The Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service (NNS), in partnership with Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University, has won a $35,000 micro-grant to create a Milwaukee Poverty Database. It is one of 11 projects from 13 U.S. universities to win grants intended to seed collaborative news experiments in their communities, the Online News Association (ONA) announced.
The NNS project will test whether creating a searchable, sortable database related to poverty issues can stimulate reporting and community action that would drive progress and ultimately improve lives in Milwaukee’s central city. The data will be accessed through NNS and be available to the public on any device capable of Internet access.
“This grant will allow NNS to create a single source for local poverty data that will be valuable for journalists, nonprofit organizations, researchers and students,” said Sharon McGowan, editor-in-chief of NNS, an objective, professional source of reporting on central city neighborhoods in Milwaukee. “The database will make it easy to track changes year to year on key metrics, creating the ability to measure progress or the lack of progress,” McGowan added.
Members of the team submitting the grant include McGowan; Tony Shields, executive director, United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee; and Matt Richardson, CEO/Visioneer, SmartWave Consulting and founder of the Milwaukee Data Initiative. Diederich College of Communication team members included Lori Bergen, dean; John Pauly, chair of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies; and James Brust, director of the Wakerly Media Lab for Innovation & Creativity.
The competitive Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education was created in 2014 to encourage journalism programs to experiment with new ways of providing news and information. This year’s winning projects cover issues ranging from poverty to juvenile justice, and food truck lines to logging.
The fund was created by a collaborative that includes the Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Rita Allen Foundation, and is managed by ONA, the world’s largest membership group of digital journalists.
The 53 entries competing for $385,000 for the 2015-16 academic year were judged on their ability to create collaborative, student-produced local news coverage, bridge the professor-professional gap, use innovative techniques and technologies and learn from digital-age news experiments. Winning teams included some combination of students, researchers, media professionals, educators, developers and designers.
“This year’s winners were finely focused on partnerships and impact, using creative but realistic tools and ideas that will move local journalism forward in their communities, “ said Irving Washington, ONA Deputy Director, who administered the selection process.