Knight Blog

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

Top Ten Measures of Community-Citizen Engagement

Nov. 24, 2008, 10:02 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Soul of the Community (SOTC) is a three-year study conducted by Gallup of the 26 Knight Foundation communities across the United States focusing on the emotional side of the connection between residents and their communities.

In its first year, the study compared residents' engagement level to the GDP growth in the 26 communities over the past five years. The findings (overall report, reports by community) show a significant correlation between community-citizen engagement and the economic growth. 10 domains that were found to have varying levels of impact in driving community-citizen engagement:

* Basic services ' infrastructure supports (highways, housing and healthcare) * Economy * Safety * Leadership and elected officials * Aesthetics ' physical beauty and green spaces * Education * Social offerings - opportunities for social interaction and citizen caring * Openness/welcomeness ' how welcoming the community is to different people * Civic involvement - residents' commitment to their community through voting or voluntarism * Social capital ' social networks between residents

Social offerings is the most important driver of community-citizen engagement overall. Aesthetics and openness/welcomeness to others also have major influence on community-citizen engagement.

Over the coming years, the researchers will analyze the trends of both community-citizen engagement and economic growth and definitively show whether community engagement drives economic growth or the other way around.

Within a smaller microcosm, such as a company, Gallup has been able to show that increasing employee engagement will indeed lead to improved financial performance.

Gallup and Knight Foundation will conduct the second wave of the survey in spring of 2009. The additional data will help show the impact of the economic crisis on emotional community-citizen engagement.

What parts of this study would you like more information about?

President Bill Clinton to Headline Miami Dream Dinner for Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

Nov. 19, 2008, 12:47 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

MLK memorial

From today's press release:

Leaders of the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc., announced today that former President Bill Clinton will receive the Foundation's 'Humanitarian Award' and serve as the keynote speaker at a January 8, 2009 Miami Dream Dinner to raise funds for Memorial to be built on the National Mall. The dinner will take place at Fontainebleau Hotel and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which donated $1 million to the Memorial Foundation, will serve as the lead dinner sponsor.


President Clinton played a key role in the Memorial's inception and has remained an active supporter. On July 16, 1998, Clinton signed a Joint Congressional Resolution authorizing the building of a memorial and on November 13, 2006 he participated in the Ceremonial Groundbreaking. He has served on the Memorial Foundation's President's Council for several years.

An expected 22 million people a year will visit the tribute to King's transformational impact on the country, and the world.

How would you commemorate King?

Need Help Writing News Releases?

Nov. 18, 2008, 10:42 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Knight has just launched a new site, News Release Workshop to help you write a strong press release.

On the site, you will find example press releases (here's another), a structural worksheet, and why the Flesch Score matters.

Knight News Release Workshop

All site content is under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works license, so we hope you will share it (with attribution, please).

Thoughts? How can we improve the site to make it a better resource for you?

Live Webcast of Knight Commission Chicago Meeting Today

Nov. 17, 2008, 2:53 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Knight Commission member danah boyd posted to Twitter from the Chicago Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy meeting:

Twitter  @zephoria (danah boyd)  I love the Knight Commission meetings. Smart people thinking collectively.

You can watch the live webcast by clicking the top link on today's Commission agenda page.

Do you have thoughts to share with the Commission? Leave a comment below or Twitter @knightfdn.

Placeblogger Relaunches; News Challenge Screeners In Town

Nov. 14, 2008, 12:56 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Congratulations to Lisa Williams and her team on the relaunched Placeblogger site: relaunches

Placeblogger is a 2007 Knight News Challenge winner (the $5 million yearly contest to fund innovative ideas in local news delivery).

The 2008 Knight News Challenge Screening Team is in Miami today to work through all of your great applications. Here's some of the energy in the room today:

Just some of our incredible team of screeners led by Susan Mernit: Debi Jones, Brian Oberkirch, Andrew Hyde, George Kelly, Chris Messina, Beth Kanter, Rosental Alves, Dianne Lynch, Joyce Barnathan...

Reflections from MTV Choose or Lose Street Team Member

Nov. 13, 2008, 11:53 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

MTV Choose or Lose Street Team '08 (a Knight News Challenge---the $5 million yearly contest to fund innovative ideas about local news delivery---project) member Alex Parker wrote this review of his year covering the election for Kansas:

I posted my final video for MTV News' (EMMY AWARD-WINNING!) Choose or Lose Street Team '08, a Knight Foundation initiative that used 51 citizen journalists (hate that term) to cover the youth movement during the election.

This project was rewarding, though sometimes frustrating. But looking back on it, it provided me with skills, insight and ideas that I never had before. I can edit a video like a whiz, our Election Day-tweets were posted on Times' Square HD board and I interviewed Ralph Nader. Pretty cool.


He details other highlights of his year, including embedding with the 1st Infantry Division's Dagger Brigade as they trained for Iraq at Fort Irwin, California, and being linked to by Daily Kos for a story on State Sen. Donald Betts, who "got smoked in the general election."

You can read more of his favorite moments on his blog post.

Spot.Us Launches

Nov. 11, 2008, 12:44 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Knight News Challenge (the $5 million yearly contest to fund innovation ideas in local news delivery) winner David Cohn's project, Spot.Us launched yesterday.

An overview of the project:

As David posted on his blog:


The problem: Revenue.


Journalism is a process not a product, but that process takes time and people who do it professionally need to be compensated.

The Solution: Community Funding.

The process of journalism should be participatory - and perhaps one way it can be made participatory is if the public has the opportunity to commission the journalism they want to see.

Traditionally .001% of the public has a freelance budget to hire a journalist. We call those people "editors." Spot.Us is an attempt to increase the percentage of people that can have an editorial influence.


Congratulations to David and the Spot.Us team; we look forward to watching this project continue to develop--

Announcing Knight Pulse

Nov. 10, 2008, 7:43 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Today, Knight is launching a new community site called Knight Pulse, a place to discuss the future of information.

Knight Pulse screenshot (
Updated: Here's a video introducing the site:

Despite the current explosion of information, we are less informed. And in a world defined by information exchange, we need new ways to give, share, find, and receive information in our communities.

The goal of the Pulse site is to start conversations with a video post and listen as you debate ideas in the comments (and in other places, linking back). The site gives you a chance to develop collaborative projects about information that Knight Foundation may consider funding.

On the site, you'll find information projects that the Knight Foundation is funding, events that foundation staff and Pulse users are attending, opportunities to volunteer, and blog posts about information needs from feeds across the Web.

And you'll find profiles of people like you, who are also interested in improving information delivery--from details about local restaurant inspections (Everyblock) to discovering perspectives from bloggers around the world (Rising Voices).

Join the conversation and let us know what you think of the site--we're using Get Satisfaction and UserVoice for feedback, both on the Pulse 'Widgets' page, or leave a comment below--

The site is built in Drupal, and we are very pleased with the team at Development Seed and their great work on this project.

Rising Voices Nominated for World's Best Blog

Nov. 7, 2008, 10:23 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Knight News Challenge (the yearly $5 M contest for innovative local news delivery ideas that has just closed for this year's cycle) 2007 winner Rising Voices has been nominated for World's Best Blog in the Deutsche Welle awards.

From the Global Voices site:

Global Voices' citizen media outreach project, Rising Voices has been nominated for a 'Best of the Blogs Award' (B.O.B.) in the category 'Best Weblog'. More than 8,500 weblogs were suggested for nomination and a jury selected the final 11 in each of 16 categories. Anyone can cast their votes online for their favorite blogs until November 26, 2008.

Deutsche Welle wish to give special attention to the promotion of freedom of information and expression around the world.

Rising Voices is a project that has provided micro-grant funding for more than a dozen community blogging projects in some of the most under-represented parts of the world (thanks to a grant from the Knight News Challenge).

Through the people in this amazing community, we've learned about social unrest in Bolivia through Voces Bolivianas' bloggers, we've gotten to know the new bloggers in Nakuru, Kenya from the REPACTED project, and in Romania from the Blogging the Dream project.

(Watch this video, and you'll know who to vote for...)


Congratulations to the Rising Voices team of David Sasaki, Rezwan, and Julia Bhatia. Read all the Rising Voices news on the site or the feed, and remember to cast your vote here.