Leap: ICFJ's News Innovation Lab


About Leap

ICFJ’s goal is to identify the most pressing challenges affecting journalism and its mission to serve the public. Addressing those challenges requires creativity – and the time and support to think innovatively. That’s where ICFJ’s Leap news innovation program comes in.

Leap is a space to explore and shape the unfolding future of journalism.

We are supporting journalism innovators in several ways: 

  • Innovation lab: 
    • Solution Challenges: A 10-week program to explore, design and develop products and learn innovation processes 
    • Hackathons:  Events where developers and journalists can meet and invent together. 
  • Fellowships:   Support for innovators working on tools and products that are helping journalism thrive. 


About the Leap Innovation Lab:

Many newsrooms don’t have the time, infrastructure, or money to invest in experimentation that may not have an immediate payoff. ICFJ’s Leap innovation lab provides a guided, focused experience to ease the risk and cost that inhibits innovation in the newsroom.

Solution Challenges:

Mentors will lead small news teams through a 10-week design sprint and development process to solve a specific problem.

The first program, in partnership with Trusting News, focuses on building trust and transparency in media to better engage and serve communities and provide a beacon of reliable information. For example, what can we build to increase trust in journalism now – and ensure that misinformation and polarization do not find a foothold in future spaces?


How It Works


Explore (four weeks): Two workshops a week with experts in the field to map the landscape, identify needs and introduce new tools to address them.

Sprint (two weekends): An intensive Design Thinking process to rapidly develop and test a project or a product prototype. 

Develop (four weeks)Teams work with mentors to develop their idea enough to integrate into their newsrooms or pitch it to a funder for further development. We will provide grants to build out the best ideas.

Solution Challenge Program Selection Criteria:
We encourage small teams from the same organization to apply together so they can better implement what they create. But we also accept applications from individuals.

Leap is right for you if you are a journalist, technologist or product person who:

  • Can identify a journalism challenge and work to solve it 
  • Likes to collaborate with others 
  • Wants to be a changemaker
  • Is ready to commit at least three hours a week 
  • Is willing to share your product or outcomes with the journalistic community
  • Is fluent in English

Hackathons: Our first hackathon was held on August 25-27 in Buenos Aires, Argentina with participants from Media Party, the largest media innovation event in Latin America. The focus was on how Web3 tools and concepts – especially decentralization, AI and machine learning – can serve journalism.



We’ll provide financial support and guidance for Leap Innovation Fellows to work on tools and products that are helping journalism reinvent itself. Applications for 2024 will open early next year.

Our 2023 Leap Innovation Fellow is:

Chani Guyot, Latin America

Developing the Human Journalism Network, piloted in Latin America, which will expand this year to 20 international members who will contribute and republish stories about the people and organizations that are solving social challenges. The project will be experimenting with a new business model and data tracking tools.


Our 2022 Leap Innovation Fellows were:

Sérgio Spagnuolo, Brazil
Working on PULSE US to monitor and analyze posts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram and TikTok. This tool will focus on US politicians in the run-up to midterm elections. (Sign up here if you’d like to be a tester!) He has developed PULSE tools for connecting scientists with journalists, elevating reliable sources for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and more. 




Tinshui Yeung
Comparing Web3 platforms and tools with more conventional solutions for challenges facing journalism. Are blockchain and NFTs solutions looking for a problem, or do they offer unique answers for journalism in the future? (Contact leap@icfj.org if you would like to be part of this discussion.)

Program Dates:
7/5/2022 - 10/15/2022