VICE Media and Knight Foundation launch new $500,000 journalism innovation fund at CUNY to support innovative storytelling around the world

VICE co-founder Shane Smith accepts Knight Innovation Award, gives forward $25,000 to PAYK, Afghani investigative reporting organization, as part of award

NEW YORK—Dec. 1, 2014—To help propel innovation and experimentation in journalism, VICE Media and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced a new initiative in collaboration with City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism. Knight and VICE will invest $500,000 in the Knight-VICE Innovators Fund at CUNY to train journalists to adopt new ways of storytelling for the next generation of news consumers.

The announcement was made at the Knight Innovation Award ceremony, where VICE Media co-founder and CEO Shane Smith received Knight Foundation’s second annual Innovation Award for bringing fresh perspectives and voices to journalism. The award is hosted by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and its Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism.

As part of the honor, Smith received $25,000, plus another $25,000 to present to a startup of his choosing. Smith selected PAYK, a nonprofit investigative reporting media organization based in Afghanistan, as his choice of an outstanding news and information innovator to receive the discretionary prize. PAYK aims to better inform the world through in-depth news coverage and by providing security training to journalists.

Following the award presentation, Smith, Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism, and Sarah Bartlett, dean of the CUNY Journalism School, announced the new Knight-VICE Innovators Fund. Hosted by CUNY, the fund will support training for reporters from around the world to pursue and present hard-to-tell stories using new techniques and innovations.

“To engage the next generation of news consumers on important issues around the world, we need to tell stories in new ways while maintaining a commitment to strong, quality reporting,” said Preston. “VICE’s immersive, adaptive style has created a model for a style of storytelling that should spread; with CUNY’s help we hope to do just that through this new initiative.”

“The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism is committed to blending our profession’s traditional values with innovative approaches to journalistic storytelling,” said Bartlett. “We are thrilled that this new support from VICE and Knight will enable us to train more journalists to push harder at journalism’s frontiers and engage audiences more deeply.”

Shane Smith is the second individual to receive the Knight Innovation Award. Last year’s award recipient was Sue Gardner, a journalist and former executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.

KnightFoundation.org

About VICE Media

VICE is a global youth media company and the industry leader in producing and distributing the best online video content in the world. Launched in 1994 as a punk magazine, VICE now operates out of 36 countries, and has expanded into a multimedia network, including the world’s premier source for original online video, VICE.COM; an international network of digital channels; a television & feature film production studio; a magazine; a record label; and a book-publishing division.

VICE.com

About PAYK

PAYK aims to better inform the world through investigative reporting and providing protection to journalists. PAYK brings together journalists and media professionals from within Afghanistan and around the world together in order to foster a dialogue that will lead to enlightenment, activism and a sense of belonging to a global community.

PAYKOnline.com

About the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism opened in 2006 with a commitment to blend traditional journalistic values with new forms of storytelling that embrace digital technology. Its innovative curriculum offers multimedia-focused Master of Arts degrees in journalism, entrepreneurial journalism, and social journalism in the heart of the nation’s media capital. It also offers a one-semester Advanced Certificate in Entrepreneurial Journalism and a summer intensive digital journalism workshop series focused on emerging skill sets.

Journalism.cuny.edu

CONTACTS:

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, media@knightfoundation.org

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.