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The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute today awarded a record 13 fellowships for the 2014-2015 school year, including — for the first time — six institutional fellowships that will allow RJI to work directly with media organizations to address opportunities and challenges for the news industry.

It’s the second consecutive year that RJI has set a record for fellowships awarded. The current class of fellows, which finishes up this month, has nine members.

“We’re delighted to get the tremendous interest in our program. In fact, this year we also received a record number of applications (267)," said Randy Picht, RJI’s executive director. “We get so many great ideas and projects that our final selection round is pretty tough."

Reynolds Fellows will be working on a wide range of projects including exploring native advertising for small newspapers, experimenting with telling stories across multiple media platforms and extending the value and effectiveness of social media for newsrooms.

The inaugural group of companies that have received institutional fellowships include: The Washington Post, St. Louis Public Radio, VML, LION Digital Media, Huckle Media and The Texas Tribune.

These companies have identified a project and a person to oversee the initiative. RJI will provide $20,000 to the company and other funds to cover travel and other expenses to get the project done.

In addition to the six institutional fellowships, RJI will have two residential fellows who work full-time on their projects and re-locate to Columbia, three nonresidential fellows and two University of Missouri campus fellows.

This will be the seventh class of fellows at RJI and brings the total number of Reynolds Fellows to 51 since the institute was first funded in 2004.

The RJI fellowship program is focused on innovation and solutions. Results, in the form of strategies, products or services, will be shared with news and news-related organizations.

RJI is housed at the Missouri School of Journalism, providing all the resources of a major research university. In addition, fellows have access to RJI’s Futures Lab and Microsoft Application Development Lab, staffed with professionals in media and emerging technologies, and to rigorous and robust research resources. All fellows also receive staff support for marketing, communications, event planning and video production.

To learn more about the RJI fellowship program, click here.

2014-2015 Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellowships


Alex RemingtonThe Washington Post will study how news organizations can display and package news stories in a more memorable and comprehensible way, specifically on mobile devices. Project leader: Alex Remington, product manager.

Kelsey ProudSt. Louis Public Radio will study how news organizations can most effectively engage niche groups in a community. Project leader: Kelsey Proud, engagement editor.

Chad MartinVML will explore the most effective, most productive ways to use social media in a news and brand environment that make the most of what Twitter, Facebook, etc., have to offer. Project leader: Chad Martin, director of social and emerging media.

Conrad JungmannLION Digital Media will pursue the launch of a digital planning platform that will empower marketers to be able to access local media advertising opportunities easily and effectively. Project leader: Conrad Jungmann, founding partner.

Jaci SmithHuckle Media will study trends in native advertising and their application for small- and medium-sized media companies. Project leader: Jaci Smith, managing editor.Tim GriggsThe Texas Tribune will pilot "growth hacking" (using a rapid test-and-learn technology approach to marketing) to spur digital audience growth. Project leader: Tim Griggs, publisher and chief operating officer.


David HansenDavid Hansen, founding member of Mync, will pursue the development of a new online toolkit that will innovate how rich-media is used on the Web and enable anyone to easily create elaborate video-based Web experiences.

Dan ArcherDan Archer will explore transmedia (publishing different parts of news stories across multiple digital platforms) storytelling through the creation of a visual news consultancy, Empathetic Media, that will provide production services to newsrooms without the in-house expertise or budget to do so for themselves. Platforms will include the Occulus Rift virtual reality headset and Unity game engine (for VR and Web apps), as well as interactive webdocs, multimedia graphic journalism pieces and data visualizations produced in HTML5.


Nikki UsherNikki Usher, assistant professor at The George Washington University, will study for-profit startups in journalism, specifically new digital news outlets, to determine if technology is making inroads to “reboot” journalism and provide new opportunities for citizens to consume news.

David GehringDavid Gehring, Global Alliances and Partnership Strategy, Google, will study how news organizations can accurately measure the effectiveness and value of social media when comparing news outlets with an eye toward using the set of metrics as a factor to help raise monetization rates.

Jeanne BrooksJeanne Brooks, executive director of Hacks/Hackers, will study the impact that a network of journalists and programmers will have upon the media industry and how to organize regular collaboration in an organized fashion.

University of Missouri campus fellows

Mary GrigsbyMary Grigsby, professor of rural sociology, will qualitatively examine young adult (18-29) careerists’ changing media behaviors and how their motivations and preferences will affect the products and services news organizations should be thinking about.

Bimal BalakrishnanBimal Balakrishnan, director of the Immersive Visualization Lab, will explore new ideas for journalism to jump on the 3-D bandwagon and make it easier for newsrooms to stay ahead of this emerging technology.

RJI fellowships
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