Local Media Foundation announced plans to award 12 stipends to participants in the Oklahoma Media Center in the first wave of the OMC’s 2021 Innovation Fund.

Inasmuch Foundation provided $100,000 to start the Innovation Fund through LMF, which is executing this program designed to test new business models and find new ways to engage and reach diverse audiences.

Twelve stipends involving 14 Oklahoma news organizations will be issued in this round:

The Frontier, Tulsa: This project will create a website with stories, interactive graphics and maps detailing how each of the five tribes affected have dealt with the Supreme Court’s landmark McGirt v. Oklahoma ruling as well as facts about each tribe’s criminal justice system, jurisdictional boundaries and history.

The Frontier, Tulsa, with the Curbside Chronicle, Oklahoma City: This cross-platform project will provide collaborative coverage of patient dumping, the practice of releasing homeless or indigent patients to public shelters or on the streets.

KOSU, Stillwater: Membership retention: This initiative will research and seek a specific partnership to implement a membership retention idea to integrate an email list with a database to sustain revenue.

The Lawton Constitution, Lawton: Media literacy training: This “Media Literacy” curriculum for middle school students will be introduced in Lawton Public Schools. Upon evaluation of the unit curriculum, the project will be made available to other school districts throughout Oklahoma.

Moore Monthly with University of Oklahoma Gaylord College and HolaOK of Oklahoma City: Gun, voice and safety collaboration: This partnership with OU’s Gaylord College, the private sector and diverse media will provide data journalism tracking and reporting gunshots in Oklahoma.

Native American Journalists Association, Norman: The continuing “Covering COVID-19 in Indian Country” roundtable series. This is part of the Red Press Initiative measuring journalistic freedom within Native America and developing training, resources and education for outlets serving Indigenous tribes.

NonDoc, Oklahoma City: Traveling town halls: This project of mobile visits to offer several non-metropolitan town halls throughout Oklahoma will include listening to what rural residents need.

Oklahoma City Free Press with Trifecta Communications, Oklahoma City: This sponsored collaboration will highlight public art with augmented reality technology and online news.

Oklahoma Watch, Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Capitol Tracker. This online legislative bill tracking portal will allow Oklahomans to more easily monitor the proposals that will shape their future.

Oklahoma Watch, Oklahoma City, with StateImpact Oklahoma: Traveling listening project/polling: This collaboration will improve coverage of underrepresented Oklahomans and will serve as the basis for targeted public opinion research to provide actionable data about preferences and concerns in those communities.

Tyler Media Telemundo Noticiero Oklahoma, Oklahoma City: Weather software: This project will include software upgrades with the goal of improving the meteorological department and social media presence for the state’s only Spanish newscast.

The Verified News Network, Tulsa: Progressive web app for VNN: This free-to-use social media platform will allow OMC news partners to showcase, share and fund their news stories.

Penny Riordan, Local Media Association’s director of business strategy and partnerships, will help OMC execute the Innovation Fund with monthly check-ins on projects and coaching for projects along the way.

“Our ultimate goal is for the winning projects to be replicated elsewhere where these ideas can help sustain Oklahoma journalism,” said Rob Collins, OMC project manager. “We are inspired by the creativity exhibited in the inaugural year for this fund to take innovation to the next level.”

Launched by Inasmuch and the LMA in 2020, OMC is a collaborative of print, digital and broadcast newsrooms working cooperatively to cover pressing issues facing the public.

OMC’s mission is to support and strengthen Oklahoma’s local journalism ecosystem and spur innovation through statewide collaboration that benefits diverse audiences.

In 2021, OMC media partners selected the name “Promised Land: A Supreme Court decision places Oklahoma at a crossroads” for a shared topic. The collaborative will cover the affirmation of tribal sovereignty after the Supreme Court ruling last year.

OMC is working to establish its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax status in 2021.