Journalism 360 Challenge FAQ

Updated for the 2020 Challenge

How can I apply?

The Journalism 360 Challenge is open from July 29, 2020  until August 20, 20208 at 11:59 p.m. ET. You may submit your application here. We ask a few questions to get a sense of your project, how you’re approaching it, and who you are. While the submission phase is open, you can save your application as a draft and revisit any time.

Who may enter the Journalism 360 Challenge?

The challenge is open to journalists, technologists, entrepreneurs, gamers, software developers and academics, news organizations, startups, established businesses, nonprofits and individuals, anywhere in the world.

May I apply from outside the United States?

Yes. The Journalism 360 challenge is open to applicants from anywhere in the world. However, the application must be completed in English to be placed under consideration and receive fair evaluation by our reviewers.

Is my application private?

Yes. Your application will not be viewable to the public and will only be reviewed by staff at Online News Association, as well as a select group of advisers and screeners who will assist us in determining the challenge winners.

Have any tips for good applications?

We will review and evaluate applications on the strength of your idea, its potential to impact the field of journalism, replicability, innovation and your ability to execute the project. Please note that these applications will be reviewed by thought leaders in both the journalism and immersive spaces.

Be brief and be visual. Ask people who don’t know your project to review your application. Make sure it fits the theme. Make sure that a stranger with no knowledge of your field could read the first few sentences of your application and then describe your idea concisely to someone else. The simpler the better.

Review the requirements before preparing your application.

I have an early-stage idea. May I still apply?

Yes. The challenge focuses on early-stage ideas, recognizing that experiments will help advance the use of new technology in newsrooms. We’re hoping to help demystify the techniques and technology used for immersive storytelling to democratize the platform for news organizations, journalists, nonprofits and individuals alike.

May I apply with a project that I have already started?

Yes, if you’re proposing to do new, innovative things within the existing project.

Would it be possible to combine this with corporate sponsorship?

Yes, the Challenge winners can receive corporate sponsorship, provided the project is still built as open source.

Is the challenge only focused on VR/AR and 360 video or can ‘immersive storytelling’ be defined more broadly?

As this area is still very new, we are open to creative interpretations of “immersive” beyond VR, AR, MR/XR and 360 video, but bear in mind the focus should be on technological innovations that broaden this area of storytelling for journalists.

Can you elaborate on “building fast”?

Projects should be able to reach prototype phase within 9 months and be available to share at a public demo day within a year. Mid-term reports and regular updates will be required for Challenge winners to report on their progress.

Who decides who wins?

The Online News Association will determine the winners of the challenge. During the review process, we read applications with the help of a group of outside advisers and field experts as well as representatives from Knight Foundation.

How much money is available?

Winners will receive a share of $100,000 for early-stage projects. The funding will go towards testing, refining and building out a project.  We will award grants up to $10,000. In your application, you’ll tell us how much funding you are requesting for your project, up to $10,000.

What parts of my budget will you fund?

We’ll pay for what it takes to design, develop and implement the project, as well as marketing and travel. We don’t fund universities’ overhead costs or administrative fees.

What kind of projects are ineligible for funding?

As required by IRS rules, the Challenge funds can’t be used to:

  • Engage in direct lobbying activities (i.e., contacting legislators regarding specific legislation).
  • Engage in grassroots lobbying activities (i.e., encouraging the public to contact legislators regarding specific legislation).
  • Participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for elective public office.
  • Support a voter registration drive (unless the grantee is a Section 4945(f) organization).
  • Benefit a private party (other than through providing grant funds to conduct activities in furtherance of charitable and educational purposes).
What are the funding options for a nonprofit organization?

We offer charitable grants to registered U.S. nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) status.

I’m a for-profit company. May I enter?

Yes. There are several funding options. Don’t worry too much about those specifics before applying. If you’re selected to move forward as a semifinalist or finalist, we’ll communicate with you about the details.

Can two organizations or people submit a collaborative project?

Yes. We have funding mechanisms to make partnership projects possible.

If I applied to a previous Journalism 360, ONA or Knight Foundation challenge and did not win, may I apply again?

Absolutely, and you should, if you have an idea that fits the theme.

How many different projects may I submit to the Journalism 360 Challenge?

As many as you like.

I’m not a software developer or designer, but I have a good idea that requires technology. May I apply?

Yes, absolutely. But you should keep in mind that we’ve found that the most successful technology projects are those with technology expertise on the team from the early stages.

Do I hold the intellectual property rights for my idea?

Yes. All materials will be owned by the grantee. The grantee will give ONA and its funding partners worldwide license to publish materials or other works produced from use of grant funds. This license is to allow open use of the tools and techniques so the innovations can spread.

What is your definition of “open source”?

Software that is available for anyone to use or build upon at the conclusion of the grant period. You will own your platform, but you will have to share the software you develop under a GNU General Public License(GPL),or other open source license, by agreement with us, and any content, documents, manuals or instructions under Creative Commons licensing. We consider exceptions to these requirements on a case-by-case basis.

How may I learn more and stay updated?

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