New York Public Radio, StoryCorps among 2014 Knight Prototype grantees

A rejiggered phone booth from New York Public Radio, a mobile app produced by StoryCorps and a public-records data tool from the founder of FOIA Machine are among the 16 recipients of grants from this year’s Knight Foundation Prototype Fund. The foundation’s annual contest awards six-month, $35,000 grants to help recipients develop early-stage media ideas. Winners were announced Thursday. “While six months and a $35,000 grant might not always be enough to finish version one of a project, it can go a long way towards validating an assumption, developing a minimum viable product or identifying a need to revise an approach,” Chris Barr, a media innovation associate with Knight, wrote in a release. This year’s pubmedia and nonprofit media prototype grant winners include:

Talk Box, a New York Public Radio project to turn select New York City phone booths into “a direct, two-way line to the New York Public Radio newsroom.”
DIY StoryCorps, a mobile app from StoryCorps that will allow users to record and upload stories on their own, without visiting a StoryCorps booth.

Possibility of native ads on pubradio sparks concern

DENVER — A public radio station’s foray into native advertising, which seamlessly integrates paid content into a website’s editorial fare, stirred strong opinions at a July 10 session at the annual Public Media Development & Marketing Conference. Attendees packed the room to hear about plans for native advertising on the site of Southern California Public Radio in Pasadena, Calif. The broadcaster received a $33,000 grant in April from the Investigative News Network and the Knight Foundation to experiment with native advertising, also known as sponsored content. Over the six-month pilot stage, which ends in December, SCPR will develop a native-advertising framework for online and mobile platforms. “SCPR believes that the framework emerging from this grant will map out the common ground between the interests of its audience, underwriters, and journalistic principles,” INN said in a statement about the grant when it was announced. “At its conclusion, the organization will be much closer to determining whether sponsored content is a viable revenue stream for mission-driven, nonprofit content producers.”

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, native advertising encompasses “paid ads that are so cohesive with the page content, assimilated into the design, and consistent with the platform behavior that the viewer simply feels that they belong.”

In experimenting with native advertising, SCPR joins nonprofits Voice of San Diego and the Texas Tribune, which began placing native ads on their websites this year.

WNYC’s new feature lets listeners create, download playlists

New York Public Radio’s WNYC recently beefed up its mobile app with a personalization feature allowing users to generate playlists of news content that can be downloaded for listening on the subway or places where their phones go offline. The “Discover” feature of the WNYC mobile app lets listeners curate stories about topics that interest them — such as technology, pop culture or movies — into playlists of lengths ranging from 20 minutes to three hours long. The app pulls both local and national news stories, downloading batches of segments for later listening. The feature was designed to target the city’s subway riders, said Thomas Hjelm, chief digital officer at New York Public Radio. “It started with the thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was an app you could use for a 30-minute subway trip?’”, he said.