Knight Blog

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

Mario Garcia and Everyblock

Aug. 29, 2008, 10:07 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Spurred by recent comments on our July 31st Knight Blog entry about his work, Mario Garcia posted on the Garcia Media blog yesterday asking readers what they think about four organizations Knight Blog commenter Robert Ivan cited as innovative:

- Rob Curley and The Las Vegas Sun
- Adrian Holovaty and Everyblock
- Alan Taylor and The Big Picture
- The New York Times audio slide shows (NYT Multimedia)

One of the four, Everyblock, is a "news feed for your block" and a Knight News Challenge winner. As we've posted previously, Everyblock continues to add cities to its roster (most recently, Boston, Seattle, and Washington, DC), delivering information about crimes, news articles, and road construction, among other data sets, as well as special reports.

What do you think about these four projects?

As Garcia writes:

Dear readers, as I am not familiarized thoroughly with the innovators mentioned by Robert Ivan, I ask you to enter the dialog and contribute your comments on them, and what you think makes them special. I am sure we can learn tremendously if we profile these cases and benefit from their experience. All of us are interested in reviewing products that have encountered success via experimentation and it is my hope that we can profile these four innovators in future blogs. I need your help to do so! If those involved in these products wish to engage in dialog through this platform, I would appreciate that as well.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and join the discussion in the Garcia Media post comments.

International Journalists' Network Website Relaunches

Aug. 29, 2008, 7:57 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

On Wednesday, the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) website,, relaunched with new tools for their global group of journalists.

Site users are now able to set up a profile and use tools in Arabic, English, Persian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Knight sponsors ICFJ and funds the Knight International Journalism Fellowships; you can apply here and see where Fellows have traveled on the interactive map.

In this video, watch Knight International Journalism Fellow Arul Louis talk with Dr. R. K. Pachauri, director-general of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi about media and climate change.

Per the e-learning post:

Knight International's Louis has been working with TERI to create new online resources for media. With TERI and other partners, he is leading innovative environmental programs for regional journalists in local languages. He also has helped the Indo-Asian News Service expand its environmental coverage.


Also in e-learning, the ICFJ will offer an introductory online course on investigative reporting for Arabic-speaking journalists; applications close September 5th. Details here.

Spot.Us and Crowdfunding in the NYTimes

Aug. 24, 2008, 7:31 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

The New York Times writes about Knight News Challenge (the ~$5 million yearly contest to fund innovative news delivery ideas) winner David Cohn's Spot.Us project today:


'Spot Us would give a new sense of editorial power to the public,' said David Cohn, a 26-year-old Web journalist who received a $340,000, two-year grant from the Knight Foundation to test his idea. 'I'm not Bill and Melinda Gates, but I can give $10. This is the Obama model. This is the Howard Dean model.'


You can contribute to (help "crowdfund") the Spot.Us campaign the article mentions that will check political advertisements in San Francisco for accuracy here (campaign is 89% funded as of this morning). More details about that project are on the Spot.Us wiki.

The article also mentions Knight Foundation Trustee Paul Steiger's new ProPublica organization, which produces "journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them." An interesting ProPublica site feature is the "Scandal Watch" sidebar, where progress on highlighted stories is charted throughout the week; read Friday's summary by Alexandra Andrews.

The NYT article lets another News Challenge winner, Jay Rosen, (who blogs along with Cohn and the other News Challenge winners on the IdeaLab group blog; you can read his entries here) have the last words about alternative reporting models:


'The [traditional] business model is broken,' [Rosen] said. 'We're at a point now where nobody actually knows where the money is going to come from for editorial goods in the future. My own feeling is that we need to try lots of things. Most of them won't work. You'll have a lot of failure. But we need to launch a lot of boats.'


What do you think about crowdfunding?

Milledgeville Municipal WiMax Network

Aug. 22, 2008, 3:07 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

The Milledgeville Union-Recorder ran a story yesterday about the new Milledgeville Municipal WiMax Network, part of a universal access initiative at Knight Foundation.

Milledgeville Program Director Beverly Blake made clear Knight's commitment to connect individuals in physical communities through this initiative:

'The Knight Foundation does not come into a community, say we have this great opportunity, realize it and then walk away,' Blake said. 'Milledgeville made this happen, we're here to help you build this plan for the future.'

Find out more about the Digital Access Initiative here; the Milledgeville article is here.

Questions or thoughts on the Milledgeville Munical WiMax Network?

News Challenge Garage Update and Seesmic Video

Aug. 20, 2008, 12:41 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This week, leading thinkers in digital media will begin to mentor many of the thirty-five projects in the News Challenge Garage, a new incubator site for the News Challenge contest (a Knight media initiative that awards ~$5 million a year to innovative news delivery projects).

You can join the Garage by signing up here; you may also want to follow progress through the Garage news feed and the Garage new project feed.

You can ask questions about the Garage in the welcome blog entry comments, through the contact form, or on Seesmic, a video service where members post short videos and video responses.

Heidi Miller, who is heading up marketing for the News Challenge this year, has posted on Seesmic and others have joined the conversation with their video responses:

Knight News Challenge offers $5MM in fundingPitching bloggers, podcasters and vidcasters! If your audience includes citizen journalists, digital innovators or open source developers, the Knight News Challenge is a not-for-profit contest awarding $5M in funding. If you have a blog or podcast and think your readers/viewers would like to enter, email or comment to sign up to receive information on this year's Challenge to share with your own audience.

Have a question about the Garage? Let us know.

Everyblock, Three New Cities, and the Chicago Way

Aug. 18, 2008, 5:02 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This weekend, the Chicago Tribune ran a story about Knight News Challenge winner Everyblock and its founder, Adrian Holovaty.

And yesterday, the Everyblock project ("a news feed for your block") expanded into three new cities: Boston, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Director of Knight Journalism program Gary Kebbel gives Everyblock background:

Adrian Holovaty won a $1.1 million Knight News Challenge grant in 2007 to create a public data and aggregation site on steroids for at least 10 cities. Called EveryBlock, the sites have launched in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Charlotte. Public databases are pulled together and then made so easily accessible that all anyone has to do is put in a street address to find out what is happening on their block or the next block over.

Holovaty started this work with, which was the first major 'mashup' of public data (Chicago crime reports) on a Google map. The site won the Knight-Batten Award for Innovation and was the beginning of Holovaty's efforts to help people find previously inaccessible information relevant to their lives.

The Tribune article references the Everyblock widget, a small application that has let readers associate a physical location with Tribune stories for the past month.

Also in the article, Holovaty explains how to launch a project from the Windy City:


"There's the dot-com, Silicon Valley, blow-all-your-money-on-booze style," says Holovaty, 27. "Then there's the Chicago thing: Do something, do it well and be modest about it."


Read the entire article here.

What are your thoughts on Everyblock? How would you explain a digital project launched in, say, the DC, Austin, or Vancouver Way?

The Takeaway's VeepStakes on Facebook

Aug. 17, 2008, 10:11 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

The new morning radio multi-platform news program The Takeaway, partially funded by Knight, has recently introduced a game on Facebook (the popular social networking service) called VeepStakes.

Takeaway Web Editor Adnaan Wasey explains the game:

If you already have a Facebook profile, you can start playing the game here.

Look for more seriously fun content from The Takeaway team soon--what do you think about VeepStakes, and what would you like to see the show do more of online?

Beijing Olympics and Press Freedom

Aug. 14, 2008, 12:09 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

In April, Knight sponsored a conference in Paris on press freedom and the Beijing Olympics with Asia Presse (Paris), Committee to Protect Journalists (New York), Human Rights in China (New York, Hong Kong, Brussels), Reporters Sans Frontieres (Paris), World Association of Newspapers (Paris), and the World Press Freedom Committee (Washington, D.C.). There was simultaneous interpretation in Chinese, French, English.

Statements from that conference are here and can be downloaded as a pdf.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) blog has recent posts about the Olympics and Chinese media, including one post on a 21-point directive from the Central Propaganda Department.

Global Voices, the 2006 Grand Prize winner of the Knight-Batten Awards for innovation in journalism, has special coverage of the Olympics from their worldwide network of bloggers (here's the feed and the Twitter feed).

The Global Voices Beijing Olympics page also links to Play the Game for Open Journalism, a site to assist and inform journalists covering the Beijing games.

Other resources? Please leave them in the comments below.

Miami Art Blogging

Aug. 13, 2008, 3:58 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

As we've previously blogged, one section of Knight's annual progress report asks what you think about the Miami arts scene and the new Knight Arts Partnership, a $20 million matching challenge to fund individuals and organizations with ideas for the future of arts in Miami.

I asked Rick of the South Florida Daily Blog (SFDB), who summarizes area blogs, to help us identify art bloggers whose audiences might be interested and have ideas for arts in Miami.

Rick posted an entry on SFDB yesterday (thank you, Rick), asking his readers which art blogs they followed.

The readers suggested a few in the comments (TuMiami, ArtLurker, a new Miami Art Exchange url). We plan to follow up with these blogs, and we've noted Roger L's comment that summer isn't, perhaps, the liveliest season of the Miami art scene.

What you think about the Miami arts scene? Other Miami art blogs you follow?

Tell us in the comments below or on the annual report site.

Madeleine Albright about her spider pin

Aug. 11, 2008, 4:01 p.m., Posted by Marc Fest

Watch the video below to find out why former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is wearing a spider pin at the Knight-sponsored Forum on Communication and Society at the Aspen Institute today.

Madeleine Albright on her spider pin - and the Web from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

danah boyd on e-literacy

Aug. 11, 2008, 2:15 p.m., Posted by Marc Fest

Knight Commission member danah boyd speaks on e-literacy at the Forum on Communication and Society at the Aspen Institute:

danah boyd on e-literacy from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

This conference, sponsored by Knight, brings together some of the brightest minds in media. Below is a partial list of attendees.

  • Madeleine Albright (former Secretary of State)
  • Philip Bennett (Managing Editor of Washington Post Company)
  • Reed Hundt (former FCC chair)
  • Paula Kerger (President and CEO, PBS)
  • Bill Kling (President and CEO American Public Media)
  • Marissa Meyer (VP search and user experience Google)
  • Craig Newmark (founder, Craigslist)
  • Ted Olson (former Solicitor General)
  • Andrew Prozes (CEO Nexis Lexis)
  • Philip Rosedale (founder Second Life)
  • Paul Sagan (CEO Akamai)
  • Cyrus Krohn (runs e-campaign for McCain)
The Paris Hilton video response to the McCain ad definitely got everyone's attention here and has been discussed as one example for the changed nature of media in the 2008 election. I'm posting more detailed conference notes (in a stream-of-consciousness style too lengthy for this blog) at

Video: Marissa Mayer and Ted Olson on Goals of Knight Commission on Information Needs

Aug. 10, 2008, 1:52 p.m., Posted by Marc Fest

Here's a video of co-chairs Marissa Meyer and Ted Olson speaking about the goals of the Knight Commission on Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy. Mayer is vice president of search and user experience at Google. Olson is a former Solicitor General of the United States and a first amendment lawyer.

Marissa Mayer and Ted Olson on goals of Knight Commission from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

What would you like to see the Knight Commission accomplish? Please leave a comment below.

Knight Commission on Information Needs Convenes in Aspen

Aug. 9, 2008, 3:45 p.m., Posted by Marc Fest

I'm at the Aspen Institute for the second meeting of the Knight Commission on the Informations Needs of Communities in a Democracy. The commission explores media policy to meet the information needs of communities in our 21 century democracy. The commission is one of four components of the media innovation strategy at Knight Foundation. The co-chairs are Marissa Mayer, Google's VP for search engine and user experience, and Ted Olson, the former Solicitor General (and a first amendment lawyer).

This morning, Tom Rosenstiel did an excellent presentation on the "State of the Media". He's the director of the Project on Excellence in Journalism. Some of his key messages:

  • The problem is not that audience are gravitating away to unmediated media

  • The problem is the uncoupling of advertising and content (online, advertisers don't need to associate themselves with content anymore)

  • Serendipity plays a big role in news consumption today.

  • The Cronkite line "And that's the way it is" would be a Saturday Night Live joke today.

  • The newsroom is seen as the place for innovation, not the business side of a newspaper operation.

  • TV is not going to provide the information that a community needs

  • Citizen journalism won't do it either, it'll lack the training

  • For communities to thrive, some variation of the newspaper needs to figure out a way to survive.

  • In a news on-demand culture, we still need to know about the things we didn't know we want to know about.

Marissa Meyer made an interesting point, and it's obviously informed by her experience as the Google Search Engine VP:

  • As data sets grow, we are going from a browser to a search model.

  • Search is random. You don't have the usual audience selection.

  • It's harder to target an ad.

  • New media has broken down the atomic unit of consumption (brand -> individual article; individual song)

  • Question: Is the atom of the published article the right atom? Should that atom change?

  • The Wikipedia entry on the investigation of the anthrax scare is one of the best resources on the topic.

  • Instead of publishing static articles, maybe use living articles, pages that constantly change as the atomic unit of news.

Here's a video I took of Marissa explaining her thinking about the changing nature of the "atomic unit" of news consumption.

Google VP Marissa Mayer on the atomic unit of media consumption from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.


Introducing the News Challenge Garage

Aug. 7, 2008, 10:46 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

In the yearly News Challenge contest, Knight Foundation awards up to $5 million to innovators with ideas about implementing new local news delivery mechanisms.

To help applicants before they apply, the News Challenge Garage launches (in beta) today as a place for applicants to tinker with their ideas, assisted by past winners and expert mentors. Here's a video where I explain the Garage:

We've used a video-sharing service called DotSub above so that the video can be subtitled in many different languages--the News Challenge is an international contest and open to everyone.

You can help us get the word out by going to this video on the DotSub site here and subtitling it in another language (thanks in advance for your help).

The video is also here on Flickr, another video-sharing service.

The Garage site was built in Drupal, an open source content management platform by pingVision in Boulder, Colorado.

Questions about the Garage? Leave a comment below or on the Garage blog (here's the feed for Garage updates, and this is the new project feed). Come join us at!

(And, if you're into the feed aggregator service FriendFeed, you can join the News Challenge FriendFeed room too.)

J-Lab Moves to American University with $2.4m Grant

Aug. 6, 2008, 1:53 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

From the press release:


J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism has moved to American University's School of Communication, where it will expand its operations with the help of a $2.4 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to American University.


J-Lab helps journalists and citizens use digital technologies to develop new ways of participating in public life. J-Lab provides award and seed money to professional journalists, citizens, and new media entrepreneurs for innovations in journalism and community news startups; builds e-learning Web sites for interactive and citizen journalism; and engages in training and research.

'I am excited that we have the opportunity to expand our programs in a place as full of energy and focus on innovation as AU's School of Communication,' said Jan Schaffer, J-Lab's executive director and one of the nation's leading journalism reform thinkers. 'Our new affiliation is a good fit for J-Lab's mission, which is to help transform journalism for today and reinvent it for tomorrow.'

At its new home, J-Lab will use the Knight grant to:

* Renew the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovation in Journalism.
* Fund 16 additional New Voices citizen-media projects.
* Create eight to 10 Knight Citizen News Network learning modules and update J-Learning, J-Lab, and J-New Voices Web sites.
* Launch five Networked Community News pilot projects, teaming five newspapers with citizen media outlets in each of their communities.
* Build a Community Media Toolkit to help foundations fund, vet, support, and measure local media projects.
* Ramp up knowledge sharing with a Re-imagining Journalism project.

J-Lab's J-Learning and the Knight Citizen News Network are Web-based, comprehensive community journalism instruction programs; its McCormick New Media Women Entrepreneurs project provides seed funding and support for original news ideas proposed by women; and the New Voices project provides start-up funding and instruction for pioneering community news ventures in the United States. The Knight-Batten Awards recognize innovations in journalism and are one of the profession's most prestigious honors.


What do you think J-Lab should prioritize?

Knight Progress Report: Miami Arts

Aug. 4, 2008, 3:38 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Part of the annual progress report, Knight Foundation asks what you think about the Miami Knight Arts Partnership.

Bonnie Clearwater, executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, explains some of their recent work in this video:

'We've gone from about 100 arts groups to more than 1,200 in the past two decades,' said Lorenzo Lebrija, Knight's Miami program director. 'It shows a real growth and maturing of Miami's creative community.'

What do you think about arts in Miami? What would you like to see funded in the Knight Arts Partnership?

Leave a comment below or on the progress report site.

Commenting on Gulf Coast Recovery Efforts

Aug. 1, 2008, 12:19 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Analyzing Knight Foundation's efforts in the Mississippi Gulf Coast, reporter Dick Polman writes,

Today, nearly three years after the storm, and with expenditures thus far totaling roughly $10 million, Knight Foundation can rightly point to a string of achievements - most notably, its crucial role in bringing world-class planners and architects to the afflicted region, and prompting citizens to chart new communities in ways they had never before imagined. Yet at the same time, political, cultural and financial obstacles have impeded recovery on virtually all fronts. In the words of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who is praised for his recovery efforts even by political foes, "It's all been way too slow to suit me."

Here's a recent comment on the article by James W. Cromwell:

...After reading your article I have a different perspective of some of your good intentions that your foundation had for the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. But I think you have been hoodwinked by the business men of these communities into believing that your monies were being used to help the citizens when it was really being used to help big business...

Adele Lyons, Knight Program Director for Biloxi responded:

...A long-term recovery after a hurricane like Katrina takes many organizations working together. We have worked with several of the funders you noted including the Twenty-First Century Foundation, OxFam, Ford Foundation and Foundation for the Mid South. We work together as part of the Gulf Coast Funders for Equity. Several of us helped organize the Funders' Forum for Sustainable Gulf Coast Transformation held in September 2007.

We wanted to know what happened after Katrina. In the first few days, Knight Foundation made emergency grants to the Salvation Army and the Red Cross totaling $1 million to help with the relief efforts. Relief was slow to reach the East Biloxi citizens. Additional emergency grants totaling $110,000 went to several small, local nonprofits. And, of course, many of our grantees continue to work in East Biloxi...

See the East Biloxi grantee list and both comments in their entirety here.

Find more of Knight's "Stories of Transformation" here.