Wick Communications, parent company of the Eastern Arizona Courier and The Copper Era, is partnering with Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication on a project to help combat misinformation and encourage healthy online dialogue.

The Voices Listening Project is among 25 included in the Google News Initiative’s third North America Innovation Challenge. GNI is Google’s global effort to enable work toward quality journalism that empowers news organizations “to demonstrate new thinking in online journalism, better understand their communities and develop new publishing business models.”

This is the second time that ASU and Wick have been awarded GNI funding and the first time together. The 25 projects were chosen from 190 applicants. All the knowledge generated from the projects is shared with the wider industry.

Over the next year, the two organizations will engage with local communities to understand their needs, and research products and strategies that combat misinformation and encourage healthy online dialogue. Three diverse communities in Arizona will be selected for the research.

“This opportunity helps elevate the voices and journalistic needs of Arizonans while engaging in a partnership with Cronkite, a best-of-class journalism school,” Wick Communications CEO Francis Wick said. “We’re eager to take these learnings and help apply them to our own organization to better serve the communities we’re in today.”

The project will also offer a dozen students paid internships to learn audience research and product management skills, both of which are becoming essential in the media industry.

“The partnership with Wick Communications and the Cronkite School continues to spotlight the importance of journalism leveraging the pivotal role it plays in our democracy,” said Battinto Batts Jr., dean of the Cronkite School. “As a global force for change, we are committed to conducting this critical research.”

This is the first large-scale partnership between the two organizations, but each has deep experience in the field of misinformation research.

“We know the rise of online misinformation and disinformation is a fundamental issue for the news business and our society at large,” Wick Communications Digital Audience Editor Reilly Kneedler said. “This innovative partnership made possible by the Google News Initiative will allow us to address this issue head-on. We’re excited to get started.”

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