ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – An experimental student news lab at the University of New Mexico has been granted $50,000 by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. The money allows the New Mexico News Port to continue growing its “innovation and collaboration” model in the 2015-2016 academic year.
“We’re thrilled. This is a significant gift that recognizes the progress the News Port is making,” said Michael V. Marcotte, the lab’s founder and faculty supervisor. “With this funding, we can proceed with a second year of developing our platform, our role in the journalism curriculum and our media partnerships.”
The New Mexico News Port is a publishing platform to help train student journalists in professional reporting and writing, ethics, and advanced multimedia production. It also serves as a hub for collaboration between the UNM Communication and Journalism Department and interested media partners, which have included KUNM-FM, NMPBS, The Daily Lobo and New Mexico In Depth.
Above: The logo for New Mexico News Port’s current project, “Curious New Mexico,” in which journalists take questions from the public and pursue the answers as stories in collaboration with the public.
Current coverage on the News Port is a public engagement project called Curious New Mexico, in which students seek to answer questions raised by New Mexicans. Last fall, the News Port championed in-depth reporting on the 2014 New Mexico general election. The News Port is also part of a media partnership called “People, Power & Democracy,” which covers the 2015 New Mexico Legislature.
“Our next area of coverage is now open for discussion,” said Kate Nash, News Port editor and UNM adjunct faculty member. “We’re excited to be able move forward and think creatively about where to aim next.”
“Congratulations to the News Port team and all the project partners,” said Karen Foss, chairwoman of the Communication and Journalism Department. “Special thanks to the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation and our friends at the UNM Foundation who are helping to make the News Port a sustainable effort.”
The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, based in Oklahoma City, was founded by Edith Kinney Gaylord. Its mission is “to invest in the future of journalism by building the ethics, skills and opportunities needed to advance principled, probing news and information.“
The New Mexico News Port project was started in 2014 and grew out of an initial grant of $35,000 from the Online News Association’s “Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education.” Support for the challenge fund was provided by Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund, and the Rita Allen Foundation.
New Mexico News Port Facts
· In 2014, UNM was one of only 12 U.S. universities to win the highly competitive grant, Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, from the Online News Association to “hack the curriculum.”
· The UNM Communication and Journalism Department (C&J) used the challenge grant to launch The New Mexico News Port, headed up by new “professor of practice,” Michael Marcotte, a veteran news manager, and News Port editor Kate Nash, a highly respected New Mexico journalist and C&J instructor.
· The News Port promotes three important causes:
- It teaches students quality journalism by doing quality journalism;
- It links UNM to journalism partners to promote collaboration and experimentation;
- It results in actual public service journalism for the benefit of New Mexicans.
· The News Port promises a scale of journalistic collaboration never seen in New Mexico. News Port partners during the start-up phase were The Daily Lobo, KUNM-FM, New Mexico PBS and the non-profit online news service New Mexico In-Depth. The port is always open to new partners.
· Many C&J faculty have begun orienting their courses to this new collaborative training environment, including Dr. Richard Schaefer, Dr. Ilia Rodriguez, Dr. David Weiss, Dr. Josh Bentley, Lillian Kelly, Gwyneth Doland, Randy Lantz and Melanie Majors. The project has been championed by C&J chair, Dr. Karen Foss.
· Coverage during the fall semester was devoted to tracking the New Mexico elections. News Port produced more than 100 stories including profiles of candidates, data-driven stories on campaign finance, and in-depth reports on the issues affecting voters. Election night coverage involved more than 50 students from six C&J classes working in real-time collaboration with the News Port and its partners.
· To date, the News Port site has received more than 12,000 page views.
· Students produced a "behind the scenes" video looking at the first semester of the News Port.
· For Spring 2015, the News Port team is launching a project called “Curious New Mexico,” in which we ask the public what questions they have about anything at all. So far, some 200 questions have been submitted. Questions are curated and assigned, resulting in student-reported stories that provide answers in the form of news stories. We expect the stories will range from interesting trivia, to historical facts, to more challenging investigations.
· You can support the port! We are seeking individual donations to help support student interns, new equipment, travel costs, training costs and other expenses. Please visit our UNM Foundation page for the Fund for Journalism Innovation.
· Another exciting element of our innovation lab will be hosting learning sessions – brown bag lunches, Skype chats with experts and bootcamps (training for local professionals). In September, we sponsored a “Follow the Money” training for students and professionals by Eve Byron of the National Institute for Money in State Politics.
· Our concept is that the lab can pivot frequently to accommodate student and faculty interests, partner interests, and public interests. Our tenets borrow from cutting edge principles of human-centered design, agile development, open-source coding, mobile and social networking. We imagine a future in which we begin to specialize in advanced digital techniques -- including entrepreneurial endeavors. In this way, the lab is part of an exciting upswing in innovation in Albuquerque.