The News Integrity Initiative, established by the Foundation for the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism with grants from partners including Facebook, Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, Ford Foundation, Knight Foundation and more, announced on 1 November that it had paused its submissions process in order to catch up with the existing inquiries about funding.
Launched in April, the Initiative started as a $14 million (£10.6m) fund to support and connect projects aiming to foster engaged communities, create more inclusive media, and study media manipulation.
It has already funded several projects including News Co/Lab at Arizona State University, The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal Labs, and the Center for Media Engagement, formerly known as the Engaging News Project.
On 2 November, it announced additional funding totalling $2.5 million (£1.5m) to the European Journalism Centre for the Engaged Journalism Accelerator, and to Internews for the creation of the Global Media Solutions Coalition.
Journalism.co.uk caught up with Molly de Aguiar, managing director of the News Integrity Initiative, at the News Impact Academy in Manchester on 3 November, to find out more about the overall aims of the project.
"We're not going to be doing grant-making for the entire length of the project," she explained.
"At some point, we're going to run out of money and I am making some conscious decisions about trying to get a lot of grant money out the door early to be able to give projects the longest possible runway for the duration of the News Integrity Initiative."
The Initiative plans to award grants early to allow projects to flourish. Those who wish to apply for funding when the submissions are reopened need to submit an inquiry detailing their idea – if it is of interest to the News Integrity Initiative, they will be contacted to submit a full application.
The work the Initiative is undertaking and supporting has three main aims:
• Working to build trust between the newsrooms and the public.
"What we mean by that is primarily some in person community engagement work to help newsrooms learn to be more responsive to what the community says it wants and needs, but also helping the community understand the newsrooms' practices and processes," said de Aguiar.
• Promote diversity and more representative journalism coverage of communities.
"We are trying to be mindful of journalism that is much more reflective of all people. We are doing some work around how to have respectful and inclusive public conversations and how journalists can be the facilitators of that, bring context and help increase understanding, particularly among groups where there is a lot of polarisation."
• Understanding the roots of media manipulation
"We're doing some work around how to help newsrooms spot newer forms of disinformation and stay out ahead of it, so that they are not themselves being manipulated by the disinformation and giving more oxygen to it."
In addition to grant-making, the News Integrity Initiative also plans to comprehensively document the work of its grantees to share the lessons they will learn along the way with others who might be embarking on similar projects and facing common challenges, building peer to peer support.
"We're hoping to provide a lot of value beyond grant dollars that can have a broad geographic reach," de Aguiar told Journalism.co.uk.
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