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Call for Proposals: Citizens Media Ventures

College Park, MD – New Voices, a pioneering program to seed innovative citizen media ventures around the country, today issued a call for its first round of grant proposals.

Eligibility guidelines and application forms can be found at the New Voices Web site,, also launched today. Project proposals are due March 17, 2005.

New Voices will help fund the start-up of 20 hyperlocal news ventures over the next two years and support them with an educational Web site. Nonprofit and educational institutions are eligible to apply. Each project may receive as much as $17,000 in grants.

New Voices is funded with a $1 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and administered by J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, part of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.

J-Lab is seeking new ideas for distributing news and information to hyperlocal geographic communities or communities of interest. In particular, it is looking for news ventures that offer the promise of being self-sustaining. A national Advisory Board will award the grants.

The educational Web site,, will provide training in online content creation, production and revenue generation and help spread core journalism values to the new efforts. It will be launched in early spring.

“New Voices seeks to create innovative opportunities for citizens to get informed and inform others about micro-news that falls under the radar of traditional news organizations,” said Jan Schaffer, J-Lab director. “In the process of helping to launch these news ventures, we will explore whether they can seed participation in community issues, instill a sense of news entrepreneurship and train a new, more diverse generation of journalists in new ways of doing the news.”

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities.

J-Lab helps news organizations use new media technologies to create fresh ways for people to participate in public life and also administers the Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism.

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