News Lab Awarded Grant for Journalism Education

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The Georgia News Lab was one of a dozen university based collaboratives awarded $35,000 WebWASHINGTON, D.C. — A dozen U.S. universities each won a $35,000 micro-grant to seed collaborative news experiments in living labs — their communities, the Online News Association announced today.

The competitive Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education was created to encourage universities to experiment with new ways of providing news and information.

The fund is the brainchild of a collaborative that includes the Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Democracy Fund, and is managed by the Online News Association (ONA), the world’s largest membership group of digital journalists.

The 125 entries for the 2014-15 academic year were judged on their ability to create collaborative, student-produced local news coverage, bridge the professor-professional gap, use innovative techniques and technologies and learn from digital-age news experiments. Winning teams included some combination of students, researchers, media professionals, educators, developers and designers.

“We zeroed in on ideas and teams that we hope inspire innovation, collaboration and real-world impact in academia and media,” said Irving Washington, ONA Operations Director, who administered the selection process. “The potential for true community engagement in the winning projects was every bit as important as the tools and technology used to achieve it.”

Winning schools and their experiments, announced at the 2014 Journalism Interactive Conference for journalism educators and digital media, include:

Arizona State University, “Finding the Middle Ground”: The investigative News21 project will use databases and other engagement tools to test the idea that deep engagement with groups on both sides of a divisive issue — guns — may have an impact on both the final investigation and how the groups react to it. Partner: Public Insight Journalism.

CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, “Hack the Mold”: CUNY will experiment with both in-person and on-line engagement with tenants when reporting on a low-income community’s experiences with mold in New York City public housing. Partner: The New York Daily News.

Florida International University, “Sea Level Rise: South Florida”: Can data feeds, “crowd hydrology” and student-led journalism — with strong support from public television — increase community engagement about sea level rise in South Florida? Partners: Code for Miami, Hacks/Hackers, WPBT2, South Florida Water Management District.

Georgia Collaborative, “Georgia News Lab”: An ambitious collaborative, including Georgia State University, Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University, University of Georgia and two major local news outlets, will try to increase newsroom diversity by training digitally savvy investigative reporters. Media partners: Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSBTV.

San Diego State University, “What’s in the Air?”: Journalism and geology students will partner with a nonprofit news organization to experiment with the concept that using electronic sensors to test air quality in San Diego [read more]

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