Knight Foundation announces winners of prototype grants

Knight Foundation

A button that allows readers to “do public good,” a service that alerts readers to incorrect articles that have been shared on social media and a database that allows Massachusetts journalists to monitor court cases are among the projects that were awarded Prototype Fund grants, the Knight Foundation announced today.

The winning projects will each receive $35,000 that will allow them to experiment before moving on to more expensive phases of development, according to a release from the Knight Foundation.

Knight chose the projects partly because they are each useful contributions to news and information, and partly because they represent interesting ideas that merit more exploration, said Chris Barr, a media innovation associate for the Knight Foundation. The fund aims to kickstart promising concepts in their nascent phases and bolster projects that could serve as innovation labs for the media and information industries.

“We think of this as a little bit of an R and D opportunity for the media space,” Barr said.

The Knight Prototype Fund, which was created in 2012, requires projects to go through a six-month experimentation period that begins with a course on human-centered design. At the end of this phase, teams developing the projects come together for a demonstration day hosted by the Knight Foundation.

Barr declined to pick a favorite prototype grantee (that would be like “asking a mother who her favorite kid is”), but he said each of the projects will help the media and information industries innovate in the future.

Here are some of the grantees:

  • The Virginian-Pilot won a grant for its project “Pilot for School,” a targeted digital system that aims to let teachers search through newspaper content that aligns with state standards.
  • Public Good Software received a grant for its project “Do Public Good Button,” a feature that will allow readers to make positive changes after reading news articles — for example, someone reading about homelessness might use the button to connect with shelters and food kitchens.
  • Will Knight won a grant for Facto Bot, a service that alerts readers to incorrect articles shared on social media.
  • MassINC was awarded a grant for its Public Database of Massachusetts Court Records, which will allow journalists to monitor court cases through an online filing and database system.

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