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Knight-VICE Innovators Fund Announces Support For First Four Projects

  • By Newmark J-School Staff
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An interactive mapping system to document global waste routes, an online tool for crowd-gathering sources, a platform to connect journalists in isolated areas, and a mobile service that distributes news in Africa are the first four projects chosen for grants from the Knight-VICE Innovators Fund.

The result of a collaboration announced in December 2014 among VICE Media, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the $500,000 fund gives financial backing to journalists from around the world working on innovative projects that have the potential to transform the way people relate to news.

The four winners were selected from a pool of more than 180 applicants for their vision, ingenuity and grasp of the shifting modes of storytelling in today’s digital culture. They are Guia Baggi from Italy, David Mancini from Italy, Farahnaz Mohammed from Chicago, and Tinashe Mushakavanhu from Zimbabwe.

Beginning this winter, the Knight-VICE innovators will come to New York to study at CUNY and develop their projects. They will have full access to classes, as well as the CUNY J-School’s expert faculty. They will also work from VICE’s production facilities in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, partnering with VICE’s award-winning producers and journalists to further develop their work. The Innovators Fund will provide a stipend to cover expenses.

About the winning projects:

* Guia Baggi’s project will focus on interactive mapping and documenting of global waste routes, investigating how waste moves from developed to developing countries and its impact. Baggi is the co-founder of the Investigative Reporting Project Italy and received a master’s in journalism, media and globalization from the Erasmus Mundus Scholarships program, which is funded by the European Union.

* David Mancini will develop a global, online tool for crowd-gathering sources through social networks to help journalists interview and reach the right people in the right places. He is the founder and president of VoxPop and holds a master’s degree in journalism, media and globalization from Swansea University.

* Farahnaz Mohammed aims to create a platform to connect journalists who work in isolated areas. Originally from Jamaica, Mohammed holds a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University and a Master of Arts in Spanish and English literature from the University of Edinburgh.

* Tinashe Mushakavanhu’s project, YoungNation, is a mobile service that distributes news to audiences in Africa. The service is designed specifically to meet the bandwidth and communication capabilities of the majority of African nations. He received a first-class honors degree in English literature from Midlands State University and was the first African to receive a master’s degree in creative writing from Trinity College in Wales.

“We are excited to welcome these highly innovative journalists into our school’s community and eager to help them develop their projects using all of the faculty and student resources at our disposal,” said Sarah Bartlett, dean of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

“The winners have demonstrated their commitment to driving innovation in journalism with projects that are already underway,” said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism. “This opportunity will help them take their work to the next level.”

“Status quo pundits from the mainstream media who talk about ‘the end’ of journalism would do well to meet the young journalists like these four who are changing the game, in real time and for the better,” said Shane Smith, VICE Media co-founder and CEO. “News is going through a massive evolutionary phase and finding and supporting the right talent, rather than fearing change, is going to be the key to success going forward. These four winners exemplify what the Knight-VICE Innovators fund is all about. We’re proud to support them and the ever growing platform of journalism in the digital age.”

Knight and VICE invested $250,000 each in the Knight-VICE Innovators Fund. Finalists were determined by a select group of judges from CUNY, Knight and VICE.

About VICE Media

VICE is the world’s preeminent youth media company and content creation studio. Launched in 1994, VICE now operates in over 30 countries and distributes its programming to hundreds of millions of viewers each month across digital, linear, mobile, film and socials. VICE includes an international network of digital channels; a television and feature film production studio; a magazine; a record label; an in-house creative services agency; and a book-publishing division.

VICE’s award-winning programming has been recognized by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Peabody Awards, Sundance Film Festival, PEN Center, Cannes Lions, Frontline Club, Knight Foundation, American Society of Magazine Editors, LA Press Club, and Webby Awards, among others.

About the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism offers multimedia-focused Master of Arts degrees in journalism and entrepreneurial journalism in the heart of the nation’s media capital. It also offers a one-semester Advanced Certificate in Entrepreneurial Journalism and Summer Intensive Digital Journalism workshop series focused on emerging skill sets.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org