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SFBay founder leads grant-winning team

Tom Glaisyer of the Democracy Fund, Clark Bell with the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Ed Kelley with the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Jesse Garnier with San Francisco State University, Michael Bolden with the Knight Foundation, and Irving Washington with the Online News Association pose for a photo at the Journalism/Interactive 2014 Conference on Friday, April 4, 2014 in College Park, Md. (Dennis Chamberlin/Iowa State University)

A team from San Francisco State University led by SFBay founder and associate professor Jesse Garnier has been awarded a $35,000 grant from the inaugural Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education.

The two-year, $1 million Challenge Fund was organized by the Online News Association and supported by the Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Democracy Fund.

Garnier’s team will develop and demonstrate Newspoints, a mobile- and web-based tool for organizing and assisting digital reporting, asset collection and production:

SFBay founder Jesse Garnier

“Our strong intent is to bring a tool to students. But we would like to be able to build something that can be used by journalists at all levels who find value in the organization and interconnection of assets collected in the field.”

The SF State team won one of 12 grants announced Friday at the Journalism/interactive conference at the University of Maryland.

The $35,000 grant will fund development of the Newspoints apps and a set of student reporting projects in San Francisco’s Mission District with community partners El Tecolote and Accion Latina. Design technologist Sean Connelley from Stamen Design will also contribute the multi-disciplinary team.

Newspoints will next compete along with the 11 other winning projects for a pool of up to $100,000 in Challenge Fund grand prizes.

Online News Association director of operations Irving Washington said both the quantity and quality of the 125 entries — triple what organizers anticipated — made the judging process difficult:

Irving Washington, Online News Association

“Often times in these programs people will say this was a difficult decision. This really was a difficult decision. So much in the fact that our original goal of setting 10 winners we actually awarded two additional winners.”

Garnier thanked the funders, organizers and judges for the award, especially given the extremely competitive nature of the grant process:

“I need to congratulate my fellow winners, the honorable mentions and all the entrants. It is an honor to be considered alongside projects and institutions representing the very best in journalism education.”

Garnier is joined on the Newspoints team by SF State colleagues Dragutin Petkovic, chair of the Computer Science department, and Photojournalism professor Ken Kobre.

Nearly three dozen SF State Journalism majors have signed on as interested in pursuing the project over the next year of development, testing and deployment.

Additional support for Newspoints was provided by Journalism department chair Cristina Azocar. The SF State Journalism department is overseen by Dean of the College of Liberal and Creative Arts Paul Sherwin, and the Computer Science department by College of Science and Engineering Dean Sheldon Axler.

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