Journalism 360 Challenge opens for submissions on immersive storytelling

In the year since Knight Foundation’s report at SXSW urged journalists to explore immersive storytelling, we’ve seen an explosion in creativity and a growing need for the field to develop best practices and techniques.

That’s why we joined with Google News Lab and the Online News Association to launch the Journalism 360 Challenge, an open call for ideas from everyone from gamers to news organizations willing to experiment and share what they’re learning about mixed reality, virtual reality, augmented reality and 360-degree video.

Winning ideas will receive up to $35,000 for early-stage projects that best answer the question: How might we experiment with immersive storytelling to advance the field of journalism?

Applications can be submitted March 8 – April 10, 2017.

We are open to your ideas that might include everything from new production techniques to storytelling tools. Or perhaps they might include explorations of the use of narrative or recommendations on how to address the important ethical questions for journalists that immersive storytelling can pose.

The $250,000 challenge is the latest effort of the Journalism 360 project, which we began with Google News Labs and the Online News Association last fall, to create and support an international network of journalists who want to create and spread best practices in the use of immersive storytelling.

Journalism 360 offers a mix of workshops, live events and regular updates from experts that you can sign up for here.  

While immersive storytelling offers journalists new opportunities to engage more deeply with members of the audience, it also requires new approaches and raises important questions that can be answered when people passionate about the future of journalism want to exchange ideas and learn from each other.

Here’s what you need to know about the challenge: 

  • We’re interested in ideas from anyone across the world, including journalists, technologists, entrepreneurs, gamers, software developers and academics, to news organizations, startups, established businesses, nonprofits and individuals. 
  • To submit your idea, please visit to provide the following information and answer these questions: 
    • Project title. 
    • Describe your project. 
    • How will your project advance the field of journalism?
    • Who is your intended audience and how will they be impacted? 
    • What progress, if any, have you made on this project? 
    • What are the obstacles to implementing your idea and how will you address them? 
    • How much do you think your project will cost and what are the major expenses? 
    • Organization name (if applicable). 
    • Location (City, State). 
  • The challenge closes for submissions on Monday, April 10, at 11:59 p.m. ET. 
  • After the challenge closes, we will review all applications and will notify applicants if they have been selected as a finalist.

The main stages of the challenge are: 

  • Entries: March 8 – April 10. Apply here.  
  • Review Phase: April 10 – mid-June. During this time, staff from Knight Foundation, the Online News Association and the Google News Lab and a select group of thought leaders  from a variety of fields to review the applications, select finalists and determine winners. 
  • Winners: We will interview finalists and announce the winners some time at the end of June 2017. 

In the coming weeks, the Online News Association and Google News Lab will have several in-person and virtual information sessions where you can discuss the topic and ask questions. Keep an eye out for more details here, but this is what we have planned: 

Thursday, March 9

Sunday, March 12

Monday, March 27

  • NewseumVRMeets: Health and Medicine, Washington, D.C. (RSVP here

Sunday, April 2

  • BinderCon, Los Angeles (Tickets available here)

Please visit this link to apply. For more information, visit the FAQ page, the Knight Foundation blog, follow #j360 on Twitter, and sign up here for Knight Foundation updates. 

Jennifer Preston is vice president of journalism for Knight Foundation and Nina Zenni is project coordinator for the Journalism 360 Challenge.