Last week, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation officially unveiled the its first round of News Challenge grant winners. I’m honored to say that this roster includes four current (and one former) members of the Tidbits team: Adrian Holovaty ($1.1 million), Rich Gordon ($639,000), Paul Grabowicz ($60,000), and Adam Glenn and myself ($90,000 for a joint project).
According to Gary Kebbel, Knight’s journalism program officer, the 25 winning projects and ideas were selected from 1650 proposals.
News Challenge isn’t your ordinary journalism contest: Knight’s spending $25 million over five years to elicit, develop, and try out new approaches to community journalism — ones that don’t necessarily depend on, but that could complement or even enhance, traditional news organizations. The point, according to a Knight press release, is to support “innovative ideas for using digital news and information to build and bind community in specific geographic areas.”
Normally in Tidbits we try not to mention our own projects too much, in order to avoid the appearance that we’re using this blog (and Poynter’s good name) for self-promotion. However, since Knight’s initiative is particularly innovative and sizeable — as well as potentially groundbreaking and beneficial for all of journalism — the editors of Poynter Online have asked the Tidbits team to publish a series of posts exploring each of the winning projects and ideas. So over the next week or so you’ll see that continuing series here.
We’ll focus on what’s journalistically new or different about each project, how the grantees are getting started, why they think they were selected, likely opportunities and pitfalls — and questions that the grantees have for you, Tidbits readers! We welcome your questions and challenges, too.
Stay tuned. There’s plenty more coming.
Want your own News Challenge grant? Knight will start accepting new proposals for next year’s News Challenge on July 1. I will say from experience that even though many of this year’s winners are established media pros, this program really is open to anyone. Also, Knight’s application process is the least painful and most creative I’ve personally encountered. So if you have ideas, passion, and plans, I encourage you to apply — even (perhaps especially) if you’re not a “media pro.”