Thursday, February 28, 2008

Knight Foundation and Ashoka create fellowships for journalism entrepreneurs

Journalism needs fresh ideas, but the daily grind can keep most from having any time to brainstorm. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, which funds social entrepreneurs, have partnered to create 30 Ashoka Journalism Fellows, who will use three-year stipends to find new ideas for journalism.

Each fellow will work to create new kinds of news outlets, new ways of reporting, and other models that can be shared with the entire journalism community and copied. Fellows will also become lifetime members of Ashoka, which boasts more than 2,000 others working in field such as learning/youth development, the environment, health, human rights, economic development and civic engagement.

“Journalism must confront new media forms and technologies, uneven degrees of professionalism, threats to freedom of the press, and rapidly changing economics,” Diana Wells, president of Ashoka, said in a press release. “At this moment, journalism needs social entrepreneurs who turn challenges into opportunities. This partnership will help us identify new models for journalism that create transformative social impact.”

The partnership is funded by a $3 million, three-year grant, and it looks to add to the work Ashoka has done over the past 26 years. Recently, Ashoka fellows have created Magazine Viração, written by young people for young people, while in Indonesia, they helped create a public radio news agency.

“After five years, an astonishing 97 percent of Ashoka’s social entrepreneurs are still working on the projects they have created. Nine out of 10 of their ideas have been copied by others and half of them have changed public policy,” said Eric Newton, vice president of journalism programs at Knight Foundation. “We need to apply that kind of success record to the field of journalism.”

The first fellows will be chosen by Aug. 31. (Read more)

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