Journalism 360 Challenge Opens Offering $250,000 For Immersive Storytelling Projects

Google News Lab and ONA team with Knight Foundation to fund projects that help advance the use of virtual reality, augmented reality and 360-video for news

By on March 8, 2017

This is a cross-post of a press release from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, one of our Journalism 360 partners. You can read the original post here.

The Journalism 360 Challenge opens for applications today, seeking innovative ideas that will help create and expand best practices in the use of immersive storytelling, including narratives, ethics and production.

This is the inaugural challenge by Journalism 360, an initiative launched in 2016 by Knight Foundation, Google News Lab and the Online News Association to accelerate the use of immersive storytelling in news. The challenge will help fulfill Journalism 360’s mission of developing an international network of journalists to explore and share knowledge about their work with immersive storytelling. Winners will receive a share of $250,000 for early-stage projects that address the question: How might we experiment with immersive storytelling to advance the field of journalism?

Winning ideas will receive up to $35,000 to test, refine and build out a project. With this open call, we hope to encourage news organizations to experiment with immersive storytelling and to also discover new methods, best practices and tools that can be shared across the field. We’re open to a range of ideas and look forward to being surprised and delighted by the proposals.

Projects might include:

  • Ideas that use mixed reality, virtual reality, augmented reality and 360-degree video to engage audiences.
  • Ideas that can provide best practices for replication and iteration across the field.
  • Ideas that help democratize immersive storytelling tools and methods for news organizations.

The challenge is open to journalists, technologists, entrepreneurs, gamers, software developers and academics, to news organizations, startups, established businesses, nonprofits and individuals. The challenge closes April 10, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Anyone can submit an idea during the open period at:

“Immersive storytelling technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality and 360-degree video are opening new and valuable ways for journalists to engage and connect with audiences,” said Irving Washington, executive director of ONA. “Through the initial Journalism 360 Challenge, we will help reveal ways in which immersive storytelling can be integrated into the newsroom process.”

“Immersive storytelling is still a nascent field, but one that offers tremendous opportunities for journalists to tell stories and engage with users in new ways,” said Jennifer Preston, vice president for journalism at Knight Foundation. “The challenge will help build a network of journalists and technologists committed to sharing best practices and learning from each other.”

“We believe experimentation with new technology, collaboration between newsrooms and sharing learnings across the industry is critical,” said Erica Anderson, partnerships manager at Google News Lab. “That’s why we’re excited to be part of the Journalism 360 Challenge–an effort that will drive this new frontier of journalism and enable journalists and technologists to advance the field together.”

The challenge is open to anyone; for-profits, nonprofits and individuals from anywhere can apply. More information is available on the FAQ page.

The Journalism 360 Challenge is part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to advance excellence in journalism through experimentation and new forms of storytelling. Recent efforts include a report to address many of the field’s challenges and opportunities, as well as a project with Frontline and The Emblematic Group to document best practices in the use of virtual reality for journalism.

About Online News Association
The Online News Association is the world’s largest association of online journalists. ONA’s mission is to inspire innovation and excellence among journalists to better serve the public. The membership includes news writers, producers, designers, editors, bloggers, technologists, photographers, academics, students and others who produce and distribute news for digital delivery systems. ONA also hosts the annual Online News Association annual conference and administers the Online Journalism Awards.

About Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit

About Google News Lab
The Google News Lab was created in 2015 with a mission to collaborate with journalists and entrepreneurs to help build the future of media. Throughout the past two years, the News Lab has worked alongside news organizations and innovators around the world to help address the most important topics at the intersection of media and technology. In particular, projects and experiments focus around Trust and Verification, Data Journalism, Inclusive Storytelling, and Immersive Storytelling.


Trevor Knoblich

As ONA's Chief Knowledge Officer, Trevor works to coordinate information sharing internally, oversees learning for all ONA programs, as well as registration and logistics for events.