New Philadelphia Enterprise Reporting Fund Offers Ten $5,000 Awards For Collaborative News Projects

July 22, 2010

Washington, D.C. - Journalists in the Greater Philadelphia region may soon be able to ramp up the level of in-depth, professional reporting with the help of a new experimental journalism fund to nurture public affairs stories and demonstrate the possibilities for collaborative newsgathering and distribution.

The Philadelphia Enterprise Reporting Fund will award ten $5,000 reporting project awards under a pilot program funded by the William Penn Foundation and administered by J-Lab, a center of American University’s School of Communication. The fund will accept proposals on its website - www.EnterpriseReportingFund.org - until the deadline, Sept. 16.

The aim of the initiative is to help get enterprise projects off the ground and explore collaboration opportunities among the region’s growing number of news creators and distributors. The fund is an outgrowth of recommendations published in an April J-Lab report. The research documented the rise of numerous online news sites throughout the Philadelphia area and an interest in collaboration among many of those efforts.

“The Philadelphia region is awash in journalism sites that are producing quality journalism, but often in narrow silos,” said J-Lab director Jan Schaffer. “The Enterprise Reporting Fund is an experiment to try to network those silos in ways that will amplify this journalism to larger audiences while still validating the fiercely independent mindsets of the city’s new media makers.”

“This experimental pilot is intended to demonstrate the power and potential for increased civic accountability when strong, professional public affairs news operations are given incentives and resources to work together in the public interest,” said Shawn McCaney, program officer with the Foundation.

To be eligible, projects must foster an open exchange of journalistically sound information.  Eligible projects will include enterprise reporting that involves investigative or explanatory journalism, watchdog or accountability journalism or computer-assisted reporting.  The reporting must enhance the public’s understanding of important city or regional issues, engage in solutions around public affairs problems and/or reveal new information. Projects must launch within six months of funding.

Funding may be used for such things as hiring freelance reporters, editing, purchasing databases, data analysis, design of searchable databases, creation of news games or exercises, development of mobile applications, or to meet other needs to make the story happen.

A small Advisory Board of individuals with diverse backgrounds and broad knowledge of local and regional public affairs will review the applications, meet in person and recommend a list of awardees.

For details and eligibility guidelines, visit: http://www.EnterpriseReportingFund.org.

About William Penn Foundation
The mission of the William Penn Foundation is to improve the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that foster rich cultural expression, strengthen children’s futures, and deepen connections to nature and community. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance a vital, just, and caring community.

About J-Lab
J-Lab helps news organizations and citizens use digital technologies to develop new ways for people to participate in public life. It also administers the Knight Citizen News Network (www.kcnn.org and www.J-Learning.org), the New Voices community media grant program (www.j-newvoices.org), the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism (www.j-lab.org), and the McCormick New Media Women Entrepreneurs initiative (www.newmediawomen.org).