About

The Knight-funded Innovators-in-Residence program brings top media professionals who are leading change in their newsrooms to the WVU campus to create new curriculum, experiment with new technology, and equip students and regional media with new skills to tackle current—and anticipated—challenges in the industry.

The Innovators-in-Residence program has hosted eight innovators across five semesters in which the IIRs collaborate with faculty to lead a project or experiment related to their expertise. Because Innovators are able to participate virtually each week in class combined with on-site immersion visits, the program serves as a living window for students into some of the most dynamic newsrooms in the country.

Phoebe Connelly leads an Experimental Storytelling class virtually with on-ground instructor Nancy Andrews as create a 3d model of a room in the Media Innovation Center using the Matterport camera. (David Smith/WVU Reed College of Media)
Phoebe Connelly of the Washington Post leads an Experimental Storytelling class virtually with on-ground instructor Nancy Andrews. In this class they are creating a 3d model using the Matterport camera. (David Smith/WVU Reed College of Media)

The unique aspects of the program come out of the following mindsets:

We want to work with cool people who are generous and open and creative.

We’ve had the pleasure and privilege of engaging a network of collaborators over the program who have been instrumental in leading change in the industry. In addition to the distinguished set of innovators-in-residence (Sarah Slobin, Quartz; Derek Willis, ProPublica; John Keefe, WNYC; David Mistich, WVPB; Phoebe Connelly, Washington Post; Danese Kenon, Pittsburgh Gazette; John Ketchum, CNN; and Tricia Fulkes-Kelley, Independent Digital Journalist), the program introduces students and faculty to our IIRs’ “friends of friends” who appear as guest speakers for the program. This widening network gives students and faculty a front seat to change in the industry and a window into innovative newsrooms from Quartz to NPR to CodeSwitch to NowThis.

We want to take create a level playing field.

The program pairs an innovator from a major market organization with one from a regional news organization to work together to solve an industry problem. This is designed to bridge a divide between large and small industry innovators and to include more voices in shaping the future of journalism and journalism education.

David Mistich of WVPB works with John Keefe of WNYC to experiment with a water sensor reporting project called StreamLab.
David Mistich of WVPB works with John Keefe of WNYC to experiment with a water sensor reporting project called StreamLab.

We want to work in real time.

This program is designed as an on-demand, problem-solving model in response to industry needs. We share real-time narration of experiments-in-process and provide workshop and training sessions to share what doesn’t work as quickly as what does with participating media. And we diffuse new skill sets into new curriculum right away, enabling faculty and students across the program to benefit without delay.

Associate Teaching Professor Bob Britten demonstrates sensor journalism applications in his Maker Journalism class developed as an outcome of the Innovators-in-Residence program.
Associate Teaching Professor Bob Britten demonstrates sensor and other arduino-based journalism applications from his Maker Journalism class at a community workshop.

We want to make futurists.

We want to instill curiosity, agility and new skill sets in our faculty; to create future makers and problem-solvers in our students; and to seed innovation culture and new practice in our regional media.

Sophomore Jillian Clemente takes a lead in the Sensor Journalism project and leads a workshop in how to build a Riffle water sensor.
Sophomore Jillian Clemente takes a lead in the sensor journalism project and leads a workshop for community media and citizen scientists in how to build a Riffle water sensor.

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The Innovators-in-Residence Program is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with a $200,000 grant to expand the college’s ongoing efforts to create a culture of experimentation and innovation and encourage change in journalism education.

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Additional project funding is provided by a $35,000 micro-grant from the Online News Association (ONA) competitive Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education.