Google News Lab, Knight Foundation and ONA launch coalition to help newsrooms experiment with immersive storytelling

360 Partnership 16x9DENVER – Sept. 15, 2016 – The Online News Association announced today that it will join with the Google News Lab and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to help newsrooms experiment with and advance the field of immersive storytelling.

The project, called Journalism 360, will use grants, workshops, webinars and online resources to support a network of journalists using 360 video, augmented and virtual reality for storytelling. Two immersive storytelling pioneers, Mitch Gelman, chief technology officer of the Newseum, and Sarah Hill, chief executive officer and chief storyteller of Story Up VR, will lead efforts for the online resource hub. ONA will work with Google and Knight to build an international network of journalists focused on sharing ideas and best practices through live events, training and workshops.

Over the next year, Knight and Google News Lab will invest a combined $500,000 for the following:

  • In-depth Content: On Medium, Journalism 360 will host a range of case studies, explainers and analyses on subjects such as narrative techniques, editing video, ethics and more;
  • Learning: Online and in-person workshops, events and trainings to encourage more journalists, journalism educators and newsrooms to use tools available from various technology platforms to explore emerging forms of visual storytelling and to engage users;
  • Funding: In 2017, Knight and Google will launch an immersive storytelling challenge fund that will award grants ranging from $5,000 to $35,000 for great ideas that will advance the collective understanding of these new forms including narratives, ethics, production and other issues. More details on how to apply for grants will be available soon.

“We’ve heard from journalists around the globe that there is a huge need for this type of knowledge sharing. We’re thrilled to partner with Knight, Online News Association and so many wonderful industry pioneers to bring journalists together to share ideas and experiences in this new field of immersive storytelling,” said Erica Anderson, partnerships manager, Google News Lab.

ONA Executive Director Jane McDonnell announced the Journalism 360 project at the organization’s annual conference in Denver.

“The ONA community prides itself on being early adopters and experimenters, so we are delighted to work with our long-time partners to offer valuable help around this technology, which has already shown incredible potential for deeper journalism,” McDonnell said.

Jennifer Preston, vice president for journalism at Knight Foundation, said the project will address many of the challenges and opportunities identified in a Knight report on virtual reality and journalism that was released at the annual SXSW conference earlier this year.

“By supporting a network of journalists committed to experimenting in immersive storytelling and sharing what they have learned, we can determine how best to support the use of these emerging technology platforms for journalism,” Preston said.

In December 2015, Knight Foundation supported a project with Frontline and Emblematic’s Nonny de la Peña to document best practices in the use of virtual reality for journalism. Knight also recently awarded a grant to University of Southern California journalism professor Robert Hernandez for his students to experiment with virtual reality storytelling in the classroom.

Funding for Journalism 360 is part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to advance the practice of journalistic excellence through experimentation, innovation and leadership. Knight also announced support to the University of Oregon this week to create a new community of practice platform to share lessons in engaged journalism.

To learn more about the project please visit:

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit

About ONA
The Online News Association is the world’s largest association of online journalists. ONA’s mission is to inspire innovation and excellence among journalists to better serve the public. The membership includes news writers, producers, designers, editors, bloggers, technologists, photographers, academics, students and others who produce and distribute news for digital delivery systems. ONA also hosts the annual Online News Association annual conference and administers the Online Journalism Awards.