Knight Blog

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

'How News Companies Can Change' Panel and Alberto Ibarügen's Conversation at WeMedia

Feb. 28, 2009, 7:31 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Video from the Wednesday's panel on "How News Companies Can Change" at WeMedia with Jennifer Carroll, Gannett; Neil Budde, Daily Me; Jan Schaffer, J-Lab; Solana Larsen, Global Voices:

And highlights from Knight President and CEO Alberto Ibarügen's Thursday's WeMedia conversation with Allison Fine:

Thoughts on any of the points the speakers raise?

Poynter on Knight CEO Alberto Ibarügen's WeMedia Interview

Feb. 27, 2009, 12:29 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Bill Mitchell posted on Poynter this morning (full post):

As more than 200 staffers of the Rocky Mountain News got the painful news that their paper would close Friday, a similarly sized group at the We Media conference was listening to the Knight Foundation CEO Alberto Ibarügen describe some of what's emerging to replace the fading established media.

But he began with a discussion of what's being lost, and pegged it to geography: "For the first time in the history of the republic, the delivery of news and information is not happening in the same space as democracy."

Unless somebody can devise a sustainable geographic model for journalism, he argued, the United States needs to figure out "how to structure democracy in a different way not rooted in geography."

Read the entire post here.

Knight Arts Challenge Applications Due March 2nd Online

Feb. 27, 2009, 11:32 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Online applications for the Knight Arts Challenge, a community-wide contest to fund the best art ideas in South Florida, are due March 2nd (apply here.)

Last year, Knight Foundation awarded $8 million to 31 groups ' such as sculptors, musicians, prominent institutions and recently formed galleries.

There are three rules (more explanation in the FAQ):

1. The idea is about arts.
2. The project takes place in or benefits South Florida.
3. You find other funding to match the Knight Foundation grant.

More in this CBS4 article and the below video by Sam Rega and Josh Miller:

Questions? After reading the FAQ, please leave a comment below.

Roberta King Interviews Alberto Ibarügen on Community News

Feb. 23, 2009, 11:26 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Last week at the Knight Information Needs of Communities media learning seminar, Roberta King of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation (one of the winners of the Knight Community Information Challenge--here's the full list of winners, and Grand Rapids will establish four neighborhood news bureaus as part of their winning grant--interviewed Knight President and CEO Alberto Ibarügen.

You can follow Grand Rapids Community Foundation on their @GRCitizenNews Twitter account.

Twitter from @GRCitizenNews "Video interview w/ Alberto Ibarügen"

White Paper from Knight Media Learning Seminar

Feb. 23, 2009, 10 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Entrepreneur Susan Mernit attended last week's media learning seminar on information needs of communities, leading a breakout session, and has graciously written a white paper called "The Social Media ToolBox" for all community foundations thinking about the best ways to include social media.

You can find "The Social Media Toolbox" white paper (pdf) in the resources on the infoneeds.org site; more video from the gathering in the event blog.

Next Steps for Elevate America

Feb. 23, 2009, 9:34 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Jorge Martinez is Director of Information Systems at Knight Foundation. Below, he writes about Elevate America and Knight's role in funding this project starting in 2007.

In 2007, Knight Foundation provided $250,000 to support a digital literacy program begun by the City of Miami. Elevate Miami was designed to help the elderly and young in our city's underserved populations acquire the technology skills necessary to be an engaged citizen in today's world.

Knight funded Elevate Miami's Rites of Passage program. A collaboration between the City and Miami-Dade Public Schools, it provides the families of 6th graders that maintain high academic standards throughout the school year and pass technology skills training, with a new computer and access to the Internet. The program awarded new computers to 600 families in 2008.

At yesterday's US Conference of Mayors meeting, Elevate Miami was singled out as a national role model for how public-private partnerships can work to bridge the digital divide in our cities, with Microsoft announcing a new program that will provide software and technology training materials to local governments and non-profits, to replicate the success of Miami's program on a national scale, titled Elevate America.

Knight Foundation created the Knight Center of Digital Excellence to provide convenient, affordable, high-speed access - and its corresponding benefits in education, healthcare, economic development and government access to our communities. We welcome Microsoft's entry, and look forward to building upon the work begun in Miami-Dade, by accelerating the adoption of digital literacy skills necessary to make our vision a reality.

What do you think about Elevate America?

MLS2009: 'Understanding impact - information and communities'

Feb. 21, 2009, 9:25 a.m., Posted by Robertson Adams

by Mayur Patel

Facilitator: Mayur Patel, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Scribe: LuAnn Lovlin, The Winnipeg Foundation

Information and Digital Media

Citizens require relevant, contextual and authentic information to run their lives and to manage their communities. Information can also be a creative and powerful tool for achieving social change. But how do we evaluate whether our media and communications projects make a difference in the world, how do we make our projects more effective and how can we learn lessons for the future? These questions formed the main part of the discussion during the breakout session.

Information and communications projects cover a wide variety of activities, including TV, radio and film, telecommunications-based projects, broadcast campaigns and web-based projects.

In evaluating the progress and impact of these activities, our approach should be guided with the end user in mind (ordinary citizens, communities, organizations or policymakers); be inclusive of all participants and contain credible and accurate information.

Our Challenge

There are several practical difficulties involved in evaluating the impact of information and communications projects.

  • The goal of these projects, which often includes outcomes such as greater public awareness, increased dialogue and empowerment are difficult to measure objectively, especially when compared to projects that provide direct services, such as education, health and housing.
  • It can be difficult to define a specific target audience for a media initiative (some projects are geographically defined, whereas others involve wider forms of broadcasting).
  • Social change often happens slowly, which makes it hard to capture a project’s impact over a short period of time.

Understanding Social Change

During the breakout session, participants discussed how to adapt traditional logic models to the area of information and digital media, namely: a) how to conceptualise the linkages between outputs, intermediate and final outcomes, and b) what leading indicators reveal whether a project is on track to achieve success. Depending on the particular project these might include:

  • Outputs: the launch of a website; adoption and utilization rates; levels and depth of distribution within a community; the establishment of strategic partnerships with other organizations, e.g. newspaper, community centers etc.
  • Intermediate Outcomes: increased dialogue on a particular issue within a community; analyzing site traffic peaks during times when local issues are discussed; greater collaboration between different members of a community; higher levels of deliberation.
  • Final Outcomes: changes in public awareness of local issues; changes in individual attitudes or behaviour; greater social inclusion; the formation of new advocacy related efforts or organizational practices; changes in local state policies.

Tracking Online Behavior

The discussion about outputs and activities focused on the need to capture online patterns of behavior. Increasingly media projects make use of web-based technologies and social media tools, which provide us with the opportunity to track a variety of indicators of people’s behavior. These include:

  • The number of unique visitors, frequency of visits, time spent on site, depth of visits; referring URLs; natural search results; number of registered users; responses from the blogging community; technorati authority ranking; number of RSS subscribers; conversions of visitors to contributors on the site etc.

Organizations can use several free online tools and statistical packages to capture and analyse these indicators, including Google Analytics, Woopra (especially useful for less trafficked websites, such as blogs) and CrazyEgg, among others. However, measuring clickstream data does not capture people’s levels of engagement and does not provide insights into why members of a community are using a website, are they completing what they set out to do and are they satisfied? For this qualitative data is important. Here a few tools have emerged, which allow organizations to survey their website visitors, e.g. 4Q. The next step, understanding whether, and how, levels of online engagement lead to offline action in communities remains an ongoing challenge.

What have we learned so far?

At the close of the session, four principles were highlighted to guide evaluations of information and communications projects:

  1. Capture real time feedback – increasingly information projects have an online component, involving the use of social media tools and web-based technologies. This provides us with an opportunity to analyze the formation of new relationships, conversations and networks, provided that we’re actively looking out for these activities.
  1. Recognise the importance of outputs­­ - social change takes a long time, and so we should be sure to value a project’s ability to achieve particular milestones. These outputs should be thought of as set of leading indicators of a project’s potential success in the long run. In setting these outputs, think about what would reveal whether a project was on track to have the greatest possible chance of success.
  1. Flexibility is key – given the rapid pace of technological change, the field of information creation, sharing and gathering is constantly evolving. This makes it difficult for projects to anticipate potential obstacles. Organizations and foundations should be cognisant of these challenges.

Community Information Challenge Winners Recognized

Feb. 18, 2009, 9:58 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This entry was originally posted on the infoneeds.org site along with other posts about the event that concluded yesterday.

At the closing session, Knight Foundation President and CEO Alberto Ibarügen asked three of the Community Information Challenge winners (see the full list) to speak about their grants.

Minneapolis Community Foundation:

San Antonio Area Foundation:

Community Foundation of Greater South Wood:

Congratulations to all the winners.

Meeting Information Needs Panel at MLS2009

Feb. 17, 2009, 11:33 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This entry was originally posted on the infoneeds.org blog for the Miami seminar on Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy. Find more on the site; the seminar continues until this afternoon.

Moderated by Paula Ellis, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Knight Foundation, three community foundation leaders shared their experiences.

Andrea Baz'n of the Triangle Community Foundation talked about balancing history and future with community foundation strategy:

Josie Heath of the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County talked about a shared future if not a shared past:

Paula Ellis talked about the current conversations about journalism in service to history:

An audience member talked about the upcoming launch of the game Ruby's Bequest about community and donorship:

Emmett Carson of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation talked about ageism and its detrimental effects:

And all the panelists talked about where their leadership journey has taken them:

Comments or thoughts for the panelists or other attendees?

Serious Games Panel with area/code at MLS2009

Feb. 17, 2009, 8:54 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This was first posted on the event site, infoneeds.org. Find more video and previous posts there. The event continues until this afternoon.

Last night, Kati London and Kevin Slavin of the serious game development firm area/code talked about how games can change how we live in the real world.

Kevin talked about the "fundamental cognitive shift" games have produced:

He also talked about the role of games in culture in response to an audience question:

and making games social:

Katie presented three projects addressing specific information needs, including this one, called "Ant City":

And Kevin reminded everyone that games have to be fun:

What did you think about the panel?

Videos on Staffing, Disinformation, and Demographics from MLS2009

Feb. 16, 2009, 5:33 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

From the infoneeds.org blog for the Information Needs event today and tomorrow in Miami, video from this afternoon's session with media experts Amy Webb, Bryan Alexander, and Richard Cardran below.

Amy Webb of Webbmedia Group was part of an afternoon panel on current trends in media.

Here she talks about why not to just go by demographics when evaluating the potential audience:

And fellow panelist Bryan Alexander on how to deal with disinformation and use media to draw the community together:

Richard Cardran, Bryan, and Amy on how to find staff to implement media strategy:

This is Amy Webb's presentation link; links from other panelists will be listed in the comments later.

Gwen Ifill on Her Role, Criticism, and Commentary; Alberto Ibarügen on Digital Citizenry

Feb. 16, 2009, 2:51 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

200 representatives from community foundations have gathered in Miami today for the Media Learning Seminar on Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy.

More video and images will be available over the next few days. From the keynote session at noon, some video below from Knight President and CEO Alberto Ibarügen and Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor of "Washington Week" and senior correspondent for "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer", just spoke about her new book, The Breakthrough: Politics in the Age of Obama.

Gwen Ifill on how she sees her role:

Gwen Ifill on how she felt about the criticism before the debate:

Alberto Ibarügen on the citizen power of digital access:

Knight News Challenge Review Team Meets in Miami

Feb. 16, 2009, 12:02 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

On Friday, this year's Knight News Challenge review team met in Miami to review the finalists. The esteemed group spent the entire day in heated discussions, debating the merits of the vetted proposals (this is a different group than the News Challenge screeners that met twice earlier in the contest cycle).

The Knight News Challenge Reviewer Team meets in Miami

Look for more news on this blog, in the @knightfdn and @knc08 Twitter streams, and on the News Challenge site. Exciting details to come--

How Can We Best Support News Entrepreneurs?

Feb. 13, 2009, 1:16 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

How do you think news entrepreneurs should be supported? USC Annenberg thinks a new boot camp is one way (deadline to apply: February 16).

There are a few days left to apply for the upcoming News Entrepreneur Boot Camp May 16-21, 2009 in Los Angeles, CA at USC Annenberg; independent entrepreneur Susan Mernit asks USC Annenberg's Vikki Porter about their upcoming News Entrepreneur Boot Camp.

Deadline February 16, 2009 (apply here)

What do you think news entrepreneurs need to be successful? Would you apply to be of this book camp? Why or why not?

Shorty Awards Fly at Galapagos

Feb. 12, 2009, 7:03 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Last night, Knight Foundation sponsored the Shorty Awards (#shorty), which recognized notable users of the popular micro-blogging service Twitter at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, New York. (Knight press release)

Some of the highlights in the video below:

Congratulations to the winners.

How do you do think Twitter and other micro-content services could be used for innovative projects delivering news and information?

You can leave a comment below or tweet @knightfdn.

Crossroads Charlotte Premieres

Feb. 4, 2009, 3:07 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Last night, four films showing possible futures for Charlotte, North Carolina were screened at six different area locations as part of Crossroads Charlotte, a project funded by Knight.


Image by Justin Ruckman

Justin Ruckman blogged:


Writer Alan Moore famously said in the Watchmen that the best way to engage your audience in a piece of fiction was to start out with the most tragic thing you could imagine. And Crossroads Charlotte: The Movie did just that. Starting with a scenario entitled Fortress Charlotte, gang members were involved in a drive-by shooting, an eight-year old girl was checked for weaponry via metal detector and an Iraq war veteran was denied entry into a homeless shelter ' in the first few minutes. Ouch.

I never thought I would know what it would be like to live in Detroit, but now I think I do.

At the end of the pain, actual stats about city problems were displayed as we transitioned into the next scenario, lending creedence to the possibility of such a world coming to fruition. A trend that continued between each scenario.

The six locations were connected by video before the film; after the film, the audience discussed the different outcomes for the city and passed the microphone. Tonya Jameson has more on her blog.

The new CrossroadsCharlotte.com also launched last night, and has ways for community members to post events and stay in touch:

Crossroads Charlotte.com

Congrats to the Crossroads Charlotte team on the site launch; what questions do you have on the possible future scenarios for Charlotte?

Happy Birthday, Bud!

Feb. 3, 2009, 5:03 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Larry "Bud" Meyer retired February 1st after fourteen years at Knight Foundation. You can find more about his accomplishments on his retirement announcement. He is board chairman of the Communications Network, a national nonprofit with 324 members dedicated to promoting strategic communications in U.S. philanthropy.

We miss him here in the office and wanted to send birthday wishes his way, so we made a short video:

Happy Birthday, Bud!

The Wichita PACES Career Employment Program

Feb. 2, 2009, 4:44 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Editor's note: Knight Wichita Program Director Anne Corriston writes about recent recognition of the PACES program that Knight has funded.

Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer recognized Knight Foundation's workforce development project, PACES, in his State of the City address on January 27.

Wichita State of the City Address January 27, 2009 Image by Michael Kinard.

PACES, Preparation for Aviation/Advanced Career Employment System, is managed by the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas. The goal is to connect low-income, low-skilled people to higher paying careers at local aviation companies and their suppliers. The economic downturn our aviation companies are currently experiencing means we are expanding the PACES model to include the health care industry.

Knight's initial investment in PACES has led to other grants, including one from the City of Wichita. The PACES program team will work with community-based organizations to provide remedial learning, skills assessment, and coaching to participants.

It's a project with a long view ' moving people from marginal jobs with low pay to better-paying jobs that offer benefits and opportunities to advance their careers. We will learn much along the way and will share our findings as we go.