Google News Initiative Newsroom Leadership Program | Columbia Journalism School

Google News Initiative Newsroom Leadership Program


The program aims to enhance the leadership skills and nimble decision-making capacity of emerging newsroom leaders in the Asia-Pacific region, with particular focus on applied technology, audience-centric behaviors, design thinking, data applications, understanding business models and editorial innovation.

Fellows will gain skills and knowledge to make better strategic decisions for their newsrooms and audiences. Each Fellow will also work on a specific project during the year that is relevant to their newsroom within the main fellowship topics: technology, monetization and data.

The program emphasizes:

  • Building a practical understanding of how news companies around the world —large and small, legacy and start-up—actually operate as businesses, and how technology has revolutionized what it means to be a news publisher.

  • Developing a framework for evaluating the costs and benefits of introducing technology-driven changes into workflows and resourcing, and how to create and manage a plan for change management within the organization.   

  • Leveraging data and the latest technology to create compelling content and understand audiences, while thinking about publishing “products” when putting together journalism packages.  

  • Learning how to facilitate design-thinking in newsrooms using Google's design sprint methodology, which is used to solve problems and develop products, as the initial step for developing their project.


Specific topics may include:

  • Today’s Media Business

                 **Understanding both traditional and new revenue models

  • Leadership in Unstable Times

                 **Techniques for handling disruption and transition

                 **Managing a team with diverse skills

  • The Role of Data in the Newsroom and the Board Room
  • Design-Thinking and Building News Products
  • Power Skills: How to Develop Soft Skills for Effective Leadership


The GNI Newsroom Leadership Program includes four weeks of on-site classroom sessions, with Columbia University School of Journalism delivering the core training over three weeks, supplemented by other training offered by Google. Fellows will receive individual coaching on their projects throughout the year.

  • Applications open: April 22

  • Application deadline: June 26 The complete application - including a personal goals essay, two letters of recommendation and a clear articulation of the individual project - must be submitted by the deadline in order to be considered. Applications are considered on a rolling basis, and shortlisted applicants are interviewed by the Google News Initiative. Shortlisted applications are sent to Columbia, which makes the final selection.

  • Successful applicants are notified: July 31

  • Week 1 - October 7-11, 2019: To be delivered by Columbia University in New York: Fellows will be in a classroom setting learning sessions with Columbia faculty and other curated experts. Fellows will learn from and engage with select leaders in American newsrooms.

  • Week 2 - October 14-18, 2019: Following the Columbia session, this will be delivered by Google at its headquarters in Mountain View, California: Fellows will learn how to facilitate design-thinking in their own newsrooms using Google's design sprint methodology, which is used to solve problems and develop products, as the initial step for developing their project. Fellows will begin to sharply define and fine-tune their original challenge project to bring innovation to their newsroom. Fellows will learn about the various tools that can support their goals for editorial innovation, monetization and audience engagement.

  • Week 3 - March 2-6, 2020: To be delivered by Columbia University in either Hong Kong or Tokyo: Fellows will primarily work on their individual projects with help from select Columbia and other project mentors, supplemented by classroom modules

  • Week 4: June 1-5, 2020:  To be delivered by Columbia in NYC: Fellows will finalize their individual projects. Focus will be on one-on-one interactions with Fellows.


Drawing on curricula developed by senior faculty and delivered by our professional education programs at Columbia Journalism School, this portion of the Fellowship will provide a management-level grounding on how to apply learnings to broader real-life newsroom scenarios and challenges, as well as to the Fellows’ specific projects.  

The classroom portion of the Columbia curriculum will guide all the Fellows on better understanding current and emerging media landscape, specifically around technology, data, business models, monetization, innovation, multimedia audience engagement and disruption. The focus will be on applying the learnings to both the Asia-Pacific region as well as to help the Fellows think through their specific projects.

An integral part of the curriculum will be seminars by curated industry speakers and conversations with news organizations.

2019-2020 Fellowship class



For questions about the application process or the Google News Initiative, please contact Irene Jay at For questions regarding the curriculum or program, please contact Kate Kennedy at