Knight Blog

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

A New Health News Delivery Method in 2009

Oct. 31, 2008, 5:33 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Editor's note: This is the first blog post where we are specifically highlighting an innovative project from another funding organization; let us know what you think in the comments. This post is from Gary Kebbel, Director of the Knight Journalism program.

More and more individuals and non-profit organizations are experimenting with new ways to bring important information to the public, using new digital tools or processes. One example is an experiment in getting the public to micro-fund investigative journalism, called Another new investigative reporting site, Pro Publica is relying on a large charitable contribution to fund top-notch professional investigative journalists to write stories that many daily newspapers no longer can afford to do. And now, the Kaiser Family Foundation has created Kaiser Health News, a new, nonprofit health policy news organization that will provide free health policy news content to for-profit and non-profit news organizations.

Kaiser Health News joins and Pro Publica as experiments in how to fund serious journalism. Kaiser Health News is an experiment in niche journalism funded by an interested party, a foundation whose mission is to focus research and grants on the major health care issues facing the U.S. According to the foundation's web site, KHN will be an 'independent news service, to report on the nation's complex health care system and the increasingly urgent political and policy debates surrounding it.' To achieve that goal, journalists Laurie McGinley, formerly of the Wall Street Journal, and Peggy Girshman, now at Congressional Quarterly and formerly of NPR, have joined KHN.

What do you think about the Kaiser Health News experiment in niche journalism?

Knight News Challenge 08: Application deadline is tomorrow, Nov. 1st

Oct. 31, 2008, 5:04 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Don't forget to get your application into the Knight News Challenge site by November 1st at midnight, Pacific Time if you're planning to be part of this year's contest. (Of course, if you're like Lisa Williams, a 2007 winner, you can apply at the last minute--who knows, you might win!)

For more info on the contest, check; if you have a good idea that fits our focus--APPLY.

Announcing Miro Local TV

Oct. 31, 2008, 10:47 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Miro Local TV is a new project from the Participatory Culture Foundation, creators of the popular Internet TV application Miro, to help people find and discuss local online video. The project is funded by a $589,000 grant from Knight.

PCF Founder Holmes Wilson talks about the project:

From the press release:


"Budgets or local TV and print journalism are declining, threatening the vitality of cities and towns," said Nicholas Reville, the foundation's executive director. "But the explosion of viewer-created web video gives us a powerful new way to do local journalism.'


Each site will bring together relevant video from local videobloggers and sites like YouTube, using a combination of automation and expertise from staff at partnering private or public access stations. Curators at the partner station will develop a set of keywords that identify neighborhoods, local landmarks or venues.


Do you want this new local video hub in your town? Tell us in the comments.

MIT Center for Future Civic Media Site Relaunches

Oct. 30, 2008, 11:33 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Congratulations to the MIT Center for Future Civic Media team, a 2007 Knight News Challenge winner (remember, only two days left to apply for this year's contest), on their relaunched Web site.

From the site's about page:


The Center for Future Civic Media is working to create technical and social systems for sharing, prioritizing, organizing, and acting on information. These include developing new technologies that support and foster civic media and political action; serving as an international resource for the study and analysis of civic media; and coordinating community-based test beds both in the United States and internationally.


Sorted by topic in the site's left sidebar, the featured tools from the Center include:

extrACT, an action map of Colorado that "may amplify the effectiveness with which landowners and industry workers can collectively influence gas development policies through negotiation, regulation, legislation, or litigation."

Comm.unity, "a new platform implementing a wireless, device-to-device information system that bypasses the need for centralized servers, coordination, or administration."

Selectricity, "Web-based voting machinery for the masses takes some of the best and most exciting election technology developed for government elections and deploys it in service of everything else. A tool for communities to make better decisions in better ways."

You can also find blog entries and watch the 2007 video or podcast of speakers Chris Csikszentmih'lyi, Henry Jenkins, Beth Noveck, and Ethan Zuckerman on how to define civic media; the Center describes their efforts as "developing the emerging 'Fifth Estate' of participatory news, media, and civic change."

Thoughts on the new Drupal site? Use the Center's contact page or the comments below.

In Memory of Carol Horner

Oct. 27, 2008, 2:47 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Director of the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism at the University of Maryland Carol Horner died last week in the District of Columbia.

The Washington Post quotes Knight Foundation Journalism Vice President Eric Newton:


"Under Carol Horner's leadership, the Knight Center in Specialized Journalism became the gold standard for training journalists to cover complex topics," said Eric Newton, vice president of the journalism program at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. "Because of Carol's work, journalists all over America know how to cover difficult-to-handle topics -- everything from nuclear power to the military to the economy."


View a photo slideshow and find out how to share your memories here.

Knight News Challenge Oct 21 SF meetup packs the house

Oct. 23, 2008, 2:28 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Editor's note: Susan Mernit is directing the Knight News Challenge this year; her thoughts below on Tuesday night's San Francisco gathering.

We had over 70 people at TechSoup for the last (we think) Knight News Challenge meet up of this funding cycle.

SF Meetup for Knight News Challenge

Being in my home base of San Francisco/Bay area was great and the turn-out was impressive--not only because of the size of the crowd but the keen interest in applying most had and the range of skills and interests they represented.

At least two people in the crowd were interested in applying internationally, with groups they work with in other countries; many others had ideas for ways to deliver news within communities, to visualize important data, or to chart and discuss "green" news and issues. Everyone was reminded (just like I am doing for you right now) that November 1st is the deadline and that to apply you need to go to, register, and fill out the forms.

SF Meetup for Knight News Challenge

(Note: Thanks to All About George and rich the editor for the images above.)

News Challenge Countdown: Twelve Days Left

Oct. 19, 2008, 7:07 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Thanks to Rosental Alves, Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and Adam Weinroth of Pluck for two Austin News Challenge meetups last Thursday.

News Challenge is the $5M yearly contest to find innovative ideas about delivering information to specific geographic communities, and the application deadline is November 1st. You can apply online here.

If you're in the Bay Area, join us at the San Francisco News Challenge meetup tomorrow night, Tuesday the 21st at 7pm at Tech Soup (details and RSVP here).

This weekend at Maker Faire in Austin, Texas, we talked with inventors, hackers, and visionaries:

Questions? Should we visit your area next year? Let us know in the comments, and thanks again to everyone we met in Austin--

Announcing the Knight BioInnovation Institute in Akron

Oct. 16, 2008, 8:58 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

The five founding medical and educational institutions (Akron Children's Hospital, Akron General Health System, Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy (NEOUCOM), Summa Health System, and The University of Akron) announced the BioInnovation Institute in Akron earlier this week along with a $20 million grant from Knight Foundation.

Knight CFO Juan Martinez helped put together the plan for the BioInnovation Institute:

Dr. W. Gerald Austen, chairman of Knight Foundation, said he hopes the Institute "will make Akron a world-class center for bioinnovation.'

Per William H. Considine, chairman of the BioInnovation Institute and president and chief executive officer of Akron Children's Hospital, goals of the Institute include:

* Creating a nationally distinctive center of excellence at the intersection of biomaterials and medicine
* Translating leading edge research into life-saving medical devices
* Improving the health of the community
* Rapidly growing annual biomaterials-related research funding across the partners
* Increasing investment by national firms into regional biomedical start-ups and companies
* Increasing employment opportunities for those educated locally and drawing talent from around the globe
* Adding thousands of new jobs in the region by 2018.

For more, please see the press release and the BioInnovation Web site.

What do you think about the new BioInnovation Institute in Akron?

Announced: Austin Meetups for News Challenge This Week

Oct. 13, 2008, 1:29 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

As of now, there are nineteen days left to apply for the Knight News Challenge, the yearly $5MM contest to find innovative ideas about delivering information to specific geographic communities.

To find out more about how to apply and win funding for your idea, join me, Kristen Taylor, this Thursday at one of two meetups in Austin:

This Thursday, 3:30pm at the University of Texas at Austin (Burson Conference Room at the College of Communication building--Room 4.128 in the CMA Building) Map

This Thursday, 7-8pm at Pluck (200 Academy Drive, plenty of parking) Map

Here's the Facebook invite and the Upcoming invite.

I'll also be at the Austin Maker Faire on Saturday and Sunday (details).

Any questions, please let us know in the comments below. And if you would like to work through your idea before you apply, please go to the News Challenge Garage and request a mentor (remember that you still need to apply through the main News Challenge site here).

Great Seattle and Boston News Challenge Meetups; Next, Austin and San Francisco

Oct. 10, 2008, 6:53 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Thanks to the News Challenge winner Lisa Williams of Placeblogger and the Berkman Blog Group for a great Boston meetup last night where we talked about the history of the News Challenge (the $5MM yearly contest to find innovative digital delivery ideas), the Garage site for working through ideas before applying, how mentoring in the Garage works, and brainstorming ideas for this year's contest.

You'll see Steve Garfield and Jason Pramas (Open Media Boston) in the group below as well as developers and thinkers from MIT, Harvard, and Somerville organizations.

Next Thursday, we'll host meetups in Austin and we'll also be at the Maker Faire during the weekend. After that, we'll talk in San Francisco (Facebook invite). We hope to meet you then--

Remember that the News Challenge contest closes November 1st; you can apply here and work through your idea before applying here with a mentor who has won the contest in the past.

Alberto Ibarügen Interviews Microcredit Pioneer Muhammad Yunus

Oct. 8, 2008, 12:17 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

From the archive, Knight CEO and president Alberto Ibarügen interviewed Muhammad Yunus at the Poder Philanthropy Forum on March 12, 2008.

Founder of Grameen Bank Yunus and Ibarügen discussed certainty, freedom, and the dreams of flower children, among other things:

What would you ask Muhammad Yunus?

Boston Meetup Thursday 10.9 at Berkman; Great Vancouver Meetup Monday, 10.6

Oct. 7, 2008, 4:52 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This Thursday at 7pm, join Knight Foundation Online Community Manager Kristen Taylor and the Berkman Blog group at Harvard to discuss your great ideas for the News Challenge. (Map)

We'll focus on your questions and talk about the News Challenge Garage incubator; if you have questions about the meetup, let us know in the comments. Please check the Facebook invite for details.


And, thanks to everyone in Vancouver for a great meetup led by Susan Mernit at Rain City Studios last night.

Great pictures from the event by Tris Hussey are on Flickr here, and there is a new collaborative Barcamp wiki area.

We look forward to seeing what the Vancouver community comes up with, and to meeting up in Boston this Thursday--


Who will fund Investigative Journalism?

Oct. 6, 2008, 5:02 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Jose Zamora is a Journalism Program Associate at Knight Foundation

Investigative journalism helps democratic societies work transparently. When investigations work, they unveil corruption and other obstacles that may hinder the development of a community. But investigative journalism is expensive, and as organizations face difficulties in their business models, it's becoming more difficult to fund.

Investigative Journalism was the topic of this year's Austin Forum, hosted by The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin and the Media Program of Open Society Institute.

The event is dedicated to raising journalism standards in Latin America and the Caribbean. Participants also discussed challenges facing journalism in the region, and ways to overcome them.

Journalists and journalism organizations from 14 countries were represented at the meeting, including participants from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Venezuela.

Investigative journalism challenges in the hemisphere were discussed from different perspectives ' importance, need, quality, risks and funding ' one of the key perspectives was the funding of investigative journalism or how to create a new model for sustainable investigative journalism.

There's a need for a new business model that will allow the existence of this kind of reporting, participants said. But, "Who is going to fund investigative journalism and how?"

The forum showed that throughout the region, media organizations and their newsrooms are doing less and less investigative journalism each day, given the financial constraints news organizations continue to face.

Knight Foundation is partnering in different projects that seek to find a new model for sustainable investigative reporting. Through its Journalism Program, Knight Foundation is searching for alternative business models that will allow this vital form of journalism to continue playing a key role in democratic societies.

One of the new models for financing investigative journalism is being developed through a project called Spot Journalism or "Spot Us." The project will provide a new way to pay for local investigative reporting by "crowdfunding," or soliciting financial support from the public. Crowdfunding will allow an individual or group to take control of news by sharing the cost to commission freelance journalists. It uses the principle of micro lending ' the model used by Kiva ' to fund investigative journalism.

How does work?

  1. An individual or journalist creates a pitch that outlines an untold story in a local community.
  2. Members of your community vote, with their money, on what stories are most important to them.
  3. A journalist researches the facts and puts together an article. Editors provide check-and-balance on the story.
  4. publishes the story in its news feeds and works with local media outlets to have the articles published more widely.

This is one example of how Knight Foundation is trying to find the answer to the question: Who is going to fund investigative journalism? Hopefully, you can help us find other models that will benefit your neighborhood, your community, and the world.

If you want to learn more about what Knight Foundation is doing to help in the search for new business models to sustain quality journalism, please visit us online at the Knight Foundation and the Knight News Challenge Web sites. And if you think you have the new model for sustainable journalism or for investigative reporting apply to the Knight News Challenge today at: If you want to learn more about the Knight News Challenge, the kind of projects Knight Foundation is funding and learn how you can apply, please visit the Knight News Challenge Web site or the Knight News Challenge Garage.

And don't forget that Knight Foundation is having a Meet-Up today in Vancouver and tomorrow in Seattle. You can find details below:


ReportingOn Public Beta Launches

Oct. 6, 2008, 9:31 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

One of the Knight News Challenge projects (the $5 million yearly contest to fund innovative digital news delivery ideas), ReportingOn, has launched in public beta.

ReportingOn's Ryan Sholin describes the service: will be a simple way for journalists to update their peers on the stories they're working on right now. Tag your 140-character-or-less updates with the beat you're on, and find peers reporting on similar beats to make connections, introduce yourself to potential mentors, or discover an unsung hero.


You can follow the ReportingOn project's progress on the microblogging service Twitter and on the ReportingOn blog.

Ready to join the ReportingOn community? Register here. Congratulations to Ryan--

News Challenge Meetup in D.C.; Next, Vancouver and Seattle

Oct. 2, 2008, 9:18 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

On Tuesday night, Netsquared DC chairs Matt Stempeck (pictured below, far right) and Gabriela Schneider rallied over forty people to a News Challenge (the $5 million yearly contest on innovative digital news delivery ideas) meetup at Google's D.C. headquarters.

Matt Stempeck (far right) and attendees at the DC News Challenge Meetup

Local developers and interested community organizers asked thoughtful questions about the News Challenge contest and the News Challenge Garage, the new incubator site to work through News Challenge ideas before applying. Knight looks forward to seeing the News Challenge entries from this area.

The full schedule of upcoming meetups is listed at the bottom of the News Challenge home page.

You can join Susan Mernit and Heidi Miller at next week's meetups:

- Oct 6: Vancouver: 7:00pm - 9:00pm; Rain City Studios, 420-1 Alexander Street, Vancouver, BC (Details).

- Oct. 7: Seattle: 7:00pm - 8:30pm, Location TBD. (Details.)

Look for more information soon about the upcoming Atlanta and Austin News Challenge meetups--