The Online News Association has awarded the University of Wisconsin’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication a $35,000 grant to focus on Wisconsin water quality and supply issues.

Katy Culver, associate director of the Center for Journalism Ethics and a journalism professor, said UW was one of 125 journalism programs that applied for the association’s Challenge Fund Grant and is one of the 12 to receive the grant.

The project is titled The Confluence: A Live News Experiment Covering Wisconsin Waters. According to a university statement, the project will be a convergence of work by students and local news outlets. The project also stems from the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism‘s Water Watch Wisconsin project.

“I hope this project will accomplish a lot,” Culver said. “Specifically, I hope there will be more coverage of water quality and supply issues in the Wisconsin community and to engage different communities in conversation about this project and its mission.”

Culver said journalism students will play a very large role in the project, as its purpose is to bring a new kind of experience to education.

Greg Downey, director of the school, said in the statement the project is an example of the Wisconsin Idea in action.

“This is just one of the many benefits UW has reaped from our school’s innovative collaboration with the nonprofit, nonpartisan Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism,” Downey said in the statement. “The power of our combined expertise brought this crucial funding to Wisconsin and to our students. Now that funding will help us to better serve the public interest. That’s the Wisconsin Idea in action.”

According to the statement, journalism professionals will work with students on different aspects of the project.

Culver said the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has already begun its research, and student work on the Confluence will begin to be published when classes begin in the fall.

“The river is already flowing,” Culver said.

[Photo by Jeff Miller/UW Communications]