Nieman Foundation at Harvard
The Society of Professional Journalists faces a “dire situation”
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Sept. 15, 2016, 11 a.m.
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Joseph Lichterman   |   September 15, 2016

Five foundations on Thursday said they were continuing to support a program administered by the Online News Association which provides grants of up to $35,000 to universities to conduct experiments in journalism education which allow students to report on local news.

The five foundations — the Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund, the Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the McCormick Foundation, and the Rita Allen Foundation — said they were contributing $985,000 to support the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education for an additional two years.

The program is administered by the Online News Association, and the new funding was announced in Denver at the association’s annual conference.

The fund will begin accepting applications this fall, and the accepted projects must be completed during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. At least one of the projects that is deemed most impactful will receive a grand prize as well.

The foundations initially launched the fund in 2013, and it has supported 23 projects over the past two academic years. Winning efforts from the previous two cycles included, a factchecking website out of Howard University that focuses on the African-American community; Hack the Mold, a partnership between CUNY and the New York Daily News that covered unsanitary living conditions in New York CIty’s public housing; and the Georgia News Lab, an investigative reporting collaboration between four Georgia universities and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB. The News Lab won the $65,000 grand prize and raised an additional $90,000 to continue its reporting.

In a statement released by the Knight Foundation (which, full disclosure, is also a funder of Nieman Lab), the fund explained how it would choose the winning teams:

Teams will be selected based on ideas that show the most potential for encouraging collaborative, student-produced local news coverage, bridging the professor-professional gap, using innovative techniques and technologies, and learning from digital-age news experiments. This round will also focus on projects that experiment in four key areas: diversity, technology, community engagement and civic participation.

All the details about how to apply for a grant are available on ONA’s website.

Knight and the Google News Lab on Thursday also announced that they will jointly fund a $500,000 effort to support experiments in 360º video, augmented reality, and virtual reality.

The project, called Journalism360, will also be administered by ONA. It will put on workshops and events and produce digital resources, such as case studies, to help journalists experiment with these immersive storytelling methods.

Next year, Journalism360 will also launch its own challenge fund, which will award grants from $5,000 to $35,000 to support experiments in these fields “that will advance the collective understanding of these new forms including narratives, ethics, production and other issues,” according to a statement from Knight.

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