Knight Blog

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

Reynolds Foundation expands support for ASNE high school journalism initiative

Dec. 30, 2009, 12:49 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

For the past decade, the Knight Foundation has been a supporter of the American Society of News Editors' High School Journalism initiative. This week brings the announcement that the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation will help to support this project well into the next decade.

A $4.6 million grant from the Reynolds Foundation will fund five years of Reynolds High School Journalism Institutes for educators, extending the training that Reynolds has supported since 2007. From the news release:

During the two weeks of training, 175 competitively selected journalism advisers are steeped in journalistic practices and responsibilities, ethical decision-making and news media freedom issues, plus learn to maximize online and digital platforms and integrate new technologies. In the past three years, 434 teachers were accepted to the Institute. Of this group, 232 (54 percent) taught at schools where young people of color were in the majority, and 86 (20 percent) identified themselves as people of color.


Every key expense is covered by the grant, including transportation, housing, meals, continuing education credits and instructional materials. This removes financial barriers for the majority of teachers who otherwise could not afford to pay for this kind of specialized training or who work in disadvantaged school districts.

'We couldn't be more pleased to see this important program further supported and expanded,' said Jessica Goldfin, Journalism Program Associate at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. 'These journalism educators have the opportunity to impact hundreds of students, not only improving how these kids view journalism, news and the First Amendment but also helping to spark a lifelong appetite for quality journalism.'


As an added bonus, this news gives us the opportunity to throw in a plug for the stellar (and growing, see traffic graph at right), a fantastic resource for high school journalists and their educators.

About Knight Blog

Dec. 29, 2009, 8:23 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

The KnightBlog is maintained by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

This blog is moderated by the Online Community Manager at Knight Foundation and blog authors include: Knight Foundation staff and guest bloggers from other foundations, journalism organizations, projects Knight Foundation funds, and friends of the foundation.

Knight's Library Initiative expands to 20 cities

Dec. 23, 2009, 2:27 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Courtesy of Flickr user a  data-cke-saved-href=Courtesy of Flickr user Paolo M'rgari

When we last wrote about Knight's Library Initiative, it was a $3.3 million effort to empower libraries in 12 communities to become true information centers for their communities, with expanded wifi access, mobile computing labs, job-hunting assistance, digital literacy training and more. Today, Knight's announcing an expansion of that effort - the Foundation will distribute $5.5 million to' 20 communities around the country:

Strengthening residents' ability to use the Internet to improve their lives, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will help libraries in 20 U.S. communities enhance digital access and training.


The effort is part of the foundation's $5.5 million Library Initiative.' Launched in October, Knight is expanding it to eight additional communities, the foundation announced today.

In October, the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy released its report, finding that libraries are critical to a community's information infrastructure. Today's grant announcement signals Knight's commitment to helping usher these institutions into the digital era.


New Texas Tribune Video Series

Dec. 22, 2009, 1:27 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

With an election year coming up, The Texas'Tribune is'targeting candidates for governor'in a new kind of political video series,''Stump Interrupted."

New kind of video?'Reporters at the Knight investigative reporting grantee' "mark up" the speech by fact-checking what's being said. You need to see it to understand.'Click play.

Stump Interrupted: Bill White

--'Marly Falcon, Knight Foundation contributing blogger

Knight Foundation supports Huffington Post Investigative Fund

Dec. 22, 2009, 11:47 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

The Huffington Post Investigative Fund has been busy since its launch earlier this year. It's produced more than 50 stories, including an investigation of fraud in the subprime lending industry, a helpful guide to financial regulatory reform proposals, and a look at the challenges of implementing electronic records in the health-care system. It's partnered up with investigative journalism heavyweights such as the Center for Public Integrity, ProPublica, and American University's Investigative Reporting Workshop.

And now Knight Foundation is a partner as well. Today, we announced a $200,000 grant to support the Fund's operations, joining an illustrious crew of partners that includes the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, Atlantic Philanthropies, the Markle Foundation and of course, the The Huffington Post.

"The Huffington Post is an ideal partner for Knight Foundation," said Knight's President and CEO Alberto Ibarügen. "They are entrepreneurial and care passionately about meeting the information needs of communities." He added: "As a media leader, few are as innovative as Arianna Huffington. She believes in freedom and practices it. She believes in journalism and has hired outstanding investigative reporters and editors. And she believes in the power of technology to change the world for the better."

The grant is a part of Knight's $15 million Investigative Reporting Initiative, announced this year at the annual convention of the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization. You can read more about that Initiative here, and read more about today's grant in the news release.

Sexual assault on campus: New center investigation

Dec. 17, 2009, 12:39 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

After nine months of research, the Center for Public Integrity, a Knight grantee, uncovered problems in higher education's handling of sexual assault cases. The Center surveyed scores of campus clinics and' interviewed'students'who filed unsuccessful criminal charges for being sexually assaulted.

According to the investigation, 'those who do come forward can encounter mysterious disciplinary proceedings, closed-mouth school administrations, and off-the-record negotiations.'' CPI is launching a series of pieces on how sexual complaint cases are handled on college campuses. It is also trying to raise awareness and draw attention to this dilemma by encouraging student journalists to report on how their school deals with sexual assault allegations.

The Center estimates as many as 15 million Americans have heard about this investigation through its many media partners. The Center provides this guide for students interested in running their own campus investigation.

--'Marly Falcon, Knight Foundation contributing blogger

Cash for Clunkers: Where Did All the Money Go?

Dec. 17, 2009, 12:30 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Dante Chinni, project director for the Knight-funded Patchwork Nation, released a report showing which groups got the cash in the government's cash for clunkers program. Based on federal data, the nearly 700,000 cash-for-clunkers transactions took place in and benefited three community types: 'Monied 'Burbs,''where the educated and wealthy live; 'Boom Towns,' the growing and diversifying'communities, and 'Campus and Careers,' where the young and collegiate people live.

Communities with high populations of African-Americans or with socially conservative counties saw fewer benefits.

--'Marly Falcon, Knight Foundation contributing blogger


Knight Foundation funds open up data: Example, Afghanistan

Dec. 17, 2009, 11 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Guest post by Bonnie Bogle, general manager of operations at Development Seed.

Visualization of results from the recent Afghan election

This morning launched, providing an open data and open government vantage point into a controversial'election.

The site is a data browser that shows the raw results from the August 20th presidential election in Afghanistan, using the data released in mid-September that gave Karzai a 54% lead.

It was first'used internally by the National Democratic Institute to help their team plan for a runoff election, which was called off, and make assessments about voting patterns. With planning already beginning for a new round of Afghan elections for the provincial council (Wolesi Jirga ) this coming year, NDI decided to open up this application to the public to allow everyone to see the problem areas in the country and to start a dialog around how to reduce fraud and increase participation the next time around.

The main underlying tool that powers this site is, which was funded by the Knight Foundation this summer and just released in September. This is a great example of why we invest in open source applications - we never know who is going to build off them to make the next great site.

Check the site out in detail.

5 ways the government could help journalism

Dec. 15, 2009, 10:45 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Eric Newton, VP of Knight Foundation's Journalism Program, recently spoke at a Federal Trade Commission workshop on how journalism will survive the digital age. At a moment when the potential role of government in supporting journalism is being discussed, Eric listed five examples of policies the government could adjust to help a new journalism ecosystem flourish. Some snippets:

Public media. A lot of the government money that flows to public media is status quo money. Not good enough. [...]


Nonprofit digital startups. Our old rules don't treat them fairly. Tax rules make it hard to switch to being a nonprofit, or a L3C. [...]

University journalism. Students everywhere are showing they can do great journalism. (By the way, if the nation's 200,000 journalism and mass communications students spent just 10 percent of their time doing actual journalism, that would more than replace the journalism lost in the past 10 years from the elimination of jobs by badly run news businesses.) But our old rules don't treat student journalists fairly. [...]

The government itself is a huge producer of mass media today. But in general not a very good one. For the most part, local, state and national government can't seem to use the new technology to do a better job obeying its own freedom of information laws, not even on the people's web sites that it now runs. [...]

Read the full piece for the fifth (and most significant) government policy Eric calls for. You can also read the rest of the testimony from the FTC's future of journalism workshop.


NewsCloud Study Shows Facebook as a Tool for Transferring News

Dec. 15, 2009, 8:36 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Not only is Facebook a great place for social networking, it's also a great tool for transferring news.

A NewsCloud experiment proves young people will participate in and contribute to a news and information community that goes where they live and share.

Jeff Reifman, founder of NewsCloud, created a Facebook site to distribute environment news from Grist, a site that provides environmental content daily, and another to distribute daily campus news from the University of Minnesota's newspaper, The Daily. .

The environmental news site, Hot Dish, allows users to read, rank, annotate, post, create, share and discuss climate change topics.

The application also includes an Action Team feature where users can earn points for prizes by meeting specific challenges. For example, users can earn points by sharing a story, posting a blog entry, being active in their community through volunteering, recycling, taking part in an environmental event, etc.

The grand prize winner won a trip to Greenland by persuading their gym to start recycling plastic bottles, having three letters to the editor published, and recycling an old washing machine.

The Hot Dish site had about 2,000 registered users and 346 agreed to be part of the research project.

Nearly three-quarters of the group surveyed said they used the Hot Dish site to interact with like-minded people. According to a NewsCloud report, users saw the site as a place where their views and contributions were more welcomed than in other Web sites.

According to Reifman, more than two-thirds of the content was contributed by users of the site during the two month period.' More than 2,300 comments were written, 1,500 stories were written, 4,500 stories were shared and about 1,200 eco-challenges were submitted.

This study indicates that social networks are a good way of getting young people involved with current events and community issues. Not only did the study inspire users to post articles and write comments on environmental issues, but also to actually do something about those issues.

This could definitely be a stepping stone for publications and other media that want to increase user engagement and interest.

The study also tested the distribution of news using University of Minnesota's student newspaper, The Daily. Although the outcomes were not as successful as Hot Dish's, the lesson learned is that timing and good marketing for a campus audience are essential for obtaining enough data for a study.

Follow the link to learn more.


Why the International Center for Journalism work matters

Dec. 14, 2009, 3:44 p.m., Posted by Michele McLellan and Eric Newton

When the Berlin Wall fell, optimists happily predicted 'the end of history.' The'post-Cold War world would see unparalleled freedom, with a wave of media development unrivaled in human history. Well, it didn't happen that way. The world remains an erratic, unsure place, by both press freedom and media development measures. 2009 sometimes looks suspiciously like 1989.

'The world needs new media development leaders. Knight Foundation's biggest international grantee, the International Center for Journalists, is becoming just that. ICFJ's president, Joyce Barnathan, is the chair of the Global Forum for Media Development, with 500 members in 100 countries.

ICFJ runs the Knight Journalism Fellows Program. Its tightly target approach is attracting many new partners. Gates Foundation funds Knight fellows, $4 million so far. Other funders support $3 million in Knight fellows.

What makes the Knight Fellows so important? They do more than just train journalists. They accomplish specific things: producing high-impact stories, or new investigative reporting organizations, or new journalism schools or new freedom of information centers.

How does ICFJ know where to work? An international group of advisors identifies the world's best media projects,'ones that will create lasting, visible change, and matches fellows from anywhere in the world to those specific opportunities.

A little money can go a long way. $200,000 for a training fellow for one year in Kenya equaled $7.5 million in new government spending on health care because the stories done moved the community to action. In Indonesia, great reporting helped stop the dumping of medical waste. In Uganda, it saved lives with better vaccinations, in Bangladesh, it helped save more lives with cleaner water.

Why care about all this outside America? Because the modern world is turning into one very big city. Bad health reporting on one side of the planet can lead to a killer flu coming right into this room. Journalism in a connected world matters. Here's the press release announcing $6 million over three years to extend the Knight International Journalism Fellows. And here's where you can suggest a project or apply for a fellowship.

-- Eric Newton is the vice president of the journalism program at Knight Foundation.

$6 million for Knight International Journalism Fellowships

Dec. 10, 2009, 3:23 p.m., Posted by Marc Fest

Knight Fellows at work in the Philippines

Knight Foundation will give $6 million for the high-impact Knight International Journalism Fellowships program run by the International Center for Journalists. Eric Newton, vice president of Knight's journalism program, explains what's unique about the Fellows this way: 'The fellows train the journalists who write the stories that move societies to improve the lives of their people.' And they do it all over the world.

Next year, Knight Fellows will launch:

  • New investigative units at leading news organizations in the Middle East.
  • A Web site that will map citizen reports on corruption so that Panamanian journalists can expose abuses.
  • A new online association in India dedicated to improving transparency, making government data easily available to journalists for the first time.

ICFJ's news release is here. And more information about the Knight International Journalism Fellowships is here.