Knight Blog

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

New journalism building compared to the U.S.S. Enterprise

May 30, 2008, 3:07 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Vice president of communications Marc Fest relates the state of journalism to the new Star Trek movie, Under Construction, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Knight Hall journalism building at the University of Maryland on May 21, 2008.

What do you think the current state of journalism is like?

N2Y3: NetSquared Conference, Year 3

May 30, 2008, 10:09 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This week, Trabian Shorters, V.P. of Communities at Knight Foundation, and I attended the NetSquared conference in San Jose, California. (Knight Foundation was a conference sponsor.)

In its third year, the NetSquared conference tightly programs two days of sessions on how to use social media tools like Flickr, the popular photo-sharing service, along with the real draw: twenty-one project presentations competing to be voted into the top three, with award money and the prestige of "winning" NetSquared.

The twenty-one projects are organized into broadly thematic panels (mapping, aggregation tools), and trends this year included specific asks to extend existing sites and databases with geolocative details, mobile interfaces, and formatted public data.

Most impressively, between sessions and in the hallways, conversation exploded. Presenting to an audience of their peers, the panelists fielded smart questions and excitedly announced finding technical help, calling out other conference attendees and thanking them. After panels, longer and more technical conversations often continued into the hack room, which became the Second Life Mixed Reality event on the second day.

This is a video I took between sessions and between conversations:

Bravo to the NetSquared team for creating a brief incubation of sorts where all projects could hone their ideas and grow from the interested and invested community gathered.

For more, see the conference agenda, blog entries, Flickr pool, and Twitter account.

Full Scholarships for Programmers-Developers to Study Journalism at Northwestern

May 27, 2008, 2:42 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Professor Rich Gordon blogged yesterday on IdeaLab (the group blog of Knight News Challenge winners), about six open full scholarships for programmers to study journalism at Medill School at Northwestern University.

The entire post is here, and Gordon asks for thoughts about the scholarship pitch and the concept in general. Commenters are weighing in about how to increase applicants and how to promote the opportunity.

What do you think? How could we increase applications for these full scholarships for programmers and developers to study journalism at Northwestern?

Share your thoughts by commenting on the original post (comments have been turned off below).

News Challenge Winner David Cohn Interviews Fellow Winners Martin Moore and Ryan Sholin

May 23, 2008, 5:27 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

At Knight HQ, we think of the Knight News Challenge winners as part of a special community, so we were delighted to see 2008 winner David Cohn's recent video interviews of fellow News Challenge winners Martin Moore and Ryan Sholin from the Editor and Publisher conference in Las Vegas last week.

David Cohn's project,, will let communities fund specific journalism reports. (Watch David talk about his project in yesterday's post.)

Below, David interviews Martin Moore, who is working with Sir Tim Berners-Lee on a project about transparent journalism through the Media Standards Trust organization.

And Ryan Sholin is working on a project called Reporting On, which will let reporters talk to each other as they report; David talks with Ryan about the Reporting On project, cycles of sharing, and feed readers.

Thanks, David, for posting these interviews.

What questions to do you have for these three winners?

Noted Elsewhere: Knight News Challenge Mentions

May 22, 2008, 4:20 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Last week in Las Vegas, sixteen 2008 Knight News Challenge winners were announced and a total of $5.5 million was awarded for ideas to innovate digital information delivery.

President and CEO of Knight Foundation Alberto Ibarügen noted in a Wall Street Journal interview (linked to from Mashable,, and Poynter's Romenesko) that he wants to experiment even more, characterizing a rising trend of mobile funding as a place to "begin."

Two mobile News Challenge projects, Bev Clark's Freedom Fone (a news database accessed by mobile devices in Zimbabwe) and Joel Selanikio's News on Cellphones project (news delivered on less expensive mobile devices), were congratulated on the MobileActive blog. Both organizations are part of the MobileActive community.

Below, Bev and Joel explain their projects at the Editor & Publisher conference last week. (Note: This is casual footage shot with a Flipcam.)

Fellow winner David Cohn, whose Spot Journalism project will "crowdfund" freelance journalists to cover important stories through micropayments, has already generated a line of questioning on entrepreneur Rick Burnes's blog.

Cohn addresses thoughtful queries about how his project can promote an open marketplace instead of a press release factory in the comments.

This is how David explained the phases of his project last week at Editor & Publisher in Las Vegas:

What questions do you have about the News Challenge and these projects?

(More News Challenge projects will be featured on this blog in coming weeks.)

Knight Digital Training at UC Berkeley

May 21, 2008, 5:09 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This week, the Knight Digital Media Center at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism presents a week of intensive workshop training for journalists in multimedia.

Mark Glaser of MediaShift (a blog the Knight Foundation supports), is live-blogging some of the workshops.

From MediaShift posts, find out about the Christmas Tree approach to incorporating multimedia, why UC Berkeley journalism school new media director Paul Grabowicz advises "print might be going away but not text," how video should be part, and not all, of a specific piece, why RAW format isn't necessary for the web, and try building this Flash template that "will help you do the interactivity for about 90% of Flash designs."

The Center offers more tutorials here.

What other topics would you like to see covered at a multimedia training week?

Knight News Challenge Widget: Coming to Sidebars Near You

May 20, 2008, 11:26 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

For the Knight News Challenge (our $25 million, five-year contest that rewards ideas and projects that use digital news or information to inform and inspire geographic communities), we've made a News Challenge bingo widget for you to grab and put on your Web site.

Correctly match the name of the winner with their grant sideways, vertically, or across to win (our admiration). For more details on how to really win a News Challenge grant, check the site and interact with the winners on the new Ning (social network).

To grab the widget, click 'share' on the right side at the bottom in either the large bingo game:

Or the small bingo game:

What other types of Knight Foundation content would you like to share with friends online?

Please leave us a comment and show us where you put the bingo game on your site.

Knight News Challenge Winners Announced

May 19, 2008, 10:48 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Last Wednesday, the Knight News Challenge winners were announced at the Editor & Publisher/Mediaweek Interactive conference in Las Vegas.

Knight Foundation president and CEO Alberto Ibarügen chatted with one of the winners, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, after the announcement; inventor of the World Wide Web, Berners-Lee is working with Martin Moore on a transparent journalism project.

Alberto Ibarügen talking with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, one of the Knight News Challenge award winners

The full details on all sixteen grants are here.

Video from all the winners explaining their projects, as Bev Clark does for her Freedom Fone project below, will be posted on this blog this week.

This year's winners will also join last year's News Challenge winners blogging for IdeaLab.

Fans of the News Challenge and these projects can join the News Challenge Ning social network to interact with the winners.

Bev Clark talks about her Knight News Challenge project, Freedom Fone

Roofing, Attic Elves, Throw Weights, and "Habititis" in Biloxi

May 16, 2008, 12:44 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Roofing Image by Knight Workforce Performance and Development Manager Tom Pitmon.

Knight Foundation employees are in the final days of the Biloxi build, and the Habitat for Humanity Web site quotes a few of us in yesterday's daily diaries section.

Biloxi ' Roofing isn't the only hot job. Crews of twos and threes worked at each house to put insulation in the attics ' a job that left volunteers sweating through their t-shirts. Pilar Guzman Zavala, 29; Camila Domonoske, 19, and Julie Brooks, 40, handled the attic insulation at 607 Roy Street Wednesday. The trio earned the sobriquet, 'The Attic Elves' for their ability to navigate the tight space.

Zavala and Brooks are both employees of the Knight Foundation, this year's platinum sponsor for the Carter Work Project. 'We're getting a workout up there,' Brooks said. She described the tightrope walking they have to do to avoid stepping on the drywall, and to navigate the beams as some 'quality gymnastics exercise.'

Pascagoula 'Jennifer Hebert hasn't lived on the Gulf Coast since she was a girl, but her first home was in Lafayette, La., and one of her parents is from New Orleans. 'I watched the hurricanes happening on TV,' said the South Florida resident, 'and I saw the devastation happening to my people. I'm a city girl, but I had to come out here, come back home, to do my part.' ' Shala Carlson

Pascagoula ' Volunteer Paula Ellis of Miami, Fla., has been conducting an experiment since the roof went up on the Habitat house where she is volunteering this week: what's the easiest beverage to toss up to her fellow workers? 'I do better with the Gatorade,' she said, after a few failed attempts to get a water bottle up to the roof. 'Gatorade has a better throw weight.' ' Shala Carlson

Pascagoula'Jessica Goldfin, a 23-year-old first-time Habitat volunteer from Miami, Fla., was well warned about the infectious enthusiasm that runs rampant at the Carter project. But still she succumbed.

'I've got Habititis,' she said, shrugging her shoulders. Her first time volunteering won't be her last. ' Teresa K. Weaver


Best wishes to all of the Habitat volunteers this week; here at Knight Foundtion HQ, we look forward to more stories, pictures, and video (posted here next week) upon your return.

More Dispatches from Biloxi

May 14, 2008, 10:04 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

The building continues in Biloxi at the Habitat for Humanity's 25th Annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project, and Knight Foundation colleagues are sending back pictures and video of the first few days.

group effort

For most of the houses, Journalism Associate Jessica Goldfin writes, the homeowner is working as part of the build crew, "which is really inspiring and cool."

For the house Jessica is working on, the future homeowner Christine commented on Monday, "Wow, this is my bathroom," and, later, "it is starting to look like my home."

Builders are also leaving messages for the homeowners on the structure itself; so the walls will talk--or whisper, perhaps, of the efforts volunteers made this week and their best wishes for the homeowners.

the writing on the walls

Many of our number were able to meet Jimmy Carter, including Knight Foundation president and CEO Alberto Ibarügen:

(video by VP of Communications Marc Fest)

And, find out from our embedded blogger Anne Corriston what tool beginning Habitat volunteers use most, and what she said to President Carter last night.

What would you write on the walls of a Habitat house you were helping build?

Habitat for Humanity's 25th annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in the Gulf Coast

May 12, 2008, 8:35 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This week, thirty Knight Foundation employees are working alongside thousands of other volunteers constructing and rehabilitating houses in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Knight Foundation is directly sponsoring eight houses, and we'll be posting video and updates from those eight houses all this week.

One Knight Foundation program director, Anne Corriston, is blogging her experience here; in the past few days, she has been moved by messages of hope, impressed by veteran Habitat volunteer skillsets, and wary of pig boots.

Below, Leah Witmer, who manages special Habitat projects in the Gulf Coast region, describes her job and how excited she is about thirty new houses.

Have you volunteered with Habitat for Humanity?

Leave tips and encouragement for the build crews in the comments below.