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Backing from the Ford Foundation enhances WVU journalism project

on Fri, 07/17/2009 - 08:00

The world-renowned Ford Foundation is lending its support to the WVU Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism’s award-winning multimedia web project, West Virginia Uncovered: Multimedia Journalism from the Mountains.

The Ford Foundation recently awarded the School of Journalism a $100,000 grant to help rural newspapers adapt to the demands and opportunities of the digital age.

Associate Dean and Professor John Temple and a small group of students launched the West Virginia Uncovered project in fall 2008. Students and faculty have traveled throughout the state working with newspaper staff to create multimedia content for their Web sites.

During the spring 2009 semester, team members also conducted training sessions for newspaper reporters and staff members on producing and delivering their own multimedia content.

To date, participating newspapers include the Hampshire Review, the Parsons Advocate, the Nicholas Chronicle and the Charleston Daily Mail.
Temple plans to expand the project in fall 2009 to help newspapers recruit citizen journalists and create interactive features for their websites.

Funds from the Ford Foundation grant will be used to support web development, project staff, travel and research during the upcoming year and to lay the groundwork for expanding the project beyond West Virginia.

“This grant will take our project to a new level,” Temple said.
“We’re already doing great work with newspapers, but this will help us measure the impact of what we’re doing and begin to recruit other universities and colleges to do similar projects. In addition, we’ll hire a web developer to work with community newspapers to help improve their Web sites.”

In addition to the Ford Foundation grant, the project received a two-year, $85,000 grant from the McCormick Foundation and a $10,700 WVU Grant for Public Service in 2008.

In 2009, the West Virginia Uncovered project was also awarded an $85,000 grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

The Ford Foundation was chartered in 1936 by Edsel Ford. Founded to advance human welfare, it is a resource for innovative people and institutions around the world. The Ford Foundation receives some 40,000 proposals a year, however, it only awards 2,000 grants.

The project Web site is available at http://WVuncovered.wvu.edu/.

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