Saturday is the deadline for entering this year’s Student Innovation Competition, sponsored by the Reynolds Journalism Institute. Perhaps we should take this week to think about ways to increase audience engagement for a special class of extremely challenged news organizations — student media. If we can collaborate to come up with some interesting ideas, perhaps we could write up a plan we could submit by Saturday in hope of becoming a finalist and earning a grant to help implement the plan at the IMC.
Below is the official announcement of the contest. Before class Friday, see what inventive ideas you might have to offer to include in a proposal to the contest judges. Post your ideas and comment on others’ ideas in the Responses:Engagement category.
Reynolds Journalism Institute’s 2021 Student Innovation Competition
News organizations are struggling nationwide for many reasons. Whether it’s that subscriptions have dropped, trust is low or corporations are buying them and chopping them down to their bones – no one problem is the cause of current struggles, nor will one solution be the saving grace. One unfortunate result of the challenging environment: newsrooms are finding it harder to stay connected to their audiences and communities. We want to help news organizations find new methods of engaging with their readers and viewers. Research regularly shows that news organizations are critical to the vitality of the communities they serve and critical to all aspects of democracy. So, this year’s challenge is a two parter:
Research a local news organization and come up with a new way for them to engage with their community. The outlet can be any type – TV, radio, newspaper, non-profit, weekly, online only, monthly, etc. And your engagement idea can be anything! Be creative and think outside the usual avenues for that outlet, brainstorm with them to see what they’d be interested in trying with you.
Create a plan on how you would work with them to implement your idea over a three-month period. You will need to detail the necessary steps, milestones and how you plan to measure success at the end of your three months. Submit this idea below by October 31, 2020.
If you need help finding a news organization to pair with please email Director of Innovation, Kat Duncan Duncank@rjionline.org before September 10th and she will help you reach out to possible partners.
Our selection committee will pick finalists from the submissions based on the strength of planning, potential for success and creative out of the box thinking. Those ideas will then move to the next phase.
If selected as a finalist, you will have 3 months to implement your idea with the news outlet before creating a google presentation detailing the idea, the implementation and results. Your team will present on Zoom in front of a panel of judges and the public on February 26th, 2021.
First place: $10,000
Second place: $2,500
Third place: $1,000
Part 1 ideas must be submitted through the form below by October 31, 2020 to be considered. Late ideas will not be considered, no matter how amazing they are.
If your team is chosen as a finalist you will be notified by November 13, 2020 giving you ample time to implement your idea before presenting.
- A team can be an individual or up to 4 people.
- At least one person on each team must be a journalism or communication student.
- Presentations must be in English.
- The competition is open to all U.S. undergraduate and graduate college students. All team members will need to verify their enrollment status if chosen as a finalist.
- If you are here on a student visa, please note that your winnings will probably have to be distributed as a scholarship. We will require you to plan ahead and make the necessary arrangements with your university or college for us to transfer your potential winnings.
JUDGING CRITERIA & TIMELINE
Projects will be judged on four main criteria:
- Idea: Did the team look at the history, audience and abilities of the news organization they partnered with to create a new, innovative idea to help them connect with their community?
- Implementation: Was the pilot implementation successfully launched? What was learned from the results? What would next steps be for the idea?
- Engagement: Did the project actually help the news organization engage with people in their community and how well?
- Reach: Is this idea something that could be implemented at other news organizations and be successful in aiding them too?
This year’s judges