Jun. 22, 2011, Washington, D.C. — Four diverse news ideas – including a mobile platform for hyperlocal news sites; a tech news site for Austin, Texas; a news magazine covering women’s basketball; and a rollout of a site for visualizing economic data – each won a $12,000 award to launch their projects in the coming year.

The award winners were selected from 378 proposals received in the fourth year of the McCormick New Media Women Entrepreneurs initiative.

This year’s applicants were markedly more sophisticated in their plans to launch and grow their projects and in their visions for using new technology and social media tools, said Jan Schaffer, director of J-Lab, which administers the program.

“The caliber of entries in this competition continues to increase,” said Clark Bell, Journalism Program Director of the Chicago-based Robert R. McCormick Foundation, which funds the New Media Women Entrepreneurs initiative. “The impressive quartet of winners represent a wide range of backgrounds—including a graduate student, a journalist, an information architect and a photographer.”

Each project will receive $12,000 to launch within a year and project leaders will blog about their experience at www.newmediawomen.org.  They join 10 other awardees selected since 2008. The winners are:

  • Mobile News Platform for Hyperlocal News – A proposal by Bo Hee Kim, a UC Berkeley graduate student to build a more user- and geo-friendly mobile news site for the journalism school’s three hyperlocal sites that may ultimately be used by other local sites.
  • SiliconHillsNews.com – A nonprofit startup for technology and biotechnology news in the Austin-San Antonio region, focusing on entrepreneurs, companies and creative people to be launched by TechChi blogger and journalist Laura Lorek.
  • Visualizing Economics – To expand on VisualizingEconomics.com and create Illustrated Guides that contain infographic explainers using economic data that help journalists, teachers, students, financial bloggers and citizens understand economic numbers and policy. The NMWE award supplements $14,000 that project founder Catherine Mulbrandon has raised on Kickstarter.
  • Inside Women’s Basketball – A proposal by Atlanta documentarian and photographer Kelly Kline to build out InsideWomensBasketball.com as the centralized news, entertainment and social networking site for some 12 million fans and participants of women’s basketball.

This year’s awardees were selected from an array of topics. The largest cluster of proposals focused on women’s issues; the second largest proposed new ideas for covering geographic communities.

Runners-up included:

  • Carolina Public Press, an in-depth news site for western North Carolina.
  • Speak and Listen Mobile News Reader, a spoken dialogue interface on mobile devices for listening to online news.
  • Rockies Rising, a site to connect and inform investors and entrepreneurs in the Rocky Mountain corridor.
  • I Am Young Nation, an online publication to attract and retain young urban doers.
  • The New Media Diversity Wire, an initiative to place women’s voices and ideas in high-profile online outlets, amplified by social media.

Participating in this year’s judging were:  Lisa Williams, founder and CEO, Placeblogger.com; Cory Haik, deputy editor, Universal News Desk, Washington Post; Ju-Don Roberts, senior vice president and executive editor, Beliefnet.com; Vivian Vahlberg, President, Vahlberg & Associates; Ellen Warren, senior correspondent, Chicago Tribune; Maria Ivancin, assistant professor, American University’s School of Communication; Janet Liao, journalism program officer, McCormick Foundation, and J-Lab’s Jan Schaffer.

The McCormick Foundation New Media Women Entrepreneurs is a unique initiative addressing opportunity and innovation, recruitment and retention for women in journalism by spotlighting their ingenuity and entrepreneurial abilities.

The McCormick Foundation advances the ideals of a free, democratic society by investing in children, communities and country.

J-Lab is a journalism catalyst for igniting news ideas that work by funding pilot projects, awarding innovations and sharing practical insights from years of working with news creators.

American University’s School of Communication is a laboratory for professional education, communication research and innovative production in the fields of journalism, film and media arts and public communication, working across media platforms and with a focus on public affairs and public service.