The Center for Media Innovation’s $20,000 scholarship returns

Press release | Media Innovation Center

Point Park University’s Center for Media Innovation is delighted to announce the return of its $20,000 Doris O’Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship. This is the third year of the fellowship, which has been designed to highlight and tackle the growing problem of underserved media markets, known as information deserts.

“Community journalism is disappearing across the country, and it is essential that we work to reverse this trend,” said Andrew Conte, director of the Center. “At a time when we have more tools than ever to access information, it is becoming increasingly difficult to support local news.”

The Center will also award second and third place prizes of $5,000 and $2,500. The scholarship is made possible by a three-year grant from the Allegheny Foundation.

Since 2004, the United States has lost more than 2,100 newspapers, according to the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Thousands of counties across the country have no daily newspapers, and many have no newspapers at all.

The Fellowship winner will have eight months to report and publish or broadcast the final story or series of stories. Additionally, the winner will be required to travel to Point Park University’s downtown Pittsburgh campus three times, including an event to celebrate their work.

Last year’s scholarship winner, Sunnie Clahchischiligi, a contributing writer for Searchlight New Mexico, won the top prize with her proposal to investigate the potential disappearance of thousands of Navajo Nation students during the pandemic and revealed a myriad of educational failures, which go far deeper than the public knows. Clahchischiligi grew up on a remote farm in the Navajo Nation near Teec Nos Pos, Arizona, and worked in journalism for more than 15 years. His resulting work has been published in Searchlight New Mexico as well as media such as Rolling Stone and The Guardian.

A panel of six distinguished judges with credentials in innovative and investigative journalism will evaluate the nominees based on merit, innovation, commitment, diversity and ability. This panel includes:

  • Brad Bumstedbureau chief of The Caucus, a Pennsylvania-based watchdog publication that focuses on state issues.
  • Andrew Frasereditor of the Wall Street Journal.
  • Jasmine Goldbandphoto editor for the Houston Chronicle
  • amber huntPulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist for the Cincinnati Enquirer and host of the Accused and Crimes of the Centuries podcasts.
  • Conservative Parrishbusiness reporter for Newsday
  • Guy Watenmultimedia editor for the San Francisco Chronicle

Doris O’Donnell, the award’s namesake, 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 the assassination of President Kennedy 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 can apply until March 31 on The winners will be announced in April.

Contact: Lou Corsaro
Point Park University
[email protected]

About the Media Innovation Center:

Point Park University’s Center for Media Innovation is a state-of-the-art incubator and collaborative space designed to prepare students for success in a tech-enabled media industry, while supporting professional journalists and educating the general public. The Center includes television and radio/podcast studios, a photo studio, a multimedia newsroom and a transformational presentation and gallery space. Visit to learn more.

Point Park University, immersed in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, is focused on student success through innovative experiential learning opportunities. Point Park enrolls approximately 3,600 students in more than 100 undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs offered through its Conservatory of Performing Arts, Rowland School of Business, and schools of arts and sciences, communications, and technology. ‘education. University alumni and students represent all 50 states and 34 countries of the world. To visit to learn more.