The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting has been selected by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute as one of six fellowship projects for 2017-2018 that will focus on filter bubbles, bite-size training and business-side analytics.

“If you were looking for one word to describe this class, I’d suggest ‘practical,’” said Executive Director Randy Picht. “These projects are built to have an impact from the minute they’re finished.”

The 11th class was selected from nearly 300 applicants.

Each year, RJI seeks ideas from anyone who wants to help journalism sustain itself or thrive as an important pillar of democracy. There are three types of fellowships available: residential, nonresidential and institutional.

Residential fellows spend eight months on the University of Missouri campus. Nonresidential fellows explore their ideas from their home or office, with an occasional visit to campus. And institutional fellows have projects that leverage resources at the company or institution they are affiliated with.

Pam Dempsey, executive director of the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, will co-lead a team of data journalists and computer scientists who will develop a searchable, interactive database that will help journalists report on large multinational agribusiness companies and provide insights into the many ways these giant companies affect a community, a state and the world. Her co-leader will be Brant Houston, a professor and Knight Chair in Investigative Reporting at the University of Illinois.

This year’s class also includes:


Christopher Guess, a technologist and journalist, will add important new features to Push, an open-source mobile news app designed to make it easier or possible for small news organizations to provide a user-friendly mobile news solution. Research based on the usage of the app will also be conducted and shared with the industry.


Linda Austin, project director for NewsTrain, the Associated Press Media Editors’ touring workshop, will create and distribute a mobile-learning program that offers, in bite-size chunks, best practices for digital journalism and provides an interactive component to allow users to compare notes as they experiment.


Rebekah Monson, co-founder of WhereBy.Us, will help publishers find revenue opportunities hidden in their data by developing and testing a common data toolkit that will give small, independent publishers the ability to gather and analyze information from various audience engagement events.

Christian Skotte, co-director and head of digital of the public radio show Science Friday, will put together short and shareable informative resources from scientists to help listeners and others combat misinformation on social media. Skotte then wants to measure how much impact the resources have, and share those results and resources with the news industry.

A team from The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will address the troubling trend of trust in news media by creating an interactive game that will give news consumers an inside look at how a newsroom operates. The real-time strategy game will be based on real newsroom situations. The team consists of Executive Editor Zack Kucharski, Managing Editor of Digital Max Freund and Opinion Editor Jennifer Hemmingsen.

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