School wins $35,000 ONA grant to partner with Star


• Click HERE to read about the 10 Challenge Fund schools.


Prof. Michael McKisson shows students how to use a 360-degree camera attached to a smartphone.

One of only 10 universities selected, the UA School of Journalism has won a $35,000 grant from the Online News Association that will let students develop products to help the Arizona Daily Star better engage with its readers.

ONA announced the grants today in Washington, D.C., to kick off its annual national conference. The Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education supports universities to partner with news organizations and explore new ways of providing information to their communities.

 “It’s very exciting,” said Professor Michael McKisson, who helped secure the grant. “The product could be a newsletter, a chat bot or a new way to cover a group that wasn’t being served well.

“The idea is reaching people who the Star isn’t reaching by using user-centered design to create something that they want.”

The grant will help pay for an innovation studio at the school and provide money for the Star and its online site, “This is Tucson!” to work with students on developing the products.

The project ideas will come from a journalism class in fall 2018, News Product Development. Two students with the best ideas will each receive a $5,000 fellowship in the spring to work with Star editors and reporters on developing the product. The course also will be taught in fall 2019, with fellowships being offered again in the spring.

The school also can compete to win up to $100,000 in additional grand prizes for best project and evaluation, according to the ONA.

“We want it to be prestigious and have real value to the students,” McKisson said. “The goal is that they hopefully will launch the product that they create with the Star, and they will be in the real world working.”

The other nine universities receiving grants are Michigan State, Ohio, San Jose State, Georgia, Kansas, Miami, Mississippi, Nevada Reno and USC.

McKisson, who is in Washington this week, is one of 17 educators selected by the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism to champion a specific aspect of journalism education. He is focusing on how small journalism programs “can provide real-world experience for students and draw professional partners to the cause.”

He teaches classes in digital storytelling, news startups and mobile application development — working with students on virtual reality and 360-degree-video storytelling, drone videography and sensor journalism. McKisson also advises the school’s ONA student group and is a core member of News Hack Arizona, a weekend hackathon for journalists.

Published Date: 

10/05/2017 - 1:06pm

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