imageThe University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) was awarded a $35,000 micro-grant in the 2015-16 Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education. Eleven grants were awarded to 13 U.S. universities to seed collaborative news experiments in their communities.

The Challenge Fund grant is the result of collaboration between the Online News Association (ONA), the 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. This grant is the first of its caliber to be awarded to the SOJC.

“Its great to be recognized by the top funders of journalism education and contribute to experimentation in the field,” said SOJC assistant professor Ed Madison.

SOJC students will use this project, entitled “Don’t Wait for the Quake,” as a vessel to measure how journalism can impact Oregonians’ attitudes toward earthquake preparedness. This live-news experiment will partner journalism students with Oregon Public Broadcasting to produce a live-televised town meeting, using an innovative app called Harvis, to measure audience and viewer attitudes and intended actions.

Harvis is a mobile web application that allows individuals to share their perspectives and be active participants in collective action-oriented dialogue by capturing their real-time emotional responses to recorded- or live-media. Students will then be able to use aggregated response data to determine which messaging resonated most with their audience.

Andrew DeVigal, SOJC Chair in Journalism Innovation and Civic Engagement and professor of practice, created Harvis. DeVigal, says the app “provides an opportunity to gather insights from audience members and help facilitate conversation during the project.”

“The opportunity to use the Harvis software takes this project to a higher level, in terms of civic engagement,” explains Madison. “It will enable us to aggregate responses from our live audience in unprecedented ways.”

The 53 entries for the 2015-16 Challenge Fund were judged on their ability to create collaborative, student-produced local news coverage, bridge the professor-professional gap, use innovative techniques and technologies and learn from digital-age news experiments. Winning teams included some combination of students, researchers, media professionals, educators, developers and designers.

Story by Jessica Glackin ‘15