UT Journalism receives funding for digital innovation

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

With a growing demand for digital innovation in journalism, the Belo Foundation in Dallas awarded UT a $1.5 million grant to create the Dallas Morning News Innovation Endowment for the Moody College of Communications School of Journalism.

R.B. Brenner, director of the School of Journalism, said this funding will allow the school to recruit and support professional journalists in-residence and visiting experts, recruit top graduate students through the Dallas Morning News Graduate Fellows Program and choose an innovative director from within the school to coordinate projects with graduate and faculty fellows. 

“The Belo Foundation’s gift is nothing short of transformative,” Brenner said in a press release. “The endowment gives name, prominence and structure to an innovation culture that has emerged within the School of Journalism in recent years. Now, we’ll have the resources to spark and sustain innovation at all levels of our curriculum.”

While this is Brenner’s second year as the director of the school, he said the department has been working over the last four years to increase digital innovations. Some of these innovations include mobile application developments in collaboration with the computer science department and reporting stories on Snapchat.

UT President Gregory Fenves said the grant will better prepare student journalists for the future.      

“The Belo Foundation’s generosity to the Moody College of Communication has paid significant dividends for the university and the state through more robust journalism,” UT President Gregory L. Fenves said in a press release. “This gift will allow our students to engage in new forms of discovery in the classroom and become the type of sophisticated, tech-savvy journalists who can make our communities better.”

Journalism senior Alexa Harrington said innovative digital journalism is important to pursue because of how the field is shifting.

“Storytelling for journalists has gone way beyond words on paper,” Harrington said. “Now we can share the news through an interactive timeline, a map, a video, an infographic, a photo story, etc. UT journalism school is already teaching us how to be fluent in all areas of multimedia journalism, but with this money, we can do more than we ever imagined.”