Collaborative reporting grants announced for Oklahoma City-area media organizations

Thanks to support from Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation, up to five collaborative projects will be funded

Stefanie Murray
Nov 5 · 8 min read

One of the things the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University has found through its work studying collaborative journalism is that small, one-time collaborative reporting projects are essential to the overall growth and development of healthy news ecosystems.

Not only do collaborative reporting projects generally produce good journalism that otherwise wouldn’t have happened, they also build relationships, trust and muscle memory—and they usually lead to even better, deeper, longer-term partnerships.

Through the Peer Learning + Collaboration Fund, Center staff have organized workshops in select U.S. cities to discuss the concept of healthy, connected news ecosystems and the vital role that collaboration plays in them.

We’ve also encouraged local funders in those cities to make small pots of grant funding available after the workshops to incentivize news organizations to work together.

Local partners in our first Peer Fund cities, Cleveland and Akron, built a coalition and a pot of $100,000 in funding to support local collaborative projects.

Our second Peer Fund city, Oklahoma City, will now get a similar opportunity: Today I’m thrilled to announce that grant funding to support five collaborative reporting projects is now available for Oklahoma City media organizations through the Center for Cooperative Media.

Through our partnership with Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation and Inasmuch Foundation, the Center will award five projects funding of up to $9,400 each. We announced the funding today at our Peer Fund workshop in Oklahoma City.

Our goal is to incentivize journalists in Oklahoma City to leave the Peer Fund event and continue conversations about collaborations they could initiate together. We intend to support meaningful and impactful collaborations among Oklahoma City news organizations, which we believe will help the development of a healthy, connected news ecosystem there.

We want potential grantees to think deeply about how they could tackle topics of high interest to their community more efficiently and effectively through partnership and community engagement.

Our application process opens today, Nov. 5, and the deadline for applications closes at 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 20. Award winners will be notified on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, and funding will be disbursed in February. Projects must be complete by June 30, 2020.

Each proposed project must identify one person to serve as the main point of contact (i.e. the project manager) for the project. The grant application has two parts: the first part requires information about the project manager, and the second part requires information about the project itself.

All applications will be judged based on scoring from a set of seven objective criteria and four subjective criteria.

The objective criteria are weighted to favor projects that are new ideas bringing together new groups of collaborators, those that involve multiple forms of media, those that intend to serve an underserved local community, and applicants that identify as having a high financial need.

The subjective criteria consider how the proposed project could make an impact in Oklahoma City for the benefit of residents; how the project is improved by a collaborative effort; how community is involved in the effort; and the overall strength of the application.

The subjective criteria will be judged by an outside panel of five judges, none of whom have ties to Oklahoma City. Our judges include:

  • Jon Funabiki, who is a professor in the Department of Journalism at San Francisco State University and executive director of Renaissance Journalism, which sponsors local and national social justice journalism initiatives.
  • Sumi Aggarwal, who is Director of Collaborations at Reveal/The Center for Investigative Reporting. She previously worked as a producer for CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” and Google, where she led executive communications for the search and maps teams, as well as a number of local TV stations and newspapers in California and Oregon.
  • Heather Bryant, who is founder of Project Facet, as well as a journalist and software engineer. She previously was digital services editor at KTOO Public Media in Juneau, Alaska, and a 2016–2017 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford.
  • Andre Natta, who is editor for the Resolve Philadelphia reporting collaborative’s Broke in Philly project. Before that he was with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and was a 2018 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford.
  • Tara Conley, who is an assistant professor in the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. She is the founder of Hashtag Feminism, a project to locate and archive feminist discourse by way of tracking Twitter hashtags on the web. In 2015, she produced the documentary Brackish about life in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.

Click here or click on the button below to begin the application process, and make sure to check the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section below if you need clarification on anything related to the application and grantmaking process.

Frequently asked questions

The following list of FAQs should answer nearly every question you may have about the grants for Oklahoma City-area collaborative reporting projects through the Peer Learning + Collaboration Fund, but if we didn’t anticipate your question, email us at peerfund@collaborativejournalism.org.

What if we need more than $9,400 for our project?

It’s very likely that your project will cost more in total than this grant can cover. We encourage you to have open, honest conversations with your collaborators about what each partner can contribute in-kind. (Be sure to think about equity when you are considering how to distribute the grant funding, too.) You could also seek out additional outside funding to support your work. If your calculation puts you just above $9,400, you are welcome to detail that in the budget you’ll be asked to upload with your application, but please note that we can currently only guarantee up to $9,400 for each grantee.

Are there limitations on what the grant funding may be used for?

Yes, there are some limitations, but not many. The funding must be used to directly support execution of the proposed collaborative reporting project. That can include covering costs related to staffing, acquisition of data, software, printing or other creation of physical artifacts, events, travel or a variety of other similar direct costs. The funding can not be used for lobbying efforts, to directly influence legislation, to influence the outcome of a public election or to carry on a voter registration drive. If you have any more questions about this, the Center’s staff is happy to discuss your concerns.

How quickly will we get the funding if we are awarded a grant?

We intend to notify our grant winners on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. At that time you’ll be asked to supply additional documentation, including a W-9 for the organization(s) that will receive the funding. After your paperwork is complete, your funding should arrive within 30 days via a paper check.

Can you disburse a grant to multiple news organizations, or will only one news organization be expected to receive and then further distribute the money?

We can divide up and disburse the grant funding to multiple news organizations per project, if that makes things easier for you. Please note that on the application, under the questions “Is there anything else you want us to know about your project?”

Do I have to be a nonprofit to receive the grant funding?

No, you do not.

Can we put in applications for multiple projects?

A news organization may be named as a collaborator on multiple grant applications, but people from the same news organization may not be named as the project manager on multiple grant applications. This is to ensure fairness and that a wide variety of news organizations are engaged in these experimental collaborative reporting projects.

Can we have multiple project managers?

You are welcome to have as many project managers in reality as you like, but your project must name one individual as the project manager for the sake of the grant process. Note that research by the Center has found that the most successful collaborations employ one sole project manager (a third party is best, but that’s not often feasible for temporary, smaller projects such as what we’re aiming to fund here).

What if our project won’t be complete by June 30, 2020?

Your project must at least begin to be publicly published, broadcast, streamed or otherwise disseminated by June 30, 2020.

What happens if one of our partners backs out?

This is an unfortunate reality that many collaborative projects struggle with. If you are awarded funding and a partner later backs out, the Center will work with you to finding new partners. If you are unable to secure new partners and the project becomes infeasible, you will be asked to return the grant money and the Center will award it to another applicant.

Can you help us formulate our project?

Yes! The Center will offer coaching sessions of 30 minutes each per project between Nov. 6 and Dec. 13. To request one, email peerfund@collaborativejournalism.org. We are also offering a series of worksheets and examples from another collaborative reporting project at collaborativejournalism.org/OKCworkshop. (Note that using the Center’s coaching services doesn’t count toward your scores for the grant application and won’t influence the final decisions.)

Is there anyone who could help us execute our project if we need extra help?

Yes. The Center can provide limited support and coaching for grant winners as needed. We won’t be able to be on the ground and manage your project, but we can certainly support you in many other ways, including coaching on project management, documentation and execution. Send an email to peerfund@centerforcooperativemedia.org.

👋 Want to learn more about collaborative journalism?

You can subscribe to our collaborative journalism newsletter for more updates and information. And of course, we invite you to visit collaborativejournalism.org to learn more about the topic of collaborative journalism — including our growing database of database of collaborative journalism projects, which is currently being updated.

Stefanie Murray is director of the Center for Cooperative Media. Contact her at murrayst@montclair.edu.

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. The Center is supported with funding from Montclair State University, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, the New Jersey Local News Lab (a partnership of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Community Foundation of New Jersey), and the Abrams Foundation. For more information, visit CenterforCooperativeMedia.org.

Center for Cooperative Media

An initiative of the School of Communication at Montclair State University

Thanks to Heather Bryant

Stefanie Murray

Written by

Director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University.

Center for Cooperative Media

An initiative of the School of Communication at Montclair State University

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