San Diego, California - San Diego State University was one of a dozen U.S. universities who each won a $35,000 micro-grant to seed collaborative news experiments in living labs - their communities, the Online News Association announced today.

 

 

 

SDSU’s winning experiment "What’s in the Air?" pairs journalism and geology students with a nonprofit news organization, inewsource, to experiment with the concept that using electronic sensors to test air quality in San Diego can help the public be more informed about pollution and its impact on the city.

 

"We are looking forward to kicking-off this project and collaborating with our partners and the greater San Diego community to tell an important story for San Diegans using innovative sensor technology and solid shoe-leather reporting," said Amy Schmitz Weiss, associate professor in SDSU’s School of Journalism & Media Studies.

 

 

Announced at the 2014 Journalism Interactive Conference, funding the for the winners comes from the competitive Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, created to encourage universities to experiment with new ways of providing news and information.

 

 

The fund is the brainchild of a collaborative that includes the Excellence and Ethics in

 

Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the John S. and James L.

 

Knight Foundation and the Democracy Fund, and is managed by the Online News

 

 

 

Association (ONA), the world’s largest membership group of digital journalists.

 

 

Innovative collaborations

 

 

 

The 125 entries for the 2014-15 academic year were judged on their ability to create collaborative, student-produced local news coverage, bridge the professor-professional gap, use innovative techniques and technologies and learn from digital-age news experiments. Winning teams included some combination of students, researchers, media professionals, educators, developers and designers.

 

"We zeroed in on ideas and teams that we hope inspire innovation, collaboration and real world impact in academia and media," said Irving Washington, ONA operations director, who administered the selection process. "The potential for true community engagement in the winning projects was every bit as important as the tools and technology used to achieve it."

 

 

Other winning schools included: Arizona State University, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Florida International University, Georgia Collaborative, San Francisco State University, Texas State University, University of Illinois, University of Missouri, University of New Mexico, University of Oklahoma, and University of Wisconsin-Madison. Thirteen schools received honorable mention for their projects.

 

 

Competing for support

 

The winners, chosen in consultation with academic advisers, ONA leaders and funders, will be featured at upcoming ONA conferences and other news media education events.

 

The competition will culminate in at least one grand prize for the project most likely to change either local newsgathering, journalism education or both. A second overall prize will be given for the best project evaluation, regardless of the experiment’s outcome.

 

The fund plans to support between 20 to 25 projects over the next two years. The founding funders have committed $920,000 to launch the project, and additional funders are expected to join this year, to bring the total to well over $1 million.

 

Applications for the next round of funding will open later this year.

 

 

About 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, developers, photographers, educators, students and others who produce news for and support digital delivery systems. ONA also hosts the annual Online News Association conference and administers the Online Journalism Awards.

About San Diego State University: San Diego State University is a major public research institution offering bachelor's degrees in 89 areas, master's degrees in 78 areas and doctorates in 21 areas. The university provides transformative experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom, for its 35,000 students. Students participate in research, international experiences, sustainability and entrepreneurship initiatives, and a broad range of student life and leadership opportunities. The university’s rich campus life features opportunities for students to participate in, and engage with, the creative and performing arts, a Division I athletics program and the vibrant cultural life of the San Diego region. For more information, visit www.sdsu.edu.