Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Get with the program: Developing an action plan for successful cities

April 18, 2014, 9:08 a.m., Posted by Carol Coletta


Photo credit: Flickr user Forgemind ArchiMedia.

If you’ve ever hired an architect to design a project, you probably spent a lot of time up front talking about the “program” for the project. The program describes how you want to use the space and the activities you want the space to support. If you are renovating a home (as I am currently), you might say, I want to make sure I have space that meets my needs for work I have to do at home or encourages me to do sit-ups when the mood strikes.

The same is true of the buildings and public spaces that make up a city. All of these places can be programmed to encourage and discourage certain behaviors.

Take, for instance, offices of the latest tech firms. They are all designed to encourage employees to meet and mingle serendipitously so that they share ideas. Co-working and incubator spaces are usually heavy on social areas, too.  

Or take New York under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The mayor passionately promoted the concept of “active design” to promote physical activity and health through design.   

Journalism awards: Let a thousand bloom

April 18, 2014, 9:07 a.m., Posted by Eric Newton


Photo credit: Flickr user Tony Hammond.

Every year about now journalism contest winners spring up like a riot of crocuses (the Pulitzer Prizes the best example) and my thoughts float back to the Oakland Tribune.

Critics of journalism awards say they are too many – like best baby contests or even dog shows – to mean anything.  But I can remember a time when even the smallest award helped keep us going at the Trib. Picture a city wracked by an earthquake (1989) and an urban firestorm (1991). Chunks of our advertising and readership lost to natural disaster, the Tribune was a flat-broke daily paper before it was fashionable.

Our newsroom was talented. Yet it had taken pay cuts. It was ambitious. But it might be out of business in a month or even a week. It was wonderfully diverse, yet incredibly young. We experimented but without money.

Say what you will about prizes. They helped. We won more than 150 awards for our journalism from roughly 1986 to 1992 when I was city editor, assistant managing editor and managing editor at the Trib under Bob and Nancy Maynard, the first African-American couple to own a major mainstream paper.

What we learned from the first-ever OpenNews Code Convening

April 17, 2014, 12:40 p.m., Posted by Ryan Pitts and Dan Sinker


The following blog, written by Ryan Pitts and Dan Sinker, is cross-posted from

When we talk with newsrooms about open-sourcing their work, often the response we get is that they’d love to, but deadline pressures keep the last-mile work and documentation that signifies a good open-source project on the to-do list. So at OpenNews, we came up with a simple proposition: What if we free up that time by getting developers out of the deadline grind? Let’s put them up for a few days, feed them, and help get the work done.

Last week, we brought eight news developers to Portland, Oregon, to pilot the concept. We’re calling these type of get-togethers “Code Convenings,” and last week’s was the first of many that OpenNews will organize over the next three years. We had developers from the New York Times, NPR, ProPublica, WNYC, Al Jazeera America, and Github, and together they released:

·       Pym.js: An NPR library enabling responsive iframes for embedded graphics

·       PourOver and Tamper: A New York Times library and protocol pair that let you quickly filter datasets with thousands of records, right in the browser

·       Landline + Stateline: A ProPublica tool for creating easy SVG maps that work across all browsers

·       FourScore: A WNYC graphic template for capturing reader sentiments in an elegant 2D chart

Each team has introduced their projects here on Source, and we also wanted to share our own process and things we learned from this event.