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Professor launches “idea summit” for journalism innovations in minority communities

An effort conceived by Elon University associate professor Michelle Ferrier to reinvent journalism’s role in the nation's underserved communities, by seeding entrepreneurial media and technology ventures, will bring together this week several dozen leading media entrepreneurs and observers to an "idea summit" at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Associate professor Michelle Ferrier speaks to participants at a recent Journalism That Matters gathering in Seattle.

Up to $4,000 in entrepreneur stipends and training at an August workshop will be awarded after convening  up to four of the best ideas presented. "Journalism That Matters: Create or Die – Innovate, Incubate, Initiate," is a joint effort of Wayne State, the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri, Time Inc., Elon University and a host of other sponsors, including Google Inc. and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

"Participants from across the nation will be part of a pitch, plan, design, build collaboration that continues after this first summit," said Ferrier, who conceived the yearlong effort. "Our goal is to encourage journalism innovations and remake the media landscape so that it reflects diverse voices and diverse communities."

The event is the first of two summits – the second will be in summer 2011 in North Carolina hosted by Elon University. Throughout the intervening year, the host institutions and sponsors will work with entrepreneurs to research, conceive, test and start implementing new approaches to journalism from and for diverse communities.

"For half a century, the news has been funded by mass-market advertising," said Bill Densmore, a research fellow at the Reynolds Institute and JTM co-organizer. "The Internet and mobile technologies are making it possible to identify and serve large niche audiences. Our task is to figure out how to do so sustainably."

Journalism That Matters is a collaboration of journalists, technologists, academic researchers and citizens that has been meeting since 2001 in places like Washington, D.C., Silicon Valley, Seattle, Memphis, Milwaukee, Amherst, Mass., St. Petersburg, Fla., and Kalamazoo, Mich., to help define and chart the new media ecosystem as part of healthier communities. There are more than 1,000 alumni of JTM events worldwide.

JTM events typically develop new and unexpected cross-sector collaborations, broaden a community of practice among people who care about journalism innovation, learn from stories of successful projects and discover and engage financial/funding sources to seed new projects. The Detroit convening's specific focus is to nurture and develop journalism entrepreneurship especially for underserved communities and people of color.

Other sponsors of JTM-Detroit include the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the G.W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Media Giraffe Project at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

For more information, email jtm@journalismthatmatters.org or call 413-458-8001. More about Journalism That Matters can be found at: http://www.journalismthatmatters.org.

Michelle Ferrier,
6/8/2010 8:34 AM