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Facebook Support Launches News Co/Lab at ASU to Improve Public Understanding of News, with McClatchy as Its First Newsroom Partner

October 3, 2017

Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication today launched News Co/Lab, a collaborative lab aimed at helping the public find new ways of understanding and engaging with news and information. News Co/Lab’s initial funder is the Facebook Journalism Project, and McClatchy is its first news media partner.

The Facebook Journalism Project’s support is a direct outgrowth of the “News Literacy Working Group” that convened last March at ASU. The gathering included experts from around the world who seek innovative approaches to fighting misinformation. Dan Gillmor, director and co-founder of News Co/Lab, spearheaded discussions at the ASU-Facebook gathering to focus not only on the “supply side” of the news equation but also the demand side.

“The launch of News Co/Lab at ASU is a great step forward in accelerating the growth of news and media literacy,” said Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnerships. “We are proud to work with the Cronkite School to establish this important effort to develop and expand innovative tools for news-literacy-friendly newsrooms.”

The lab’s first project, in collaboration with launch partner McClatchy, will help newsrooms work with their communities to develop innovations that increase transparency, engagement, mutual understanding and respect. Three McClatchy newsrooms will participate, with the Kansas City Star as the lead newsroom, and two to be announced later.

“We are delighted to partner with Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and Facebook to develop innovative ways to strengthen news literacy and build trust between citizens and newsrooms,” said Craig Forman, president and chief executive officer of McClatchy. “We know that local news is essential to thriving communities and the results of this timely and important collaboration will guide not only McClatchy newsrooms, but also serve as a best-practices template for the media industry.”

The lab will be based in the Cronkite School, a national leader in journalism education. Eric Newton, lab co-founder and the school’s innovation chief, will work with Gillmor and other lab staff on projects. Cronkite News, the student-powered news division of Arizona PBS, will be a test bed for lab experiments.

Over time, the lab plans to work with a variety of partners, from educators, librarians, and technologists to community groups and newsrooms of different types and sizes.

“The News Co/Lab aims to promote and accelerate the best work already being done, and to try out new ideas that can help in scalable ways,” Gillmor said. “Our long-term goal is to collaborate with anyone who wants to make critical thinking, honest conversation and reliable news part of our information ecosystem in communities of all kinds.”

"We deeply appreciate Facebook and The McClatchy Company for their support in launching News Co/Lab," said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School, university vice provost and Arizona PBS CEO. "The lab fits perfectly with the experimentation, innovation and engagement we practice at Cronkite News."

About Facebook and the Facebook Journalism Project
Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.

The Facebook Journalism Project was created in January 2017 to establish stronger ties between Facebook and the news industry. FJP focuses on three pillars: collaborative development of new products; tools and trainings for journalists; and tools and trainings for people.

About McClatchy
McClatchy is a leading publisher with 30 media companies in 29 U.S. markets, providing local communities with award-winning news and advertising services in a wide array of digital and print formats. Celebrating 160 years, McClatchy is headquartered in Sacramento, California, and listed on the New York Stock Exchange American under the symbol MNI. From the Miami Herald to the Sacramento Bee, McClatchy tells the stories of America.

About the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
The Cronkite School at Arizona State University is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier professional journalism programs. The School’s 1,800 students regularly lead the country in national journalism competitions. They are guided by faculty comprised of award-winning professional journalists and world-class media scholars. Cronkite’s full-immersion professional programs give students opportunities to practice what they’ve learned in a real-world setting under the guidance of professionals.