December 1, 2014

Vice Media co-founder Shane Smith announced Monday the creation of a $500,000 training fund in partnership with the Knight Foundation to “help propel innovation and experimentation in journalism.”

Smith announced the Knight-Vice innovators fund at the Knight Innovation Award ceremony, where he received the foundation’s Innovation Award “for bringing fresh perspectives and voices to journalism,” according to a press release from The Knight Foundation.

The fund, which will be administered by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism, will be used to train journalists to report on difficult stories in innovative ways, according to the release.

The Knight Foundation and Vice Media will each contribute $250,000 to the fund, said Anusha Alikhan, director of communications for The Knight Foundation.

Here’s the release:

To help propel innovation and experimentation in journalism, VICE Media and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced a new initiative in collaboration with City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism. VICE and Knight will establish the Knight-VICE innovators fund at CUNY to train journalists to adopt new ways of storytelling for the next generation of news consumers.

The announcement was made at the Knight Innovation Award ceremony, where VICE Media co-founder and CEO Shane Smith received Knight Foundation’s second annual Innovation Award for bringing fresh perspectives and voices to journalism. The award is hosted by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and its Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism.

As part of the honor, Smith was granted $25,000 and given another $25,000 to present to a startup of his choosing. Smith selected Payk, a nonprofit investigative reporting media organization based in Afghanistan, as his choice of an outstanding news and information innovator to receive the second prize. Payk aims to better inform the world through in-depth news coverage and provide security training to journalists.

Following the award presentation, Smith, Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism, and Sarah Bartlett, CUNY Journalism School Dean announced the new Knight-VICE innovators fund. Hosted by CUNY, the fund will support training for reporters from around the world to pursue and present hard-to-tell stories using new techniques and innovations.

“To engage the next generation of news consumers on important issues around the world, we need to tell stories in new ways while maintaining a commitment to strong, quality reporting,” said Preston. “VICE’s immersive, adaptive style has created a model for a style of storytelling that should spread—with CUNY’s help we hope to do just that through this new initiative.”

“The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism is committed to blending our profession’s traditional values with innovative approaches to journalistic storytelling,” said Bartlett. “We are thrilled that this new support from VICE and Knight will enable us to train more journalists to push harder at journalism’s frontiers and engage audiences more deeply.”

Shane Smith is the second individual to receive the Knight Innovation Award. Last year’s award recipient was Sue Gardner, journalist and former executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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