Teaming up to help journalism thrive in the digital age

Three women receiving ICFJ training
ICFJ training in the field.

As part of our mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, Microsoft recognizes not just the fundamental need for a free press, but also the fundamental need for the free press to adapt to how people seek information.

Technology has empowered citizens to find, create and share information in unprecedented ways. How can we help journalists around the world tell stories, from sports updates to watchdog investigations, in ways that promote transparency, understanding and engagement?

Today, we’re proud to announce the Microsoft Modern Journalism grant program in collaboration with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). Based in Washington, D.C., ICFJ has a track record of fostering news innovation, building investigative networks, running exchange programs and promoting diverse voices. Its global mission — to build the expertise and digital skills that journalists need to deliver trustworthy news essential for vibrant societies — has so far created a community 100,000-journalists strong in 180 countries.

Sharon Moshavi, ICFJ’s senior vice president of new initiatives, shares their view and vision about our new partnership this way:

“We’re thrilled to partner with the Microsoft Modern Journalism Initiative to support reporting projects focused on data analysis and immersive storytelling. Through these projects, we aim to highlight innovative ways that journalists can enhance news coverage and connect more deeply with audiences.”

The grant program will operate in two phases: The first will award funding and hands-on data journalism training to two alumni of ICFJ programs. Data journalism grounds stories in fact, makes the information transparent to its audiences, and distills the essential pertinent narrative from what could otherwise be an overwhelming swamp of information. By honing the journalist’s digital skills, we’re addressing what ICFJ has defined as a “perilous” gap in newsrooms.

The second phase will award grants for funding and training journalists need to pioneer storytelling using immersive technologies like livestreaming and mixed reality. While data invites fact-based exploration on a large scale, immersive storytelling can be remarkably intimate. It is in these shared experiences where knowledge may become understanding, observation may engender empathy, and learning may translate into action.

We look forward to announcing our winners in March. In the meantime, we encourage you to see, support and join in the kind of work that ICFJ does, be it a sobering virtual tour of the largest slum in Karachi, Pakistan, the fifth most populous city in the world, or a heartening partnership of a global conglomerate and environmental and social nonprofits to safeguard water quality in Nairobi. These stories the world over remind us of the challenges that face all of us, and how much we depend on sharing stories in ways that touch us, educate us and, most importantly, inspire us to act for the best.

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