Thursday, May 15, 2008

J-Lab New Voices grants include many rural ideas

Several projects with clear or potential impact on rural areas are winners in the fourth annual round of New Voices grants from J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which was the major initial funder of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues. Winners get $12,000 in the first year and $5,000 in matching support in the second year.

From the press release, here are selected project:
  • Miami-Whitewater Valley Public Media Project. Partnering higher learning with public and commercial media, this project will create a regional news service for Southwest Ohio and East Central Indiana. Citizen journalists and students at Miami University and Earlham College will produce stories for an interactive Web site and content will be shared with local mainstream media. Pilot partners include WMUB and WECI public radio, the Cincinnati Business Journal, Cox Ohio newspapers in Dayton, Hamilton, Oxford and Middletown, and Gannett’s Palladium-Item in Richmond, Indiana. They seek to create a new model for covering regional news.
  • The Kentucky Citizen Media Project: The Lexington Commons. A University of Kentucky partnership will build a digital neighborhood newspaper. While it will highlight Lexington news, the leaders also hope to build a sense of community across lines of race, ethnicity and income. The university’s Department of Community and Leadership Development is spearheading the project in partnership with the University’s Cooperative Extension Service, which will help recruit citizen reporters, and the Department of Agricultural Communications, which will launch and maintain the project’s Web site.
  • Grass Roots: Digital Journalism in the Nation’s Birthplace of Aviation. Journalism professors at Kent State will mentor student reporters and general aviators to cover Ohio’s 166 public airports, 772 private airfields and 18,000 pilots. Reporters will take photos, audio and video to go on a central Web site. The project also plans to produce mini-documentaries and a book. Content will be available to the Akron Beacon-Journal’s, local public television stations and the university’s NPR affiliate.
  • Cool State Online. Journalism students and faculty at California State University-Los Angeles will partner with community groups to launch “micro-bureaus” to cover the San Gabriel Valley’s largely Asian and Latino community. Computer science grad students will help build a news management system for the project.
  • The Appalachian Independent. A civic group will create a bi-weekly online newspaper community for the rural community around Frostburg, Md., modeled on the National League of Cities’ Inclusive Community Program. Frostburg State University and Allegany College of Maryland students and faculty will participate.
  • Immigration: The View from Here. KBUT-FM community radio in Crested Butte, Colorado, will explore the local impact of immigration, which has tripled in the last decade in rural Gunnison Valley. The station will train citizen journalists and produce stories for its daily news show and 30-minute specials. All content will be in English, with Spanish translations posted online. The station will share MP3 files of the features with all the state’s community radio stations.
  • Voices of Rural Alaska. Koahnic Broadcast Corp. will train people in remote Alaskan native villages to record interviews, first-person diaries and reports on issues that affect their daily lives. One-to-three minute segments will be broadcast monthly on KNBA-FM and National Native News. They will also be available online as podcasts and offered to the Alaska Public Radio network.

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