Archive — Resources


Rita Allen Foundation joins Challenge Fund consortium with $200K grant

WASHINGTON, DC — A $200,000 grant from the Rita Allen Foundation will expand and strengthen the reach of a micro-grant contest run by the Online News Association (ONA), the world’s largest membership group of digital journalists. With the grant, the foundation joins the funding group behind a $1 million challenge encouraging universities to create teams that will experiment with new ways of providing news and information.

The Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education supports “live news experiments” that further the development of teaching hospital models in journalism education, in which students create innovative projects with news professionals, professors and researchers. It will produce from 15 to 25 projects during the next two years with micro-grants of as much as $35,000 each and grand prizes. The 12 winning experiments for the first round recently were announced.

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Lessons from Haiyan

This is one of a series of blog posts from the third ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are expanding the boundaries of digital news. The deadline to apply for this year’s fellowship closed on June 6. Fellow Armie Garde is assistant content editor and multimedia journalist for Sun.Star Publishing, Cebu City, Philippines.

Seven months after Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) devastated Central Philippines, killing thousands, survivors are slowly rebuilding their lives. Many things have changed, but life goes on. Hope is evident.

I have spent most of my life in Leyte, one of the storm-hit provinces, before I moved to Cebu City to study and to work eventually. Back home and in nearby Samar, Cebu and Iloilo provinces, thousands of people were killed, thousands of others were left homeless and displaced and many others are still missing even seven months after Haiyan’s devastation.

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Think Outside the (Advertising) Box

This is one of a series of blog posts from the third ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are expanding the boundaries of digital news. Applications to apply for this year’s fellowship closed on June 6. Fellow Ashley Lohmann is a media entrepreneur and founder/director of Beyond the Bombs.

When I launched Beyond the Bombs, my multimedia platform showcasing the untold stories of the Middle East and North Africa, I had prior professional experience in the region, as well as with the media. Yet, as the platform grew, I discovered that I was missing an important skill set: business experience.

If I hoped to expand the platform further, I needed to know how to secure funding and generate revenue. I began seeking advice from anyone I could — journalists, entrepreneurs, bloggers, investors. I quickly learned about funding resources for journalists and media start-ups, but when the conversation turned to revenue generation, the advice became less clear cut.

If you are working on a media project or start-up, here are a few places to start your search for fellowships and funding: Knight Foundation, Matter., International Women’s Media Foundation, UNITY Journalists for Diversity, and International Reporting Project. Also, seek out foundations and accelerators related to the issue your project or venture addresses.

Everyone, from early-stage start-ups to media giants, is grappling with the challenge of making digital media profitable. Advertising, subscriptions, and content licensing are oft-mentioned revenue options but rarely seem sufficient. From my advice-seeking conversations, I distilled two main suggestions for generating revenue.

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Finding ‘The Line’: Young Journalists Hungry to Discuss Ethics of Editorializing

This is one of a series of blog posts from the third ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are expanding the boundaries of digital news. Applications to apply for this year’s fellowship closed June 6. Fellow Kyle Stokes is the youth & education reporter at NPR member station KPLU in Seattle.

Recently, a group of J-school students at the University of Washington was intently, graciously listening as I bloviated about good blogging practices. Somewhere in the middle of a riff about how the best bloggers don’t wait for the perfect news peg to tell important stories — that they, in fact, set editorial calendars and post about important stuff simply because it’s important — a hand in the back of the room shot up.

“You’re talking about setting an agenda. Isn’t what you’re describing editorializing?” an incisive student interjected. “How do you know when you’re crossing that line?”

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Social Media Evolution: Coordinating Disaster Response

This is one of a series of blog posts from the third ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are expanding the boundaries of digital news. The deadline to apply for this year’s fellowship closed on June 6. Fellow Armie Garde is assistant content editor and multimedia journalist for Sun.Star Publishing, Cebu City, Philippines.

Social media platforms have turned into powerful tools for creating online communities to keep people informed and promote unanimity, especially during disaster response.

The Philippines experienced two major natural disasters in 2013, the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol October 15 and Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) on November 8.

Critical information about the damage caused by the quake, along with a few photos of its impact, were posted first on social media. Further, the Bohol Quake Assistance Facebook page provides an example of how social media is being used to monitor rehabilitation efforts in areas badly affected by the earthquake. It publishes photos of disaster response initiatives, such as the distribution of donations from local and international donors. It even includes photos of livelihood rebuilding ideas to help victims cope up with the economic impact of disaster.

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Take the Red Pill: Apply Your Journalism Skills to Being an Entrepreneur

This is one of a series of blog posts from the third ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are expanding the boundaries of digital news. Applications are open to apply for this year’s fellowship until June 6. Fellow Ashley Lohmann is a media entrepreneur and founder/director of Beyond the Bombs.

Becoming an entrepreneur is like a scene from The Matrix, at least according to IMDb Head of Business Development Harry Lin.

At ONA’s 2013 Conference & Awards Banquet, Lin opened his talk (“Am I Really an Entrepreneur“) with a screenshot from that film showing Morpheus offering Neo a blue pill with one hand and a red one with the other. The blue pill would allow Neo to remain in his comfortable, if unfulfilling, life, while the red pill would lead him into the unknown.

Lin’s allusion sounded intimidating, and I sat in the back of the room wondering, am I really an entrepreneur? Little did I know, I had already taken the red pill, and Lin’s talk would prove particularly relevant for me in the coming months.

In his talk, Lin explained that the traits that characterize journalists are indispensable in the startup world, and he urged his audience members to transfer those strengths to their entrepreneurial endeavors.

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Six Things You Can Learn From the Dark Underbelly of Your Site — a.k.a. The Comments Section

This is one of a series of blog posts from the third ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are expanding the boundaries of digital news. Applications are open to apply for this year’s fellowship until June 6. Fellow Kyle Stokes is the youth & education reporter at NPR member station KPLU in Seattle.

Seattle's famous troll — a statue under a bridge in the Fremont neighborhood — is considerably kinder than most internet trolls. (Kyle Stokes)

The reputation of the comments section as an “infamously troll-ridden Wild West of abuse, ignorance and spam” is alive and well. Popular Science shut down its comment sections. The Chicago Sun-Times did the same while it revamps the section. Vox launched without a comments featureQuartz and The Dish haven’t bothered with them, either. Even YouTube is cracking down on its commenters, some of whom have earned their reputations as the biggest bullies of the internet’s schoolyard.

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How live streaming helps natives abroad feel right at home

This is one of a series of blog posts from the third ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are expanding the boundaries of digital news. Applications are open to apply for this year’s fellowship until June 6. Fellow Armie Garde is assistant content editor and multimedia journalist for Sun.Star Publishing, Cebu City, Philippines.

Filipinos are everywhere around the world. I have relatives who work as engineers in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, former schoolmates who work as IT professionals in Singapore, Japan and Australia, and former colleagues who are now based in the United States, Europe and Africa. In total, more than two million Filipinos are working abroad, according to the 2013 Survey on Overseas Filipinos.

Most of them only get the chance to visit their home countries every two to four years. They miss celebrating special occasions — Christmas, New Year’s Eve, festivals — with their loved ones. Responding to their need to keep close ties with their countries, the Sun.Star website marks major news events in the Philippines through live streaming or real-time video reports.

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OJAs now honor storytelling with data and visualization

What makes the Online Journalism Awards unique — besides being the only comprehensive honors for digital journalism — is that, like our industry, they’re constantly evolving.

Each year, the committee tasked with bringing the OJAs to journalists around the world revisits the awards categories to see if 1) they still hold up, and 2) they’re missing any truly innovative developments. That’s been the drill since ONA’s founders launched the awards in 2000 with the full understanding that technology would not only upend reporting, storytelling and distribution, but strengthen the role and power of the community.

This year is no different. Under the direction of Chair Josh Hatch, the OJAs have undergone the annual fine-tuning that has made them the standard bearer for our industry. The awards open with 33 categories, and 10 now come with a total of $52,500 in prize money, honoring data journalism, visual digital storytelling, investigative journalism, technical innovation in the service of journalism, public service and general excellence.

Three new or modified categories are worth noting as perfect examples of the need to keep pace with the creative work journalists are undertaking:

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Crowdsourcing Quality Content to Build Quality Communities

This is one of a series of blog posts from the third ONA class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under 30 who are expanding the boundaries of digital news. Applications are open to apply for this year’s fellowship until June 6. Fellow Ashley Lohmann is a media entrepreneur and founder/director of Beyond the Bombs.

On the website for Beyond the Bombs—my multimedia project showcasing the untold stories of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)—we publish content from contributors across the globe. This week alone features an article from a peace activist in Lebanon, a video from a filmmaker in Iran, and drawings from school children in Yemen photographed by a political researcher there.

Beyond the Bombs operates on a crowdsourced model to gather content from storytellers in a compelling way. Crowdsourcing is key to our mission because it helps us uncover stories and perspectives from and about MENA that rarely find their way into mainstream media.

However, crowdsourcing also has its downsides. When seeking content producers outside of the usual journalism channels, it can be difficult to know where to look and how to reach them. Once you’ve made contact, obtaining quality content (particularly pro bono) poses the greatest challenge, followed closely by enforcing deadlines. Finally, there’s the long-term struggle to build a consistent stream of content contributions.

I’m frequently asked how we get so much great content, so I’ve compiled a few strategies that I use for effective content crowdsourcing:

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