ONA Weekly #339: $140,000 For Innovation In Journalism Education And Local News

By on December 16, 2020

$140,000 for innovation in journalism education and local news

We’re thrilled to announce the winners of the 2020 Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, which supports collaboration between local news organizations and universities. Each of the seven winners will embark on a project to engage their students while finding innovative ways to inform their communities. Learn more about the projects.

  • Boston University: Justice Media Co-Lab: Media Racial Bias Self-Assessment Tool
  • Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY: Civic Newsroom
  • Colorado College Journalism Institute: Mapping and Engaging Allies to Build Colorado’s Local News Future
  • Hussman School for Journalism and Media, UNC Chapel Hill: Operationalizing Professional-University Investigative Reporting Partnerships
  • Universidad del Sagrado Corazón: Nuestro Barrio Community Media Lab
  • DePaul University: Journalism for Health Equity in Chicago
  • University of Southern California: The LA Taco x USC Collaborative Community Zine Project


Election SOS: Continued election aftermath support

Democracy isn’t seasonal! Election SOS offers free critical resources to support your election reporting. Explore our database of 270+ vetted nonpartisan experts and check out our Medium page to get more project insights!

Revenue-generating ideas to inspire you

We’ve seen some incredible examples of newsrooms pivoting and adapting this year to meet every new challenge that sprang up. As you plan for new things to test out in 2021, explore a few interesting ideas that caught our eye.

  • Voice of OC focused on quick adjustments and easy wins for their donation pitches when the pandemic hit, continually measuring what they were doing and iterating. Their recurring donors are now up 671%! (Skip to 10 minutes into the linked video for the full explanation).
  • Axios is selling its first software-as-a-service product which aims to help companies communicate more effectively by calculating a “Smart Brevity” score on internal memos.
  • Local news site network TAPinto has been experimenting with a franchise model. Franchisee advertising revenue increased by more than 10% in January through October 2020, compared to the same window in 2019. 
  • Among other tactics, PublicSource narrowed its coverage from the entire state of Pennsylvania to just Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. More focused stories with a deeper impact has helped them appeal to supporters who want to make a difference.
  • The Las Vegas Review-Journal launched a podcast about organized crime, which was unlike anything else in their lineup. The podcast garnered over 450,000 downloads, and attracted two new sponsors whose contributions made the project “more than worth our while,” according to Journal staff.

Send us something you’re proud of

We want to feature 2020 highlights from the ONA Community in next week’s newsletter—because it’s been a hard year, and you all deserve to be celebrated. Reply to this email and send us 2-3 sentences about something you’re proud of by Dec. 22, whether it’s something you created, a career change, positive feedback you received from readers or a leap into something unknown. Be sure to include your title and organization in the format you’d like to be identified. 

Upcoming events

ONA Local groups regularly host events for digital journalists all over the world. Find a group near you or learn how to start a new one. Note: All ONA Local events are currently happening online, and open to all regardless of where you’re located.

Career opportunities

ONA’s Career Center is an excellent resource for jobs, fellowships and internships in digital journalism. Recent postings include:

Holiday discount: Use code 8MZC8ACQ for 25% off any single or three-pack of listings (on top of your ONA member discount!).

On our radar