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Point Park University's Center for Media Innovation

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Journalism outlets around the country have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University will be offering support with the return of the $20,000 Doris O’Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship. The fellowship, now in its second year, was designed to spotlight and take on the growing problem of underserved media markets known as news deserts.

With the goal of making an even bigger impact, the fellowship this year also will award second- and third-place prizes of $5,000 and $2,500. The fellowship is made possible through a three-year grant from the Allegheny Foundation.

The fellowship winner will have eight months to produce and publish or broadcast the final story or series of stories. In addition, the honoree will be required to come to Point Park University’s Downtown Pittsburgh campus three times, which includes an event to celebrate their work.

A panel of five distinguished judges with credentials in innovative and investigative journalism will evaluate applicants based on value, innovation, engagement, diversity and ability. That panel includes:

Penny Abernathy, a former executive at The Wall Street Journal and New York Times who is now the Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina. She is the author of “The Expanding News Deserts,” a major report that documents the decline and loss of local news organizations in the U.S.

David Folkenflik, a media correspondent for NPR News, and host and editor of On Point from NPR and WBUR, Boston’s NPR station. His stories and analyses are broadcast throughout NPR’s newsmagazines, including All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Here & Now.

Amber Hunt, an investigative reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer. She is part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team at the Enquirer, where she also hosts the podcast “Accused,” an award-winning true crime serial that reached No. 1 on iTunes and has 20 million downloads to date. She’s written six books, including the New York Times bestseller “The Kennedy Wives.”

Brentin Mock, a Pittsburgh-based staff writer for CityLab, a standalone website from Bloomberg Media that explores trends shaping our country’s urban future, and captures the creativity and vibrancy of our increasingly urbanized world.

Carl Prine, former editor of the Navy Times, who covered the invasion of Iraq for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and was later deployed to Iraq as an Army guardsman. Prior to the Navy Times, he covered the military beat and breaking national news at the San Diego Union-Tribune. In 2012, Prine won an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for “Rules of Engagement,” a report on a 2007 incident in which U.S. soldiers shot three unarmed deaf Iraqi boys.

Doris O’Donnell, the namesake of the award, was a pioneering journalist who began her 50-year career during World War II for the Cleveland News. She joined the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1959, covering the Sam Sheppard murder trial that inspired “The Fugitive,” and traveling to Dallas for the aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination and the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. O’Donnell was hired by Richard Scaife in 1973 to write for the Greensburg Tribune-Review. She worked there for 15 years before returning to Cleveland.

Journalists and media outlets are encouraged to apply. Applications must be submitted by Tuesday, July 14.