Online News Association awards Quinnipiac journalism faculty $35,000 microgrant

August 22, 2018

Students work on laptops in front of television screens

The Online News Association recently awarded professors in the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University a $35,000 microgrant to launch a reporting and research project that will help an online New Haven newsroom evaluate various community engagement tools.

Called “Three Billboards (+ Three Listening Posts) Inside Hamden, Connecticut,” the project was one of 10 selected for funding in the fourth round of the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education   

The team of researchers, led by Amy Walker, assistant professor of journalism at Quinnipiac, will assess whether billboards, text message exchanges and audio recording posts can help deepen the New Haven Independent’s reporting and its connection to readers. The team also will evaluate whether the community values this sort of engagement with journalists.

Students will play active roles, serving as researchers, reporters, writers, editors and multimedia producers. This fall, the journalism students will begin meeting with community groups, designing surveys and installing engagement tools, including listening posts.

“We’re really excited about this opportunity,” Walker said. “This project will give our students a more realistic sense of how to cover a beat, how to build dozens of long-term sources and how to utilize innovative reporting and production techniques. Often, there is not enough time to try them in a traditional class.”

School of Communications

BA in Journalism

The researchers also will study whether the use of listening posts, text message exchanges and billboards enhance the exchange of information and break down barriers between journalists and the public.

“These approaches may help us find new sources, including those who typically don’t want to speak with a reporter about a sensitive topic,” Walker said.

New Haven Independent Editor Paul Bass said, “We're excited to tap into some of the innovative work Professor Walker is doing at Quinnipiac.”

In addition to Walker and the students, the research team also includes Molly Yanity, assistant professor of journalism, Terry Bloom, associate dean of the School of Communications, Courtney Marchese, assistant professor of interactive media and design, and Burgess Brown, Listening Post Collective community manager.

The projects receiving funding were announced at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) 2018 Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Challenge Fund was created in 2014 to encourage journalism programs to partner with local news organizations and experiment with new ways of providing news and information. In total, 43 collaborative projects have received more than $1.5 million of support through the fund.

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