The , in partnership with the , the , and the , has announced the launch of a $1 million competition to encourage universities to create teams dedicated to experimenting with new ways of providing news and information.
Administered by the , the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education will support "live news experiments" that further the development of teaching-hospital models in journalism education and encourage students to create innovative projects with professors, researchers, and professionals. Teams will be selected based on which of their ideas have with the greatest potential for encouraging collaborative student-produced local news coverage, bridging the professor-professional gap, and taking advantage of innovative techniques and technologies. Contest rules and application forms will be made available in November for projects to be completed in the summer of 2014 and the 2014-15 academic year.
"By doing real journalism in a living lab — the community — students are not only exposed to the way media ecosystems work and are better prepared for real-world careers, they also have the opportunity to meaningfully contribute to and invest in the community in which they are living," said Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation president and CEO Bob Ross.
The fund expects to support between fifteen to twenty-five projects over the next two years with grants of up to $35,000 each. The four collaborating foundations have committed a total of $850,000 to launch the project, and additional funders are expected to join the effort in 2014, bringing the total funding available to at least $1 million.
Winners of the competition will be chosen in consultation with academic advisors and ONA leaders, and the grand-prize winner will be the project most likely to change local newsgathering, journalism education, or both. "Of the twelve thousand college-level journalism professors, the number active in digital groups is in the hundreds," said the Knight Foundation's Eric Newton. "Those pioneers may only be a small number now, but they can be like a drop of neon green dye in a clear liquid, spreading out and changing everything,"