Keys to prototype development: Researching and networking

Oct 10 2014

The Journalists for America team is creating a potential program to help journalism school graduates report in small communities for one to two years. The goals of the program include enhancing community journalism and providing journalism school graduates with experience.

The two main lessons we continue to learn this week are the importance of learning models that are similar to what we are pitching and the importance of networking with experts who can provide essential feedback.

Amulya Uppalapati, Elizabeth Bartholf and Hannah Doksansky pitch JFA at Reese News Lab workshop.

Amulya Uppalapati, Elizabeth Bartholf and Hannah Doksansky pitch JFA at a Reese News Lab workshop.

Research similar models

One of the most important parts of developing prototypes is to do research and learn about ideas that are similar to what we are creating. As we learn about previous models, we can strategize about what needs to be improved.

My team originally began researching community journalism programs in colleges such as the University of Alabama.

We also contacted Teach for America and Venture for America to have a better understanding of their models. Last week, we discussed a different approach with a professor here at the University of North Carolina. Each model we researched until now is very different, and each model has been helpful for our idea. We are trying to figure out how to improve our idea based on this research.

Network for a prototype and a viability model

Along with learning about similar models, networking is essential for prototype development. We are currently preparing for a call with Bill Densmore who has performed extensive research on a similar project.

After talking to Josh Stearns, director of journalism and sustainability at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, last week and reading research for his program Report for America, we have realized that funding was one of the major setbacks to the Report for America plan. We are brainstorming ideas for the viability model this week, and by networking with Report for America contacts, we can have stronger ideas for our viability model.

By having access to additional contacts who have experience with a similar model and by contacting Bill Densmore, who has been the director/editor of the Media Giraffe Project at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, we are learning more about how important it is to network for prototype development. While it is important to hear about end users’ feedback, it is also important to learn from experts who tried similar models. We can also have additional input for a viability model, which is one of the biggest areas we need to focus on now.


Previously on community journalism:

With one foot firmly planted, my team pivots slightly

Embracing changes to your shiny new idea

IRB patience lends time to dig deeper

Two key strategies for the beginning stages of a prototype

Why IRB calls for specificity 

How might we meet the information needs of communities?


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