Klein College receives grant to fund info hub for newsrooms

The program, dubbed News Catalyst, will provide technology to newsrooms.

The Klein College of Media and Communication and the Center for the Performing and Cinematic Arts are slated to get a new building at the end of 2020. | JAMIE COTTRELL / FILE PHOTO

The Knight-Lenfest Fund awarded $2-million to the Klein College of Media and Communication so that the college can help news organizations become more sustainable in the digital age.

Aron Pilhofer, an associate professor of journalism and the James B. Steele Chair in Journalism Innovation at Klein College, is using the two-year grant to fund News Catalyst, an information hub that advises media organizations on best practices in digital newsrooms, Pilhofer said.

The hub will also collaborate with newsrooms to create new digital tools or technology that fit their specific needs, said David Boardman, dean of Klein College. 

A news organization may contact News Catalyst, for instance, and ask them how to create a sign-up button for digital subscribers, Boardman said. The hub would either direct the newsroom to resources available on the topic or collaborate with them to build the technology, he said.

The Facebook Journalism Project also supports News Catalyst through an additional $1-million grant, according to a release from the Lenfest Institute.

The Klein-Lenfest Fund’s grant will provide opportunities for students to work part-time at the hub, Pilhofer said. He is also considering integrating New Catalyst’s work into the course The Future of Journalism, which he currently teaches, or creating a new class focused entirely on the hub, he said.

“Obviously my goal is to create as many opportunities as possible for Temple students to be a part of this project,” Pilhofer added.

Sam Cohn, a sophomore journalism major, said he would be interested in a class that worked in conjunction with News Catalyst.

The high-quality work that Klein’s students and faculty have produced proves that the school is capable of advising other organizations through this hub, Cohn added.

“So that right there should show how much knowledge is in this little hub at Temple University and Klein College,” he said. “So, their ability to take that and move forward with it to help others…it shouldn’t be something that’s questioned.”

Hannah Pittel, a senior journalism major, said she thinks the hub is important because it will help newsrooms adapt for the future.

“I love print,” Pittel said. “I love holding things and reading them. But how the world is right now and how it works, everything’s digital. And I think that it’s really important for news outlets to evolve with the world.” 

The Knight-Lenfest Fund chose Klein because the college has a “real understanding of the nuanced role that technology plays in the transformation of local news,” said Roxann Stafford, the managing director of the fund.

“It’s not just about the latest technology. It’s about how do you help people learn to apply it,” she added.

Boardman, as the chair of the Lenfest Institute, recused himself from discussions between the Institute and the Knight Foundation about the grant, he said.

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