J-Lab History

J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism launched in 2002 to help journalists and citizens use digital technologies to develop new ways for people to participate in public life through the media.

It quickly became one of the first players in the news innovations space, drawing on more than a decade of pioneering civic journalism work, led by J-Lab founder Jan Schaffer. As the director of the Pew Center for Civic Journalism, she seeded 120 pilot projects in newsrooms around the country that helped to create and refine better ways of reporting the news to re-engage people in public life.

J-Lab was initially based at the University of Maryland's Merrill College of Journalism. In 2008, it became a center of American University's School of Communications with a large scope of work funded by a $2.4 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

J-Lab is a proven funder and supporter of new ideas that have worked.  We have amassed a tremendous amount of data and lessons learned from monitoring and incentivizing change.  Our efforts influence news entrepreneurs, content creators, traditional news organizations and communicators of all types.