Knight News Challenge

Knight wants to help fix the Internet

Knight Foundation | The Verge | The Guardian

The first Knight News Challenge of the year asks: “How can we strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation?”

Knight, with help from the Ford Foundation and Mozilla, is offering $2.75 million for the winning ideas. The challenge aims “to attract a broad range of innovative ideas from journalism, policy, research and education.”

The challenge comes just after Verge Managing Editor Nilay Patel wrote a much-passed-around essay called “The Internet Is Fucked (But We Can Fix It).” Its thesis: “the internet is a utility, there is zero meaningful competition to provide that utility to Americans, all internet providers should be treated equally, and the FCC is doing a miserably ineffective job.”

Patel is skeptical that the market can address these problems on its own, because of lack of competition among Internet providers. Read more


Knight News Challenge announces $2.2 million grant for projects that ‘unlock the power of health data’

Knight News Challenge

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced it would award $2.2 million to seven projects that “harness the power of data and information for the health of communities,” the foundation announced Tuesday. From a press release:

“By addressing the vital area of health each winner highlights the transformative impact that data, when used correctly, can have on communities,” said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president of journalism and media innovation. “In this way, the projects tackle real-world problems while opening up opportunities for people to explore new ways to apply data — within the health sphere and beyond.”

The winning projects include Positive Deviance Journalism from Solutions Journalism Network, which, according to the press release, will collaborate with newsrooms “and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation to scan data sets for examples of positive health results that can lead to important stories.” Tina Rosenberg of Solutions Journalism Network described to Justin Ellis how it plans to use the money. Read more


Knight pledges more than $3 million to winners of government transparency challenge

Knight News Challenge

Eight projects from the Knight Open Gov news challenge will divide the money, including the Oyez Project, which gets $600,000 to expand its collection of summaries and transcripts from Supreme Court cases to include information from federal appellate courts.

Oyez Project from Knight Foundation on Vimeo. Read more


Knight News Challenge winner will make historical election data easily accessible

The winners of the latest Knight News Challenge announced today include a collaboration between developers at The New York Times and The Washington Post to create a free, comprehensive database of past U.S. election results.

New York Times interactive news developer Derek Willis and Washington Post news apps developer Serdar Tumgoren are working together on the project, named Open Elections. Their employers are not officially involved, but are supportive of the idea.

How could journalists use this data once it’s available?

In an interview, Willis suggested merging the elections data with demographic data to examine how changing population patterns have affected voting trends. A journalist could show one candidate’s base of support shifting across multiple elections. The data could even provide simple context for a daily news story, such as quickly looking up the last time a Republican won a certain office. Read more


Knight News Challenge funds 6 projects focused on networks

The Knight News Challenge is giving more than $1.375 million to six projects that use networks in different ways to solve journalism problems.

Two of the winners announced Monday address issues on opposite ends of the journalism process:

  • The Tor Project will work on tools to help people in dangerous and politically repressive parts of the world publish and communicate safely with sources.
  • will enable news sites to track which stories and topics are gaining traction on their websites and their competitors’.

Monday’s announcement marks the completion of the first News Challenge contest since it shifted from an annual contest to three times a year.

Under the old system, nine to 10 months passed between the time that a project was submitted and Knight cut a check. Read more


51 entries move on to next round of Knight News Challenge

Knight News Challenge
The judging for the first of the thrice-annual News Challenge contests is going quickly. This one focuses on networks. Judges have whittled the list of entrants from 1,078 to 51. The contest page says: “Included in this 51 are the five applications that generated the most chatter on Tumblr: AmautaCont3nt, the Unconsumption Project, and PreScouter.

Other projects by people I recognize: Read more


Knight News Challenge to hold three contests a year to keep up with pace of innovation
The Knight News Challenge will continue beyond its initial five-year run, shifting to a shorter cycle of three contests per year rather than one. “The innovation cycle is so short that ideas can get old in the annual contest,” Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president of the Knight Foundation, told Rachel McAthy of after he addressed the World Editors Forum in Vienna. Each contest may focus on a different area, such as mobile, he said. Google, which contributed $1 million to the 2011 winners, will continue to support the contest. || Related: From crowdfunding to data-driven journalism, four ways the Knight News Challenge is shaping the future ( || Earlier: Knight News Challenge gives $1.5 million to projects that filter, examine data ( Read more


Knight News Challenge winners announced

Romenesko Misc.

Sixteen projects that push the future of news and information will receive a total of $4.7 million in funding. The 2011 Knight News Challenge winners are:

* Adaptive Path (San Francisco) for iWitness; $360,000; Jesse James Garrett, project lead
* The Associated Press (New York) for Overview; $475,000; Jonathan Stray
* The Awesome Foundation (Boston) for The Awesome Foundation: News Taskforce; $244,000; Tim Hwang
* Chicago Tribune for PANDA; $150,000; Brian Boyer
* Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) (Columbia, Mo.) for DocumentCloud Reader Annotations; $320,000; Aron Pilhofer
* The Kiwanja Foundation (Palo Alto) for FrontlineSMS; $250,000; Sean McDonald
* Media and Place Productions (Cambridge, Mass.) for Zeega; $420,000; Kara Oehler
* The Miller Center Foundation (Charlottesville, Va) for The State Decoded; $165,000; Waldo Jaquith
* El Mostrador (Santiago, Chile) for Poderopedia; $200,000; Miguel Paz
* NextDrop (Berkeley) and Hubli-Dharwad (India) for Nextdrop; $375,000; Anu Sridharan
* Open Knowledge Foundation (Cambridge, England) for Spending Stories; $250,000; Martin Keegan
* The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (Cambridge, Mass.) for The Public Laboratory; $500,000; Jeffrey Warren
* ScraperWiki (Liverpool, England) for ScraperWiki; $280,000; Francis Irving
* The Tiziano Project (Los Angeles) for Tiziano 360; $200,000; Jon Vidar
* University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) for OpenBlock Rural; $275,000; Ryan Thornburg
* Ushahidi (Orlando) for SwiftRiver; $250,000; David Kobia

Steve Myers reports the Knight Foundation is directing almost a third of its $4.7 million in grants this year to help journalists and the public organize and analyze data and documents. Read more


Knight News Challenge gives $1.5 million to projects that filter, examine data

The Knight Foundation is directing almost a third of its $4.7 million in News Challenge grants this year to help journalists and the public organize and analyze data and documents.

In different ways, several of these projects seek to solve the persistent challenges of journalists working on investigative and daily stories: how to make sense of vast amounts of data and find the stories within.

“Journalists are now drowning in documents and data,” said Jonathan Stray, interactive technology editor for The Associated Press. “The tools we have to deal with this are actually pretty primitive.”

Stray’s project, Overview, will develop advanced, open-source tools to help journalists tackle these real-world problems. Overview will use data visualizations to help journalists explore data, discover relationships among them and zoom in for a closer look. Read more

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From crowdfunding to data-driven journalism, four ways the Knight News Challenge is shaping the future

As the Knight News Challenge prepares to announce its fifth group of winners today, we looked back at the previous four years, in which 63 projects received nearly $22 million.

The Knight Foundation has spread that money around, including academic research, software tools, urban hyperlocal reporting and basic information needs in developing countries.

In reviewing the winners, we identified four areas of now-rapid innovation in which News Challenge projects have pushed new approaches for journalism: Crowdfunding, the hacker-journalist, data as news and citizen journalism.

“Our goal is to be important; our goal is to have impact and to make a difference,” Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president for the Knight Foundation, told me.

Of course, when you make dozens of bets on startups, some won’t pay off. Read more

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