, born at Annenberg, wins Knight Foundation award

By Gretchen Parker, an online video editing platform conceived and developed at USC Annenberg, has won a prestigious Knight News Challenge award – a two-year grant of $200,000 awarded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. 

The awards announced Wednesday are part of a five-year, $25 million international contest to fund digital news experiments that use technology to inform specific geographic communities. In this round, the fourth year of the five-year program, 12 projects were awarded $2.74 million. 

“It’s a nice stamp of approval and automatically shifts the way people view the site as well,” said Nonny De La Peña, co-developer of Stroome. “It opens an extraordinary amount of doors for us, helps us establish our credibility and really helps set the site on fire.”

De La Peña and Tom Grasty conceived and developed Stroome as graduate students at Annenberg and launched it in April. USC will be the first university to license the product, which is a comprehensive and collaborative platform. It will be deployed school-wide across USC Annenberg for use in classrooms, at Annenberg TV News and on, Annenberg’s digital news site.

Stroome’s goal is to present a virtual video-editing studio that will simplify the production of news video. Correspondents, editors and producers will be able to upload and share content, edit and remix with colleagues without satellite truck technology. De La Peña and Grasty also want the site to take full advantage of eyewitness video, captured by mobile phones, as it increasingly becomes a key component of newsgathering. 

“Stroome has the potential to offer a real solution to a real problem in the news business, which is the costliness of satellite trucks, field equipment and editing equipment,” Grasty said. “Now it can all be done in a centrally located, browser-based platform.” 

Stroome is also a social networking site and allows users to exchange comments, build communities and find new collaborators.

Stroome was born as a project Grasty and de la Peña built for the Annenberg Program for Online Communities, a graduate program in new media, Internet marketing and online social networking. Over the last year, the two continued to develop and market the project.

Grasty and de la Peña plan to use the Knight award to build the next version of Stroome, an iteration that will have the ability to live stream and to show videos across new platforms, including iPads. 

“It’s been a labor of love,” de la Peña said. “Tom and I have spent two years just really with our own gumption making sure the site would come into being. Annenberg’s support was crucial. Without Annenberg, we wouldn’t have made it. But now, with the Knight Foundation, we can really make the site move forward properly.”

Knight News Challenge and the 2010 winners