Website to track border deaths by law enforcement officers wins startup grant

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Washington, D.C. – A Spanish-language website and database to document incidents of undocumented immigrants killed by law enforcement on the southern border of the U.S. is among four media startups to receive a $12,000 grant from J-Lab.
EncuentrosMortales.org is the idea of D. Brian Burghart, editor and publisher of the Reno News & Review, who created FatalEncounters.org, a crowd-sourced database attempting to track police use of deadly force in the United States. EncuentrosMortales.org will collect public records and media reports of undocumented people killed during interactions with law enforcement officers.

“I’m very excited to be able to move forward with EncuentrosMortales.org. Law-enforcement-involved homicides along the U.S. border is an important and underreported issue, and I hope we can bring together technology, languages and volunteers to get a much better idea of our government’s activities,” he said.

The four grant winners named in early February were among 82 applications received in J-Lab’s Masters Mediapreneurs initiative to help seed media startups launched by Baby Boomers, aged 50-plus, J-Lab reported in a press release. The other winners are:

  • Midcentury/Modern, an online magazine “following Boomers into their Third Act,” launched on Medium in late December by hyperlocal news entrepreneur Debra Galant, the founder of Baristanet and now director of the NJ News Commons.
  • The LP-FM New-Media Newsroom, a new FM/web-streamed radio station for New Haven, CT, shepherded by New Haven Independent founder Paul Bass in partnership with La Voz Hispana, the local Spanish-language weekly. Daily four-hour news programs, to start, will be in English and Spanish and feature local African-American hosts.
  • SoKing Internet Radio, daily newscasts to feature content from South King Media company’s six community blogs covering South King County near Seattle. Scott Schaefer, founder of the B-Town Blog and South King Media is leading the project.

“We could easily have funded several more worthy projects,” said J-Lab director Jan Schaffer. “The ideas were creative, the energy striking, and the applicants’ eagerness was quite pronounced.”

The Masters Mediapreneurs program is funded with grants from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism and the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundations.

Participating in the judging the applications were Ju-Don Roberts, Director of the Center for Cooperative Media, Montclair State University; Tiffany Shackelford, Executive Director, Association for Alternative News Weeklies; Jody Brannon, Digital Media Strategist and former National Director News 21, and Jan Schaffer, Executive Director, J-Lab.

J-Lab, founded in 2002, funds new approaches to news and information, researches what works and shares practical insights with traditional and entrepreneurial news organizations.

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