While many countries have seen print newspapers evaporate as everything moves online, India's papers have held on strong, continuing to serve local communities in local languages. Many of these do not have the staff or funding to manage a corresponding website or online version of their newspaper, so people are forced to get a print copy.
Google has decided to jump in an help these newspapers with Navlekhā, an initiative designed to bring local newspapers in to 2018.
"Navlekhā, a Google initiative, helps you easily make offline content fully editable and publish online without expert digital knowledge," Google says in their announcement. The platform is available soon for Hindi publications and plans to expand to more languages later this year.
With Navlekhā, users fill out an application and then wait for a response from the Google team, which will help you create and maintain a website specifically for your publication.
Once you have your website, you will be able to use Google's platform to upload PDFs of the print version of your newspaper, which will take it from there and manage most of the process. Navlekhā will scan each page, upload each story, and allow you to edit or curate stories easily Google said.
Google succinctly boils down the service to three things: Gaining access to a currently untapped online reader market, free services, and domain names for the first three years, and Google's AdSense program, which allows you to "tap into the largest network of online advertisers who are bidding for your ad space."
"Your audience is already searching for content online. Don't miss out on readership and increase awareness of your publication by growing your online presence," the company wrote.
"We will help you get your content online for free. We will not charge for our publication tools and the domain name for the first three years. All you need to get started is your content and a commitment to bring your publication online."
India's Business Today said the project was announced at Google's fourth 'Google for India' event, where Google's vice president of search engineering Shashidhar Thakur said 90 percent of the 150 government-registered newspapers did not have a website.
"50 percent more Indians are using mobile search daily. But most of the documents available on the web today are in English and a very few in Indian languages," she said during the event, according to Business Today. "For search to be truly helpful, it should bring you useful content, in all the languages you understand."
There are a variety of reasons why so few publications are online, but most were related to the costs of starting and managing a website, as well as the difficulty in copying text written or typed in non-Unicode Indian language fonts from PDFs to web pages.
Navlekhā, which means "a new way to write" in Sanskrit, uses AI to get around this, allowing all PDFs written in Indian languages to be transformed into editable text documents.
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- Navlekhā is a new Google platform for India that will help print publications move their content online to access new readers and more advertising money.
- The service will create and manage the website for you, and all you have to do is upload PDFs of your newspaper, in any language, for it to work.
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