The grant, which the university will match with $1 million of its own, will support a new research center dedicated to the exploration of new models for community news and the testing and development of innovative digital media products for local news sites. Among other things, the funds will enable the school to expand its digital media economics and marketing research, which focuses on finding patterns and strategies to better sustain legacy news organizations and digital startups in the twenty-first century, and to further develop new digital tools and products that can help reporters and editors be more effective and nimble in the newsroom.
"The digital disruption of traditional news organizations has had a disproportionate impact on small and regional news operations, jeopardizing the information needs of local communities across the country," said Jennifer Preston, vice president for journalism at the foundation. "With the University of North Carolina's help, this new research center will support quality journalism at the local and regional level, examining the depths of the problem and identifying potential and existing solutions that can be replicated. It will also work to set a new standard for journalism innovation in newsrooms across the country."