NJ Mobile News Lab launches, plans to award $15,000 in innovation grants; apply now!

Deadline for submissions is Nov. 30, 2016

We all know that news and information is going mobile—and has been for some time now. Mobile traffic, advertising revenue, and user engagement are on a fast-track to supplant desktop as the king of content delivery platforms in the digital world.

But the world moves fast, and keeping up with changes in consumer behavior as it relates to mobile devices and technology is tough. That’s especially true for small, local news publishers who don’t have R&D departments or innovation teams.

That’s why the Center for Cooperative Media is pleased to announce the launch of the NJ Mobile News Lab. The new lab is being funded with support from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The NJ Mobile News Lab aims to bridge the innovation gap that exists between large and small publishers. Local media outlets have plenty to gain from putting an emphasis on mobile, and even more to lose if they fail to do so before it’s too late. That’s why it’s important for us to tackle this now — and, with our network of more than 150 local news and information partners in New Jersey, we’re perfectly positioned to do so.

And luckily, mobile innovation is the focus of several grant-funded projects across the country that we’ll be able to learn from, work collaboratively with and incorporate into our New Jersey lab. The best example is The Guardian’s Mobile Innovation Lab, as well the mobile journalism guide being built by Spirited Media’s Billy Penn. Both of those projects, like ours, are funded in part by the Knight Foundation.

We’re planning two key projects for the NJ Mobile News Lab’s first year. First, we’re going to spend $15,000 to fund mobile news experiments in New Jersey. And second, we’re going to actively curate news about mobile innovation, technology, platforms and case studies and share it regularly with the New Jersey news and information ecosystem (more on that toward the end of this post).

We’re kicking off the grant application process for that $15,000 today. The Center is now accepting applications for mobile news innovation grants; all proposals must be submitted by Nov. 30, 2016.

Once the submission period has ended, the Center will choose a list of semi-finalists from the applications we receive. Those applicants will be invited to a special ideation event with leaders in mobile news and innovation where they will receive detailed feedback on their ideas.

Following that ideation session, applicants will be given an additional one-week window to incorporate the feedback they received, revise their applications, and re-submit them for final review and selection by the Center.

We intend to announce the grant winners in early January.

GRANTEE REQUIREMENTS AND OBLIGATIONS:

  • Applicants must submit a proposal for an experiment involving mobile technology and news/information (no more than 1,000 words).
  • The experiment must be viable within the financial terms of the grant (up to $5,000); for example, if the applicant proposes a project that costs $20,000, that applicant must show they can finance the balance over and above the grant amount.
  • Applicants must be a registered business or sole proprietorship in the State of New Jersey.
  • Applicants must agree to regularly and publicly document the progress of their experiment over the course of 2017. Monthly progress reports and Medium posts will also be required, and applicants must submit a final report at the end of the grant period.
  • Grant money will be distributed in a lump sum to grantees upon acceptance of their application.

PREFERENCE WILL BE GIVEN TO PROPOSALS THAT:

  • Are aimed at actively engaging the audience of a news/information organization.
  • Will grow the business’s audience or revenue.
  • Aim to have a positive impact on the community.
  • Involve innovative and creative uses of existing technologies.
  • Involve partners or stakeholders of the Center for Cooperative Media.

CLICK HERE TO APPLY FOR A NJ MOBILE NEWS LAB INNOVATION GRANT

In addition to the innovation grants, the Center will curate and distribute a regular newsletter that will include updates on the mobile news experiments that win innovation grants, other mobile-related work of our partners and grantees, industry trends and best practices in mobile innovation. Click here to sign up for the newsletter.

Additionally, the NJ Mobile News Lab will host events, workshops, and ideation sessions on topics related to mobile news and information over the next year. Event schedules will be posted on the NJ Mobile News Lab page, as well as on the Center’s event calendar.

If you have any questions about the NJ Mobile News Lab or our innovation grants, please send them me at amditisj@mail.montclair.edu.


The NJ Mobile News Lab is made possible with funding from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the James S. and John L. Knight Foundation.

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