Tips for applying to the 2017 Journalism 360 Challenge

With the April 10 deadline approaching for the Journalism 360 challenge, here are some tips on how to submit winning ideas for experiments in immersive storytelling for journalism.

Each applicant has the chance to receive up to $35,000 for early-stage projects from a $250,000 fund that is supported by Knight Foundation and Google News Labs as part of a partnership with the Online News Association.

The fund and the Journalism 360 network were created to help journalists and technologists learn from each other on how to best use virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality for storytelling. While this new technology offers a tremendous opportunity for journalists to connect with people in new ways, it also poses many production and ethical questions. We are hoping the ideas will address some of those challenges through experiments with new tools, methods and other promising solutions.

As the challenge comes to a close, with applications accepted until April 10 at 11:59 p.m. ET, here are some helpful tips for submitting a strong application:

  • Write with intention and clarity. Many applicants feel obligated to provide long and descriptive answers when submitting grant requests. We encourage you, instead, to focus on explaining your idea as concisely as possible. Try to avoid jargon and be sure to stick to the 300-word limit for each answer.
  • Focus on process rather than content. This challenge focuses on supporting projects that experiment with new techniques and methodologies within immersive storytelling. We’re not as interested in the content as the ability of your project to illustrate lessons and practices that can be applied to the industry. Be sure to explain what sets your idea apart, why it’s innovative and how it will advance the field.
  • Identify a problem! Focus on a problem that you or your colleagues encountered and set out to develop a solution. These are small, seed grants that are ideal for experimenting with different approaches. Keep your idea focused and outline your methods clearly.
  • Have someone else review your application. Ask someone to review your application, which will help make sure you are clearly stating what you want to do. It is helpful to have someone who doesn’t have knowledge of the industry review your application.

Here are a few frequently asked questions we’ve been receiving from people like you who are interested in applying to the challenge:

  • Does the J360 Challenge accept international applications? Yes. The challenge is open to anyone, anywhere. The only requirement is that all applications be submitted in English. Should a project from outside the U.S. be selected as a winner, Knight Foundation will pair that organization or individual with a domestic fiscal sponsor or intermediary to facilitate the grant.
  • Is it possible to edit my application once I submit it? Unfortunately, no. Once you have submitted your application, it cannot be edited. However, during the open period, you can save your application as a draft and revisit the site to edit at any time before you finally submit it. Just be sure to submit your application before the challenge closes on April 10 at 11:59 p.m. ET. We will not accept late applications.
  • How much money is available for winners? This challenge offers winning ideas a share of $250,000. Each applicant can request up to $35,000 to test, refine and build out a project. The application requests that you provide the three largest expenses associated with your project. We will ask finalists to provide a detailed budget for review.
  • When will I be able to start my project? We will announce winners of the Journalism 360 Challenge in late June 2017. Projects will be able to begin building shortly thereafter.
  • May I submit multiple grant applications? Yes. There is no limit to how many applications you may submit. If you do decide to submit more than one, we encourage you to use each opportunity to address a new problem or provide a new solution.
  • What if my project will cost more than $35,000? If you anticipate that your project will cost more than the maximum grant award offered for this challenge, we encourage you to seek funding from additional sources to assure that your project can be completed as intended.
  • What will this grant money cover? We will pay for what it takes to design, develop and implement your project, including marketing and any associated travel. We do not fund overhead costs or administrative fees. For a list of things we will not fund, visit Knight’s FAQ page.

If you have a great idea, please apply here by April 10 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

To stay updated, be sure to check out the Knight Foundation blog and the Journalism 360 Medium blog, visit the FAQ page, and follow Knight, Google News Lab, the Online News Association and Journalism 360 on Twitter for updates. If you have specific questions, please contact the Journalism 360 Director, Laura Hertzfeld, at [email protected]

Good luck!

Nina Zenni is a consultant for Knight Foundation.