Good news: J-Lab New Voices to fund Oakland Local start-up

There’s good news: I’ve been awarded one of the eight 2009 New Voices grants awarded by J-:ab with Knight Foundation support this year (sound of Susan going crazy and jumping up and down). There were 304 applicants; it’s thrilling to have gotten this support (it’s up to $25,000 in funding over 2 years).

So what’s the funding for? It’s to kick start Oakland Local, a new site for Oakland.
Oakland Local will be a daily-updated Web site and mobile service with a focus on environment, climate, transportation, housing, local government and community activism in Downtown, Uptown, North Oakland, West Oakland, Fruitvale, Lake Merritt, and the Dimond District.

We will have an editor, a publisher and three paid part-time reporters who will produce content, along with community contributors. We’ll be very mobile-friendly  and the site will geotag content to an XML data map, encourage users to interact via cell phones and employ a range of social networking tools to surface, share and make discoverable so much of the amazing organizing and activism in Oakland.

For me, the Oscar Grant shooting were a transformative factor in applying for this grant.  I saw that there was a gap in reporting that none of the blogs or local news outlets, as good as they might be, actually filled–and that lots of the best discussion was happening in smaller groups, on the margins, where people new to Oakland (like myself) or people who were not part of a particular community, might not have access to that information. 

The vision here is to marry a deeper aggregation of community and non-profit content with more considered, analytical coverage of a narrow set of issues that have huge resonance for so many people in the O–and see what we can learn from the mix.There is so much happening that needs to be better surfaced–and an opportunity to blend organizational work from so many of the groups engaged in creating  change and policy–and to actually cover it as well.

I’m really busy with some projects right now, so I am not going to move into true planning mode until the summer, but I’m incredibly honored and excited to have a chance to do this project. 

Not only does it give me a chance to come full circle after co-creating New Jersey Online with Jeff Jarvis back in 1995 (!), it offers an opportunity to provide so many groups working on issues in Oakland an opportunity to have their work and views be heard and seen. And to work with lots of people to invent this.

Announcement here. THANK YOU

Latest Comments

  1. Ivan Pope says:

    Weren’t you working for the Knight Foundation? Or did I misremember something else? How does working for them relate to applying to them?

  2. Susan Mernit says:

    Ivan, I did work as a part time consultant for the Knight Foundation’s Knight News Challenge in 2008-09,but I do not now work for Knight, that contract ended. The New Voices judging and awarding grants is actually done by a third party journalism innovation program that Knight–and others– have funded for the past few years called J-Lab. They created this program that will help kickstart OAKL. The judging for the grant was done by a committee J-Lab assembled, and funds are awarded out of monies awarded to J-Lab, so this is a re-granting process.

  3. xianlandia.com says:

    This is very cool news! Let me know if I can help somehow…

  4. Lisa Stone says:

    This is a terrific idea and I’m excited to see what you accomplish. Bravo.

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