YSU NewsOutlet awarded $300K from Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation logo.The NewsOutlet at Youngstown State University has won a $300,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to help produce investigative stories about gas and oil well drilling in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

It is the third consecutive year that the NewsOutlet has won a grant from the prestigious Knight Foundation. The Foundation awarded $62,000 in 2011 and $79,000 in 2010.

“We are honored to receive such significant support from an organization known worldwide for its promotion of quality and innovative journalism,” said Alyssa Lenhoff, associate professor and director of the YSU journalism program. Lenhoff and Tim Francisco, assistant professor of journalism, direct the NewsOutlet.

The NewsOutlet, founded at YSU in 2009, partners student journalists at YSU, Kent State University and the University of Akron with professional media editors and journalism faculty. Now in its fourth year, NewsOutlet students have produced more than 150 investigative and enterprise stories for media organizations throughout Ohio, including WYSU-FM radio, the Vindicator in Youngstown, and the Beacon Journal and Rubber City Radio in Akron.

This spring, NewsOutlet reporters traveled to Texas to report stories about natural gas and oil well drilling. This year, a NewsOutlet investigation developed and published through the Vindicator won first place in the Ohio Associated Press Investigative Reporting category, and this fall the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative news organization, ProPublica, will pair with YSU students in an advanced reporting class.

The Knight Foundation funding is part of the Knight Community Information Challenge, which engages community and place-based foundations to support news and information projects that inform and engage residents. As part of the challenge, YSU, the Raymond John Wean Foundation, the Youngstown Foundation, KSU, WYSU, the University of Akron and others will match Knight’s support.

“TheNewsOutlet.org has produced important information that residents of Northeast Ohio need in order to make decisions about their lives,” said Jeffrey M. Glebocki, president of the Raymond John Wean Foundation. “The NewsOutlet is being recognized as a leading model for university-media collaborations and we are proud that it was born in our community.”

Lenhoff said the NewsOutlet model is unique for several reasons, including engaging student journalists with the community, providing future journalists with rich experience, exploring media collaboration and cooperation, and working in multiple platforms, i.e. web videos, narrated slide shows and print and radio broadcast stories.

For more information, contact Francisco at tfrancisco@ysu.edu or Lenhoff at ajlenhoff@ysu.edu.