With support from the Google News Initiative, The Associated Press is launching a pilot project aimed at increasing local news coverage and improving the way member news organizations collaborate, according to the AP.

The pilot project, called the Local News Sharing Network, will take place in NewYork state over the next year. News sharing is expected to begin in early 2020.

Nearly two dozen members plan to participate, includingThe Daily Freeman,The Observer Dispatch,TheTimes Union, WFUV, WRNN and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

“This is the first time AP and its member news organizations will formally and consistently share and coordinate coverage plans before publication,” says Lauren Easton, theAP’s director of media relations.

The prototype site will allow NewYork members to post potential news events and volunteer to provide text and visuals for the group to use. “The idea is to share limited resources and cover the most amount of news possible by working together. Currently, as a not-for-profit cooperative, AP members share published content, but they lack a formal way to coordinate coverage plans,” Easton said. New York was chosen because of its rich history of journalism, AP memberships, broad geography and news volume.

The tool harkens back to AP’s 1846 founding, when five NewYork City papers funded a pony express route through Alabama to bring news of the Mexican-American War north quickly.

‘Good fit’ for Google collaboration

The Local News Sharing Network represents an idea thatAP has aimed to encourage in the industry, and the Google funding and requirement that participants share what they learn made the collaborative project a good fit for GNI, according to Easton.

There is no cost in the program and participation is voluntary forAP members.

“AP is committed to helping our members deliver great local journalism in every way that we can,” saidAP Deputy Managing Editor for U.S. News Noreen Gillespie. “This kind of collaboration is core to the AP — it’s why we were founded more than 170 years ago. Empowering our members to share coverage plans allows them to be more efficient in covering local news stories at a critical time when newsrooms have to make smart decisions about where to put their resources.”

“A key tenet of the Google News Initiative is to work together with publishers like the AP to foster a healthy and diverse news ecosystem,” said Google Director of U.S. News and Publishing Partnerships Nathalie Sajous.

The $300 million Google News Initiative is “our effort to work with the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age,” says Google.

AP worked with Google in 2017 as well, to develop AP Verify, a tool that newsrooms can use to automatically verify user-generated content (UGC).The tool analyzes social media information to identify the source of content and assess whether the source has legitimately posted important news content or whether there are factors that indicate otherwise.

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