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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Grassroots Journalism Update: J-Lab, Knight Foundation Funding Startups

Jan Schaffer's J-Lab at the University of Maryland has begun "New Voices," a grants program funded by the John L. and James S. Knight Foundation and designed to help startup grassroots journalism initiatives.

Here's how J-Lab describes New Voices:

"Over the next two years, the 'New Voices' project will help fund the start-up of 20 micro-local, news projects; support them with an educational Web site, in collaboration with the Poynter Institute’s News University; and help foster their sustainability through small second-year grants.
"Under the grant, J-Lab, a center of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, will call for proposals from nonprofit and education institutions with new ideas for distributing news and information. A national Advisory Board will award seed grants of $12,000 to $17,000 to help create new types of self-sustaining community media projects.
"The Web site will provide training in online content creation, production and revenue generation and help spread core journalism values to the new efforts.

Schaffer, who is executive director of the J-Lab, approaches the new initiative as a way of recognizing and encouraging growth in new journalism projects that help citizens keep "mainstream journalists and public officials honest' and aid 'reporting community news that falls below the radar of daily news outlets."

Along with the doings in Greensboro, The Pegasus News project in Dallas and Dan Gillmor's new grassroots journalism endeavor, the J-Lab grant program should add significant momentum to the creation of new media.