Journalists have before them an exciting opportunity to innovate.
The dawn of the Internet promised an era of global connectivity. Great connectivity brought with it the need to adapt to an evolving online ecosystem, one now characterized by digital manipulation, rampant mis/disinformation, so-called deep fakes and political polarization.
The Journalism Fellowship at Starling Lab, a research center anchored at Stanford's School of Engineering and USC's Shoah Foundation, is harnessing the power of cutting-edge authentication technology and decentralized web protocols to bridge the conversation between journalists and technologists.
Starling’s Journalism Fellowship aims to identify individuals eager to tell some of the world’s most pressing stories, infusing reporting with secure ways to capture, store and verify digital content, including photos, video, documents and data. Starling road-tests new technologies and incubates newsroom projects that strengthen data integrity, combat mis/disinformation and underscore the legacy values of journalism
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This spring, the Starling Lab welcomed its initial cohort of Journalism Fellows who will engage in six-month research and journalism projects. They include:
Associated Press investigative journalist Garance Burke, who will explore social media capture and authentication protocols, as well as preservation strategies and decentralized storage solutions to support a team investigative series probing the global impacts of artificial intelligence technologies.
Bay City News Photojournalists Harika Maddala and reporter Victoria Franco, who will create an authenticated “time capsule” of images documenting the Bay Area’s homelessness crisis while transparently tracking data from relevant government agencies.
Independent Photojournalist Pablo Albarenga who will use authenticated camera capture tools to better secure metadata at source, for a project that explores the disinformation landscape in Brazil and how it affects indigenous people impacted by climate change.
KQED reporter Lisa Pickoff-White and Big Local data journalist Dilcia Mercedes, who will use authentication methods to track patterns and detect gaps in official police misconduct and use-of-force reports and data from those documents.
NPR Member Station WHYY podcast host/contributor Malcolm Burnley, also an adjunct professor, Temple University Klein College of Media and Communications, will assist in the collection of authenticated audio stories from individuals who covered the 2020-2021 racial justice movement, aid in creating an archive to store ephemeral video and audio captured during those protests.
South China Morning Post Deputy Photo Editor, Martin Chan, who is leading a team that will apply the Starling Framework to establish provenance over images taken during Hong Kong's Legislative Council and Chief Executive elections.
Amplifier.org Founder and Creative Director Aaron Huey, who will explore and map the Web3 ecosystem for visual applications that can be used in educational curricula at the professional, collegiate and high school levels.
Who is eligible to apply?
The Fellowship is open to full-time editorial and technology employees of newspapers, magazines, wire services, nonprofit newsrooms, digital media, television and radio news organizations, as well as independent journalists around the world. Employees of technology companies working in the media space also are encouraged to apply.
The Starling Lab invites journalists and technologists who are eager to expand their technological and storytelling skills. We encourage collaboration among interdisciplinary teams, both editorial and technology. These can be from the same organization or with collaborating newsrooms.
The Starling Lab encourages proposals from local journalists and applicants from underrepresented groups, especially those who are covering their own communities.
What topic areas are eligible for grant funding?
We invite the submission of proposals for investigative and accountability reporting projects in the United States and around the world that break ground on the problem of mis/disinformation and data integrity. We welcome bold ideas for how technology can strengthen authenticity in reporting, enrich crucial context, and press for accountability. We incubate specific stories pursued by journalists in the field, as well as newsroom-wide tech projects.
We are looking for individuals keen on having an impact, either through visual or document-based reporting or an innovative application of new technology. Fellows will work on individual projects and find common ground with a shared commitment to combating mis/disinformation, bolstering trust in journalism, and strengthening democracy.
Starling reporting grants range from $5,000 to $20,000. All applicants must submit a budget proposal that covers time and expenses. Please see the fellowship application for budget requirements.
All fellows will submit a project proposal and plan.
All fellows will remotely attend educational seminars that are focused on technology and journalism. Academic and industry experts will discuss prototypes and potential solutions to the problems of trust, provenance, mis/disinformation, and how new decentralized technologies might provide roadmaps to such solutions. Fellows also will meet with tech leaders and academics from Stanford and USC to deepen their understanding of the technology and media ecosystems.
All fellows will be required to write a “case study” analyzing the use of the Starling framework in their project for publication on the Starling website.
Editorial guidance and technical support
Editors and technologists from the Starling Journalism Program will support Fellows’ work as needed to utilize technical tools and incorporate them into reporting, discuss reporting plans and field research with safety and ethics in mind.
The Starling Lab will collaborate with newsrooms to build out and publish the Fellow’s work and stories. Fellow's stories will integrate new technologies into newsrooms' workflow.