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$56,000 Awarded to Four Women-Led News Projects

For Release:
March 6, 2012 

Contact: Jan Schaffer
202-885-8100

Washington, D.C. – Four public-service news ideas – from a site that compares local health costs and a tablet app for news comics, to a western North Carolina investigative news site, and a fast-growing LGBT site based in Seattle – each won a $14,000 award to develop their projects in the coming year.

The award winners were selected from 227 proposals received in the fifth year of the McCormick New Media Women Entrepreneurs initiative.

"This year's winners demonstrated clear-cut mindsets to take their start-up ideas and grow them into entrepreneurial businesses," said Jan Schaffer, director J-Lab, which administers the program.

“Focus, creativity and determination are at the heart of this competition,” said Clark Bell, Journalism Program Director of the Chicago-based Robert R. McCormick Foundation.  “Like winners in previous years, these four projects will provide timely, reliable news and information to their targeted audiences.”

Each of the four projects will receive $12,000 over the next year and an additional $2,000 upon raising a matching $2,000. A total of $56,000 will be awarded from the McCormick initiative. Project leaders will blog about their startups at www.newmediawomen.org. They join 14 other awardees selected from 1,806 applicants since 2008.

The winners are:

  • ClearHealthCosts.com, an ambitious effort launched by former New York Times editor Jeanne Pinder to do what many thought couldn't be done: bring transparency to health-care costs by helping consumers compare significant variations in local prices for the same medical procedures.
  • Symbolia, a tablet magazine spearheaded by media strategist Erin Polgreen that will blend investigative journalism with comics and illustration.
  • Carolina Public Press, a non-profit, in-depth, investigative news site for western North Carolina, launched by journalist Angie Newsome.
  • The Seattle Lesbian, a daily news site started by two journalists, Sarah Toce and Charlene Strong, who aspire to roll their initial success with news and traffic to a national network of sites.

This year's awardees were selected from an array of topics. The largest clusters of proposals focused on community news, ethnic news, health/ fitness and philanthropy and social enterprise projects.

Runners-up included:

  • Florida Voices, a digital opinion and commentary project to capture the conversations on state issues.
  • Key West Watch, a web, print and social media initiative to connect off-island Key West homeowners to news and public policy decisions that affect island life.
  • The FilAm, an online magazine for Filipinos in New York.

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, vice president and editor-in-chief of news and social media, Everydayhealth.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 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 Robert R. McCormick Foundation is committed to fostering communities of educated, informed and engaged citizens.

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.

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