together UCLan’s Media Innovation Studio and Engineering Innovation Centre, publisher Reach and the Manchester Evening News, and a range supporting partners to ‘co-create’ web-connected sensor packs for journalism.

Google DNI is a European-wide fund that is geared towards supporting innovation journalism and the media.  

Value My News

Value My News will deliver a suite of tools to enable hyperlocals to create and capture revenues in three new ways over two years: through the sharing economy by pooling resources, from new leads and sales, and by tracking where content has been used and not financially credited. Independent community and hyperlocal media form an integral part of the news ecosystem. Yet they struggle to find a sustainable revenue model.

So the focus is at the hyperlocal level: where journalism is most valued but also most at risk. We know that content produced at a grassroots level is valuable further up the news food chain, yet content producers do not always get a fair share of the revenue generated from their work. We will transform the sector by capturing revenues otherwise leaking through the supply chain.

Value My News (VMN) will build sustainability by creating revenue streams and adding new revenue-informed KPIs. It will demonstrate a compelling new model with key learnings for other media systems elsewhere in Europe and deliver a white label product for market. The innovation lies in trialling an approach to pool content from UK hyperlocal publishers.

Value My News is a collaboration between the University of Central Lancashire’s Media Innovation Studio and lead partner the University of Cardiff’s Centre for Community Journalism. We will work to strengthen the hyperlocal publishers who are members of the newly formed Independent Community News Network (ICNN).

Principal Investigator and co-founder of the Media Innovation Studio, Clare Cook, said: “We are keen to tackle a problem that’s been troubling community and hyperlocal news publishers for a very long time. We truly believe that Value My News can both transform and sustain this sector, by creating new revenue streams. I am motivated by pragmatic solutions that uncover sustainable revenues which can improve the lived experiences of niche media. This is a massive step to create new knowledge as well as real-world impact. “


With partners spanning engineering and journalism, and with supporting partners including the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and, SenseMaker will design and develop dedicated journalism sensor kits that respond to, reveal, or add value to, local issues via a co-creation methodology. We will test the premise that by co-creating sensors and data collection tools, our prototypes will be highly relevant and suitable for journalists and their communities.

Our outputs will include novel and highly relevant connected sensing kits; rich multimedia content generated from collected data; data visualisations and new editorial opportunities.

For example, our sensor prototypes could detect pollution, biometric data, thermal imagery, noise, infrared and audio information and the resulting datasets will prompt novel and compelling editorial responses; enabling citizens and journalists to work together in creating compelling content, or independently verifying official/third party data.

It also offers the opportunity to create new revenue models.

By combining previously uncovered information and data with local knowledge and situations, we aim help users/audiences interpret and make sense of the world they live in.

John Mills, lecturer and research at the Media Innovation Studio and project lead, said: “We’re excited about connecting people, data and stories. By including a range of industry and community groups in our process, we hope to create compelling and relevant editorial content via unique sensing devices. It’s going to be a fascinating project.”

Alison Gow, Editor-in-Chief (Digital) with Reach Regionals, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our journalists to explore new ways of generating environmental data, enabling them to tell the stories which we know are important to local audiences.

“The SenseMaker project will allow reporters to engage with communities, and also policymakers, around key local issues and could also help shape the agenda for addressing these issues.”

Catalina Albeanu, International Editor at, said: “The SenseMaker project will have a tangible impact on the tools available to journalists in newsrooms of all sizes to better report on their communities. By bringing together journalists and technologists to explore the use of sensors for newsgathering, SenseMaker will be able to create prototypes and new use cases that are accessible to both national and local media and can realistically be integrated into day-to-day reporting practices.”

The Media Innovation Studio has been funded a total of three times by Google DNI. It received funding in 2016 for NewsThings, which sought to create and build dedicated Internet of Things  devices that conveyed news and information to newsrooms and the public. It’s three prototypes – ConeThing, RadioThing and PrinterThing, have been demoed internationally, and are currently undergoing in-depth user trials to allow the team to better understand how journalism could take advantage of a new publication platform.  

Both projects will begin later this year.