Knight Blog

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

Video: FCC's Steven Waldman's speech on the news ecosystem at the 2011 Media Learning Seminar

Feb. 28, 2011, 8:32 p.m., Posted by Dale Peskin

Steve Waldman, featured speaker at Media Learning Seminar from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

Senior Advisor to the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Steven Waldman discusses the current state of the news ecosystem, and the role of community foundations moving forward.

Cross-posted from infoneeds.org

Arianna Huffington: Engagement in news bodes well for the future of information

Feb. 28, 2011, 8:02 p.m., Posted by Dale Peskin

Arianna Huffington on Future of Journalism from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

Arianna Huffington, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post, says she's optimistic about the future of journalism, at the Knight Foundation-sponsored Media Learning Seminar in Miami, Feb 28, 2011.

Chris Hughes: For nonprofits, experimentation with technology goes a long way

Feb. 28, 2011, 5:48 p.m., Posted by Dale Peskin

Jumo Founder Chris Hughes from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

An interview with Obama online organizer, Facebook co-founder and Jumo Founder Chris Hughes after his "Using Technology to Help People Take Action" panel at Knight Foundation's 2011 Media Learning Seminar.

A post from the 2011 Media Learning Seminar. At Knight Foundation's Media Learning Seminar, community and place-based foundation leaders meet with journalism and technology experts to explore the topic of community information needs. Follow the event on Twitter at #infoneeds and @knightfdn.

Community Foundations in the Knowledge Business: Leadership

Feb. 28, 2011, 4:34 p.m., Posted by Robertson Adams

Panel Discussion at the 2011 Media Learning Seminar

  • Moderator: Mariam C. Noland, President, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan

  • Speakers: John G. Davies, President and CEO, Baton Rouge Area Foundation

  • Darcy Oman, President and CEO, Community Foundation Serving Richmond & Central Virginia

  • James Head, Vice President, Programs, San Francisco Foundation

  • Scott Wierman, PresidentWinston-Salem Foundation

Arianna Huffington: 'Third World America'

Feb. 28, 2011, 4:34 p.m., Posted by Robertson Adams

 

  • Introduction: Alberto Ibargüen, President and CEO, Knight Foundation
  • Featured Speaker:  Arianna Huffington, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post

More from the 2011 Media Learning Seminar

Chance favors the connected mind

Feb. 28, 2011, 4:29 p.m., Posted by Dale Peskin

Cross-posted from infoneeds.org

It's a stunning reference from Darcy Ohman, President and CEO of the Community Foundation serving Richmond and Central Virginia.

The concept is that you have a partial idea, or a hunch, that needs to be combined with another hunch to form a fully-developed, great idea. Sometimes patience and thought will get you there just fine, allowing the fragments of ideas time to incubate, but generally your great idea will occur thanks to the combination of your hunch with someone else's hunch. To get to that point, you need to place yourself in environments that foster good collaboration.

Author and big thinker Stephen Johnson argues that while the web can often be a distraction, it can also be a fantastic collaborative environment for the development of great ideas. Johnson has created a terrific video that comes from his really good book, Where Good Ideas Come From.

A post from the 2011 Media Learning Seminar. At Knight Foundation's Media Learning Seminar, community and place-based foundation leaders meet with journalism and technology experts to explore the topic of community information needs. Follow the event on Twitter at #infoneeds and @knightfdn.

The Texas two-step: Is political coverage like ballet?

Feb. 28, 2011, 2:53 p.m., Posted by Dale Peskin

Cross-posted from infoneeds.org Texas Tribune is one the best examples of a nonprofit journalism model, an initiative that Steve Waldman seems to have in mind.

It's a nonprofit, community-initiated Web site that banks on donations to finance a perceived void in state political coverage and public interest journalism. It has poached journalists from the newspapers that apparently didn't cover state politics and public policy well enough in the first place. TexTrib is real proud of its stories, so it is making them available to any of those pokey, newspaper armadillos to use for free.

There's no advertising and no plans to charge for content. The model assumes funding almost exclusively through philanthropy, gradually transitioning to an equation where earned income from events and premium products support the philanthropy.

The nonprofit startup scares the boots off the patrician press barons in Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio who are scaling back staff, coverage and investment as circulation and ad revenue slip-slide away. For the beleaguered news industry, a nonprofit competitor funded by the most engaged and affluent audiences is yet another serious threat to survival.

TexTrib's founder, John Thornton, has emerged as the leading evangelist for the non-profit, philanthropy model for news. An earnest and energetic capitalist who's the general partner of high-flying Austin Ventures, he's seeded TexTrib with...

FCC advisor: We need the eggs

Feb. 28, 2011, 2:27 p.m., Posted by Dale Peskin

Cross-posted from infoneeds.org Steve Waldman's talk at the MLS luncheon reminded me of the old Woody Allen joke:

'This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, 'Doc, uh, my brother's crazy, he thinks he's a chicken,' and uh, the doctor says, 'well why don't you turn him in?' And the guy says, 'I would, but I need the eggs.'

Journalism is crazy sick, says the FCC's media doctor. Waldman thinks place-based foundations should step up with non-profit media initiatives to fill the gap in community journalism.

'Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships. You know, they're totally irrational and crazy and absurd and, but uh, I guess we keep going through it...because...most of us need the eggs.'

Laughter for Woody's joke. Mock applause from one attendee in response to Waldman ending on an optimistic note.

Waldman, the co-founder of News Corp.'s Beliefnet.com and a former national editor at US News & World Report, has been tapped by the Federal Communications Commission to oversee the regulatory agency's initiative to assess the state of media in challenging economic times and make recommendations designed to ensure 'a vibrant media landscape."

His report on the state of journalism in our communities was sobering. The journalism business has been reduced by half or more. Half the number of reporters, half the coverage, half the revenue. And sinking fast...

Steven Waldman: 'Universal Access'

Feb. 28, 2011, noon, Posted by Robertson Adams

Steven Waldman is Senior Advisor to the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, serving out of the Office of Strategic Planning

speakers: 

  • Welcome and Introduction: Steve Gunderson, President and CEO, Council on Foundations
  • Featured Speaker: Steven Waldman, Senior Advisor to the Chairman, FCC

More from the 2011 Media Learning Seminar: 
http://www.knightfoundation.org/media-learning-seminar/2011/

Chris Hughes: Something meaningful together

Feb. 28, 2011, 11:54 a.m., Posted by Dale Peskin

Cross-posted from infoneeds.org

Knight Technology for Engagement Initiative: Jumo.com's Chris Hughes from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

At the age of 25, Chris Hughes has helped create two of the most successful startups in modern history: Facebook and the campaign that helped elect Barack Obama. He's dedicated to the proposition that communities, and the way we share and interact within them, are vitally important.

His definition of the overused work 'community: the bond that enables us to do something meaningful together. Commonality.

A tech star whose business is people, Chris co-founded Facebook with Harvard dormmates Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskowitz, He left the company to help build the brand of another breakout star: that Obama fellow.

Chris plows what he observes about human behavior into online systems that 'help people do what they want to do in their real lives.' Now he's into Jumo, a platform ' or 'work in progress,' as he says -- for stories about doing good work. It connects individuals and organizations to issues and projects they care about.

On news: 'we have a lot of work to do.'

Chris just looks like the precocious son to whom you just gave the keys to the car. He knows how to drive. Fast. At just 25-years-old...

Alberto Ibargüen, Clay Shirky and the Media Learning Seminar

Feb. 28, 2011, 11:13 a.m., Posted by Dale Peskin

Cross-posted from infoneeds.org

In opening remarks, Alberto Ibargüen cites Clay Shirky's argument for cognitive surplus. Shirkey believes that new technologies enable collaboration, take advantage of 'spare' brainpower and can change the way society works.

He argues that the time Americans once spent watching television has been redirected toward activities that are less about consuming and more about engaging'from Flickr and Facebook to powerful forms of online political action.) And these efforts aren't fueled by external rewards but by intrinsic motivation'the joy of doing something for its own sake.

As a route towards action, rather than an escape from it, technology and media have never looked more potent than they do today. This is a big idea for community foundations. Perhaps the most amazing fact about Knight's incisive initiative for building a better world is...

Introducing the 2011 Media Learning Seminar, and the blogger

Feb. 28, 2011, 10:26 a.m., Posted by Dale Peskin

Cross-posted from infoneeds.org


My name is Dale and I’m the blogger.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, a few words on what the guy in the lavender shirt and designer suit ( so Miami .. ) is doing here: I’m posting stories and insights from MLS to the Knight site, the sorta official blogger for the conference. I’ve done this for a coupla years now. It’s a gas and always an education. I appreciate Knight asking me back.

I’m the co-founder, curator and catalyst for We Media, a digital innovation company that stirs big ideas about media and society. We stir and stimulate transitioning companies and organizations, as well as provide investment and guidance to startups and entrepreneurial journalists.

We conduct the annual We Media conference and Pitch It! Investment Challenge, which are being in New York City on April 6. The conference was held here in Miami the previous four years. Knight has been a great supporter. Alberto Ibargüen first brought the conference to Miami, and Knight currently funds our pre-Pitch It! boot camp for entrepreneurs.

Knight has been a partner in change. We share an enthusiasm for inspiring ideas that inform and impact communities and the people know and understand. We Media is focused on the people and plans that have turned the world upside down overnight.

You’ll hear a few of them here.

I’ll be weighing in throughout the conference. I’ll be following your tweets at #infoneeds. You can email me at dale_peskin@yahoo.com. Or you can find me in the back of the room beneath the imposing lighting structure. I’m the guy in the lavender shirt and nice suit.

A post from the 2011 Media Learning Seminar. At Knight Foundation’s Media Learning Seminar, community and place-based foundation leaders meet with journalism and technology experts to explore the topic of community information needs. Follow the event on Twitter at #infoneeds and @knightfdn.

Arianna Huffington to speak at fourth annual Knight Media Learning Seminar

Feb. 28, 2011, 9:35 a.m., Posted by Marika Lynch

Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington, president of the Huffington Post Media Group, and Facebook Co-Founder and'Jumo.com Founder'Chris Hughes will speak in Miami today at Knight Foundation's fourth annual Media Learning Seminar.

Follow the conference on its blog at'www.informationneeds.org, and on Twitter using the hashtag #infoneeds.

More than 350 people are gathering for the event, which'brings together tech experts and community and place-based foundations to discuss how they can - and are - supporting news and information projects. The event is part of the'Knight Community Information Challenge, which encourages local foundations to help fund efforts that inform and engage communities.

In addition,'the'FCC's Steve Waldman, who has been charged with making recommendations to ensure a vibrant media landscape and'A.C. Thompson, a ProPublica reporter will be speaking.

The Knight Community Information Challenge is accepting applications for its matching grant program through March 7, from community and place-based foundations. More at www.informationneeds.org.

MLS2011: Alberto Ibargüen Welcoming Remarks

Feb. 28, 2011, 9:10 a.m., Posted by Robertson Adams

More from the 2011 Media Learning Seminar.

Chris Hughes: 'Using Technology to Help People Take Action'

Feb. 28, 2011, 8:34 a.m., Posted by Robertson Adams

Using Technology to Help People Take Action

Speakers:

  • Paula Ellis, Vice President/ Strategic Initiatives, Knight Foundation
  • Chris Hughes, Co-Founder, Facebook and Founder, Jumo.com

More from the 2011 Media Learning Seminar is here: 
http://www.knightfoundation.org/media-learning-seminar/2011/

TheNewsOutlet sees high impact from stories by student journalists

Feb. 28, 2011, 5 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan

By Tim Francisco and Alyssa Lenhoff

Youngstown State University student journalist Dan Pompili was nervous. “What if they throw me out?” he asked. Before anyone could answer his question, he spoke again: “I know. I know. I have to try.”

Pompili was on his way to interview the operators of a home for mentally challenged people in Youngstown, Ohio. He had been investigating the facility for weeks as part of his work for TheNewsOutlet.org, a collaboration between Youngstown State University, The Raymond John Wean Foundation, The Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative and professional media partners, The Youngstown Vindicator and NPR affiliate, WYSU.

Pompili’s examination had turned up some startling findings: two men had died in the facility under questionable circumstances, the facility’s former human resources director was having sex with one of the mentally incompetent residents and the conditions were so unsanitary in the facility that state inspectors wanted to shut the place down.

The public knew nothing of the problems at the House of Hope until Pompili’s NewsOutlet stories brought badly needed attention to the troubled facility.

The House of Hope examination is one of more than 50 multi-platform enterprise and investigative packages that the NewsOutlet has produced in its first year of operation.

The project launched in Fall 2009 with initial support from The Raymond John Wean Foundation as a way to give YSU journalism students a dose of experiential learning while providing area media with the important content that they...

Civication Inc is ready to bring news to deaf community

Feb. 27, 2011, 11:23 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan

What do you do when you're the parent of a profoundly deaf child seeking the best education and community possible? If you're Devorah Ben-Moshe, you and your family moves to Austin, Texas, where The Texas School for the Deaf offers some of the best education--and the best community--in the world. But you don't stop there--concerned with civic engagement and aware of the ways non-hearing people can be shut out of discussion about civic issues, you form a non-profit organization----Civication Inc--with a friend and then go out and apply for--and get-- a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Community Information Challenge grant to start an online and TV show called ACCESS News, a monthly news and entertainment program for hearing-impaired youth.

Also funded by The Austin Community Foundation, which raised money to match the Knight funds, ACCESS News will have a home page hosted on Austin PBS station KLRU and be broadcast on that station The program, anchored by an ASL speaker, will bring national, state, and local news and information to a wide deaf audience at the same time it makes the hearing world aware of issues in deaf culture and news.

The goal, says Ben-Moshe, is to...

A Texas town looks at the soul of its community

Feb. 25, 2011, 11:45 a.m., Posted by Andries Vaisman

This post is authored by Dr. Katherine Loflin, lead consultant for Soul of the Community, a Knight-funded study to determine what factors attach residents to their communities and the role of community attachment in an area's economic growth and well-being. Here, Katherine writes about a presentation she delivered to the community of Corpus Christi, Texas, on Feb. 16.

To be honest, this was the first time I had been a little nervous about a Soul of the Community presentation in a long time. The day of my arrival to Corpus Christi, Texas, an article appeared in the local paper announcing my visit and telling residents that local Mayor Joe Adame was inviting everyone to come out and hear the presentation. Great.

Then, as I always do, I scrolled down to look at the comments to the article. 'Why don't we have a meeting and talk about why we all hate it here,' was among the comments I read, along with criticism of the local leadership and the general consent that the meeting was going to be a major bust. Many readers seemed pretty pleased by that prospect. Of course, other residents tried to come to the defense of the city but even their comments were telling: 'And the Corpus whiners are out in full swing.' It was the most pre-presentation reaction I had seen in the three-plus years of the Soul of the Community project ' and certainly the most negative.

Not sure what to expect, I stepped out off the plane and took a beautiful scenic route along the waterfront to my hotel. Beautiful homes and pristine beaches welcomed me. As I got closer to downtown overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, I saw a new and cool-looking splash park for the kids that I knew my four-year-old would enjoy. Around downtown and close to downtown I saw attractions like the new-looking American Bank Center, the USS Lexington available for tours and the Texas Aquarium.

Later, when I reached the presentation venue, I mentioned the newspaper article comments to the mayor. He smiled apologetically and said with conviction, 'The message of Soul of the Community will be well-received, and we need this message now.' I wanted to do right by him and this city.

So with more than 100 local residents and members of the local press in attendance, I began the presentation.

As I spoke, I constantly scanned the crowd looking for nonverbal (or verbal) reaction to what I was saying. Head nods, smiles and thoughtful expressions greeted me back. Great.

Then came the Q&A period ' always my favorite part of doing presentations. As reported by the Caller Times on the front page of the local section the following day, a resident stood up and asked me something I have never been asked before: 'Be brutally honest ' as someone not living here, what is your first impression of Corpus Christi?' One commenter to the news article retelling this story said that before I gave an honest and tactful response, for a fleeting moment I had the 'deer in headlights' look on my face. I'm sure I did.

The comments I had read in the article announcing the presentation flooded my mind as I stood facing what seemed to be a completely different crowd that night. And I worried about deflating that crowd with my honest response. But I said, 'It seems to me that some of you, and I'm not sure if you're in this room, but some of you are stuck in place.'

The room seemed to collectively exhale back at me in what felt like relief. So I continued, 'And that must be hurting you as a place in some ways.' Heads began nodding again and pensive faces broke into sad smiles. 'But I don't see that here tonight. I see people wanting to find new ways to solve old problems and move forward as a place, and you have a good start.' Then I began reciting all the wonderful amenities (social offerings), beauty (aesthetics) and welcoming faces (openness) I had encountered since I landed. We shut the place down with residents staying long after the allotted time to talk about their community and ask questions about Soul of the Community.

The following morning, I received a message through Twitter from a local resident who said he now had restored hope that Corpus Christi could be better ' and perhaps he and his family would stick around a little longer to see and be a part of that. Additionally, the comments to the article in the paper about the event were overwhelmingly positive.

I couldn't wait to share this with the mayor when I saw him later that day. And when I did he said that he wasn't surprised ' that he felt a shift in the room last night and that 'everyone' was talking about the presentation today ' on local talk radio, in the paper and everywhere he went. It is momentum he plans to build on using Soul of the Community as a guiding framework.

It may not be transformation yet ' but it's discovery. And that's a start.

Media grants #5 - Help create a public interest news organization

Feb. 25, 2011, 11:05 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This is the last in a series of excerpts from our new booklet "Journalism and Media Grant Making: Five Things You Need To Know, Five Ways To Get Started." The booklet is available as a PDF.

Five Ways to Get Started: 5. Help create a public interest news organization

Public interest and investigative news is suffering with cutbacks in traditional media. There are fewer reporters available to cover state government or to conduct time-consuming investigations of potential wrongdoing. Community foundations are helping fill the void. The Community Foundation of New Jerseycreated NJ Spotlight, a website that covers state government, while The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County is helping the fledgling Rocky Mountain Investigative News Network stabilize and grow. “Investigative stories are the first to disappear when newsroom budgets tighten. This is because they are the most expensive type of story to produce. But they are also of the highest value to communities. We got involved in this project because one of the state’s best investigative reporters approached us with a great idea and we wanted to see it succeed.” – Josie Heath, President, The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County

These efforts can have a great deal of impact in the public policy arena.

NJ Spotlight, for example, launched in 2010. During its first week of operation, the site published a report revealing that a major power utility had failed for years to pay a state-mandated energy surcharge. In 2009 alone, Public Service Enterprise Group should have paid an estimated $47 million into the societal benefits charge fund, according to one estimate.

Another foundation-supported professional news site, California Watch, has created a distribution model that puts its investigative stories about state government in front of hundreds of thousands of readers and viewers across a variety of platforms and media outlets. Editor Mark Katches estimated that one 2010 story about large cuts in the number of school days in many districts reached 1.35 million people.

Remember, these new news organizations face the complex issue of maintaining traditional journalistic independence while simultaneously using their editorial, business and tech savvy to really engage a community. They employ professional journalism staffs and typically require annual budgets in the millions of dollars.

So these major projects won’t be for everyone. And that’s OK, too. Starting an entirely new news organization is not the only way to make a big impact. (Recently, for example, The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County targeted early education with a $184,000 awareness campaign that led to voter approval of $22.5 million in annual school funding, including a $5 million annual commitment to expanded preschool and kindergarten services.) Greater impact is out there to be had on the issues you care about, and journalism and media grants can help, if you are willing to jump in and learn as you go.

Previously:

Five things you need to know

1. This is everyone's issue

2. You can build on what you're already doing

3. You can start without a lot of money

4. Journalism requires independence

5. Digital media must be targeted to produce impact

Five Ways to Get Started

1. Map your community's news ecosystem

2. Run a contest to find new voices

3. Grow your own digital literacy

4. Partner with a local news organization

The booklet is sponsored by the Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation. In addition to the PDF, a print version will be released at the Council on Foundations conference in April.

Has your foundation invested in news and information efforts? Do you have questions about media grant making? Please tell us about them in the comments.

2011 Media Learning Seminar

Feb. 25, 2011, 10:51 a.m., Posted by Marika Lynch

Click here to browse the MLS2011 Agenda

The Media Learning Seminar  brings together tech experts and community and place-based foundations to discuss how they can - and are - supporting news and information projects. The event is part of the Knight Community Information Challenge, an effort to encourage local foundations to help fund efforts that inform and engage communities.

Get a feel for the two-day event through this new video:

This year's speakers included  Arianna Huffington, president of the Huffington Post Media Group; Facebook Co-Founder and Jumo.com Founder Chris Hughes; the FCC’s Steve Waldman, who has been charged with making recommendations to ensure a vibrant media landscape and A.C. Thompson, a ProPublica reporter.

Full Agenda is Here

Watch for registration for the 2012 seminar!

Browse tweets with the #infoneeds tag

Giving power to young people is crucial to engaging youth

Feb. 25, 2011, 10:07 a.m., Posted by Andries Vaisman

Maya Enista, CEO of Mobilize.org, firmly believes that giving power to young people is crucial to advancing youth engagement.' 'In fact, the organization she works with aims to address the challenges facing today's young adults by giving them the chance to create solutions on their own.

During a roundtable discussion with leaders in the field, Enista spoke passionately about some ways both adults and changemaking organizations can give youth a voice.' She elaborates on a few of those points here:

Paula Recart and Diana Wells of Ashoka, too, share Enista's conviction about the importance of giving individuals the opportunity to experience their own power while they're young.

Do you have any ideas on the subject of youth empowerment?' If so, we'd love to hear them.' You can also take a look at what others had to say in this past week's posts.

(Photo:'http://www.facebook.com/mobilize.org)

Be Counted, Represent! Take the ‘Census Pledge' engages young Latinos in Los Angeles

Feb. 25, 2011, 6:17 a.m., Posted by Susan Mernit

Did you know that, in California, more than one in three people are Latino,? And that Los Angeles county and surrounding areas have one of the largest number of young Latinos under 35 in the state?  Nevertheless, when  data collection for the 2010 Census began last March,  organizers at national non-profit Voto Latino recognized that it was going to take more that just a couple of public service announcements to make sure young Latinos understood the importance of participating in the census and they were prepared with a cool campaign to get the word out.

During Census-taking season, Voto Latino ran a  mobile-cell phone focused, event and music driven campaign called Be Counted, Represent! Take the ‘Census Pledge.’  Via a web site, a mobile/text campaign  called Text2Represent SMS , a set of star-driven video PSAs, some cool live events and incentives that included free music downloads, iTunes cards and t-shirts, Voto Latino--with support from  the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Community Information Challenge  in partnership with  The  California Community Foundation (CCF)  launched a viral marketing and education program whose goal was to have 70% of the young Latinos targeted actually participate in contributing data to the Census.

According to   Virginia Mosqueda, CCF program director,  young people working with Voto Latino--many from community partners such as MALDEF, the Mexican American Defense and Educational Fund--went door to door in their neighborhoods to get the word out, giving presentations to educate community members of the benefits of participating in the census. At the same time, Voto Latino launched a sophisticated viral campaign, using music and media to reach young Latinos.

Working with movie and television stars including Rosario Dawson, Luis Guzman, Demi Lovato (Disney’s Camp Rock franchise), Ana Ortiz (“Ugly Betty”), Wilmer Valderrama (“That Seventies Show”), and Jorge Garcia (“Lost”) Voto Latino launched a series of viral videos on being counted in the census, along with a mobile/web   census-challenge game that targeted  Latino youth to take an online pledge to be counted and gave them an opportunity to become virtual 2010 Census recruiters by tapping others in their social networks to do the same.

So, how did it go?

Pretty well.  According to Mosqueda, The campaign led to a  73% participation in the 2010 census by the target audience in the county, compared to 70% in 2000--and thousands of young Latinos in the LA County became more aware, and more civically engaged.

News challenge update: Reading second round proposals, finding trends

Feb. 24, 2011, 6:56 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Read
Read by sabeth718, on Flickr

Here at Knight News Challenge central, our experienced reviewers are deep into reading and evaluating the applications which advanced to Round 2 of this year's competition.' As John Bracken outlined in his recent post, our goal is to winnow the pool down to 50-60 finalists by the end of March or early April.

This year's 1,641 applications represent all sorts of projects:'new projects, expansion projects, projects that build on prior winners' technologies, content-focused projects, platform-focused projects, and many more.' The Knight News Challenge is an innovation contest and that is the single most important criterion against which applications are judged in Round 1.' It was remarkable and inspiring to see so many types of innovation showcased by the proposals in this year's pool.' Process innovation, content innovation, technical innovation; you name it, and I read it. And, applications were again submitted from countries across the world'.Argentina to Armenia to Australia'the Knight News Challenge is truly a global contest.

Equally impressive were the many angles and dimensions to the ideas for advancing the future of news and digitally informing communities.' A few themes surfaced repeatedly; here are some of the more prominent among them:

  • Mobile in Many Contexts:
    • Citizen journalism
    • Geo-location-based tools and mapping
    • 'Improving delivery of government services
    • Emergency/prevention/disaster relief
    • General social good, including various public health and education proposals
  • Government 2.0, especially local government 2.0
  • Crowd sourcing news, including using SMS where Internet connectivity is not widely available
  • Authenticating, verifying, manipulating and updating big data sets: tools and dashboards for journalists to better and more easily distill trends and conclusions from big data sets
  • Fact-checking - efforts to help keep'media honest (sometimes combined with crowdsourcing) and accurate, including efforts to counteract censorship
  • Data visualization and visually-oriented geographic reporting projects
  • Citizen journalism training, particularly in rural parts of the developing world and with SMS components
  • Place-based story-telling, with heavy video components
  • Mapping power and influence between people, companies, and institutions and showcasing relationships visually
    • Augmented reality
    • QR Codes

I look forward to seeing who and what emerges as we move toward the final round of the Challenge. This year's ultimate finalists and their highly innovative ideas will help shape the methods, matrix, and message of our civil discourse.' Now, more than ever, that's a very exciting proposition.

 

How strong peer and family networks help youth get engaged in community

Feb. 24, 2011, 11:50 a.m., Posted by Andries Vaisman

Recently, we asked a group of leaders ' what does it take to empower youth and engage them in their communities?

Several talked about the importance of building up support networks for teens and young adults - whether that means strengthening their own family, or providing mentors who are close to their age ('near peers' as City Year's Michael Brown described it).

Hear also what Maurice Lim Miller of'Family Independence Initiative and Eric Dawson of'Peace First had to say about key elements to engaging youth, and read our previous blog posts on the topic, a focus on Knight Foundation's work to promote informed and engaged communities.

If you have an idea for building a community for youth engagement, we'd love to hear it. 'Tomorrow we'll share some more.

(Photo by Jessica McWade)

Form partnerships - #4 of 5 ways to get started with media grant making

Feb. 24, 2011, 9:04 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This is one in a series of excerpts from our new booklet "Journalism and Media Grant Making."

Five Ways to Get Started: 4. Partner with a local news organization

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Even if your community’s traditional news organizations have been shrinking, they likely still have considerable reach.

An established news organization in your community may be a great partner for news and information projects, especially if you want to reach a wide audience. The Alaska Community Foundation, for example, is working with Alaska Public Telecommunications Inc. to create a hub of local blogs that will bring diverse voices to the airwaves. The Hawaii Community Foundation is partnering with PBS Hawaii to create Hiki No (Can do), which will create a statewide student news network. The Rhode Island Foundation partners with an NPR affiliate, which airs its forums on important public issues.

In some cases, funding the work of an existing news organization may create a more stable flow of information than starting your own project. That’s the philosophy behind many of The George Gund Foundation’s media grants. These including the funding for NPR, for a statewide environmental newspaper in Ohio ($25,000-$40,000) and for Ideastream, a local public broadcasting company ($250,000).

“Funders can support local public affairs journalism without starting from scratch. We can bolster existing media. Too often foundations get enamored with the idea of launching their own projects. But those projects frequently are short-lived because of the all-too- common tendency of foundations to jump from issue to issue and because their foundation-centric initiatives excluded the sort of broad-based funding that would have built sustainable efforts.” – David T. Abbott, Executive Director, The George Gund Foundation

You may find partners outside of traditional media.

The Community Foundation of South Wood County in Central Wisconsin has invested heavily in developing partnerships with local businesses and agencies as it creates projects that will help residents cross the digital divide. More recently, the foundation has formed a partnership with the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop several interactive information programs for local residents and students.

“We provide the MIT Media Lab with a ‘community lab’ within which technology experiments to foster civic engagement can be created and tested. The Lab benefits from our foundation’s networks, reputation in the community and holistic approach to re-development.” – Kelly Lucas, President and CEO, Community Foundation of South Wood County

Tomorrow: 5. Help create a public interest news organization

Previously:

Five things you need to know

1. This is everyone's issue

2. You can build on what you're already doing

3. You can start without a lot of money

4. Journalism requires independence

5. Digital media must be targeted to produce impact

Five Ways to Get Started

1. Map your community's news ecosystem

2. Run a contest to find new voices

3. Grow your own digital literacy

Stay tuned for more ideas. The full booklet will be available as a pdf on this site later this week and in print in April at the annual conference of the Council on Foundations. The booklet is sponsored by the Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation.

Has your foundation invested in news and information efforts? Do you have questions about media grant making? Please tell us about them in the comments.

Knight grantee co-hosts Obama in Cleveland to discuss small business innovation

Feb. 23, 2011, 5:09 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

President Barack Obama was in Cleveland, Ohio yesterday to get feedback from local start-ups and small businesses on what the administration can do to further support innovation in America.

The trip, called Winning 'The Future and co-hosted by Knight grantee Jumpstart, comes on the heels of the announcement of Start-up America, of which Jumpstart will play an important role. The President stressed the importance of inventing new industries and supporting small business. The Knight Foundation recently funded Jumpstart to set up entrepreneurial support networks in 6 Knight cities across the country. The president will continue his Winning the Future Tour in 6 other cities across the county.

Read more about the event in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Check out Jumpstart's Flickr set from volunteers at the event.

Get started in media grant making No.3: grow your own digital expertise

Feb. 23, 2011, 12:17 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This is one in a series of excerpts from our new booklet "Journalism and Media Grant Making."

Five Ways to Get Started: 3. Grow your own digital expertise

Remember: these days, everyone can be a news -and information provider. That means everything your foundation does can be improved if you have greater -communications expertise on your staff, and everything your grantees do will be improved if they- -have greater communications skills. In the digital age, we can literally tell our stories to the world – if we take the time to do it well.

The Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, for example, jump-started its digital information efforts by hiring a director of digital communications. Similarly, five years ago when Knight Foundation wanted to do more in digital media, it too hired a digital media program director. We call these folks “digital lieutenants.” Everyone should have one: you and each of your major grantees. A digital director can do more than help your foundation build and maintain an information website. That’s just the start. Slade Sundar, who served in that role for the Palm Beach foundation, developed an information strategy for its information site, YourPBC, and even coached nonprofit contributors to the site in social media, journalism and cause-related marketing.

“Foundations will operate differently in the future than they do today, and a big part of that difference will come from the Internet and social media. We knew that we didn’t have those capabilities in-house. We learned that hiring someone was critical, but not enough: more of us had to learn digital skills, particularly in social media, to build our capacity and be more effective.” – Leslie Lilly, President and CEO, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties

A good digital director (or consultant) can also help you avoid common traps if you’re just starting out.

For example, you will want to resist proposals that promise to create a customized, utopian website solving all the problems of your community. First, not even daily newspapers that have been at it for 100 years or more have developed brands that capture all the web traffic in a community. Second, these days content doesn’t like to stay put on just one website anyway. It likes to move around through social networks such as Twitter and Facebook and onto mobile phones.

You also need to figure out how to measure your digital efforts. Web metrics are not difficult to learn. Funders need to know enough about them to require their use both inside and outside their organizations. Once a news or information project has determined whom it is trying to engage, web metrics can help you determine if that’s happening. You can find out what content people are looking at, how often or for how long; where they are coming from and where they are going when they enter and leave a site, and how often they return. All those usage metrics are now being joined by a new set of measurements called “engagement metrics.” You can measure deeper engagement by looking at how many people download content, leave comments, sign petitions or share your web content with others. Once you know an information project’s priorities, you can judge what metrics you will require.

“It is no longer sufficient or effective to simply build a great destination and convince people to come. The social media revolution requires that we go where people are and become part of many conversations. This can mean using Facebook to engage community around story topics; Twitter to link people with new content, and YouTube and Flickr to create broader content distribution paths. These are tools that very effectively empower others to be ambassadors, distributors, promoters and conveners around community journalism. Use of new media platforms is a critical component of success.” – Roberta F. King, Vice President PR and Marketing, Grand Rapids Community Foundation

Tomorrow: 4. Partner with a local news organization

Previously:

Five things you need to know

1. This is everyone's issue

2. You can build on what you're already doing

3. You can start without a lot of money

4. Journalism requires independence

5. Digital media must be targeted to produce impact

Five Ways to Get Started

1. Map your community's news ecosystem

2. Run a contest to find new voices

Stay tuned for more ideas. The full booklet will be available as a pdf on this site later this week and in print in April at the annual conference of the Council on Foundations. The booklet is sponsored by the Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation.

Has your foundation invested in news and information efforts? Do you have questions about media grant making? Please tell us about them in the comments.

How do you turn teens in trouble into youth who give back? Social entrepreneurs give tips on engaging youth

Feb. 23, 2011, 12:05 p.m., Posted by Andries Vaisman

As founder of the nonprofit Fresh Lifelines for Youth,'Christa Gannon helps teens in trouble stay out of jail and make healthy decisions. FLY graduates are also offered a chance to join a community leadership program.

So we asked her: 'What do you think is key to getting youth involved in their community?'

The recognized social activist and'Stanford Law graduate said playing to young people's strengths is critical. In the case of disconnected youth, we need to say,

"Wow, you have great leadership skills," said Gannon, "you might be leading by leading by how you're selling on the corner, but, looks like you're a really great salesman, looks like you've got some great marketing skills - we want to work with those skills."

The interview followed a panel discussion on engaging youth highlighted on Knightblog yesterday. ' Knight Foundation convened the panel as part of its focus on promoting informed and engaged communities.

Dorothy Stoneman fromYouthBuild USA shares her thoughts below:

We'd love to know what you think. 'And watch for more tomorrow.

(Photo: Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY) on Facebook)

@JCZamora: 10 tweets for aspiring journalism entrepreneurs

Feb. 22, 2011, 6:49 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Jose Zamora10 tips I gave @univmiami's #CNJ595 #journalism #entrepreneurs to follow this thread.

10. See failure as something positive -a learning opportunity- most start-ups fail. Use what you learned to launch your next idea. #CNJ595

9. Have 50 ideas, not just one. One of them will stick. #CNJ595 (I have to attribute this one to @digidave)

8. Partner. i.e. @JLab's CommunityNewsNetwork @miamiherald @PatchTweet @examinercom @grandavenews @kdmc Maximize res' (cont) http://deck.ly/~3Rtvo

7. Think about how to sustain your project long term from the beginning. You need demand & business model. Grant funding runs out. #CNJ595 6. Launch! Use opportunities like #newschallenge #infoneeds @knightarts @JLab's New Voices & other resources to launch and have a proof of concept. #CNJ595

5. Have an amazing 30 second elevator pitch. #CNJ595

4. Don't reinvent the wheel. The best innovations make new/better uses of things that already exist. Try using free online tools. #CNJ595

3. If similar projects to the one you are proposing exist, explain why yours is different and better. #CNJ595

2. Research. Make sure that what you are proposing to do doesn't exist & that there is demand for it. #CNJ595

1. Be passionate about what you are proposing to do. Successful projects have passionate founders.#CNJ595

D.C. Study: Broadband speed worse in low income, rural areas

Feb. 22, 2011, 1:39 p.m., Posted by Andries Vaisman

Having trouble viewing this page?  You may have better luck if you reboot in a wealthier part of town.

Despite equivalent monthly costs, broadband Internet service in the greater Washington D.C. area is slower in rural and lower-income neighborhoods than in their wealthy suburban counterparts, a new Knight-funded study found.  The analysis of more than 4,000 records of speed tests and surveys in D.C. were compiled by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University to explore inequality in local Internet access.

The research complements the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's recent release of a federal map highlighting broadband availability in the U.S.  Though the extensive mapping and data collection program issued by the federal government provides insight to the overall connectivity options throughout the country, this new information, applicable only to D.C. residents, clarifies actual'connection speeds and prices in specific neighborhoods.  Together, the two could raise awareness not only about equal rights to information availability, but also about practices of broadband suppliers previously unknown.

John Dunbar, author of the Workshop report, commented in an article written by the Washington Post, saying, "The original digital divide was about access, but we are now moving into a territory where we are understanding that the real barrier to access is about price and value."

Said Eric Newton, Knight's vice president for journalism: "This excellent investigative project details how all broadband is not created equal.  It raises an important question as the nation struggles to regain global broadband leadership: With gaping digital divides in pricing and speed, is what we have been calling "universal broadband" really universal?"

Disparity in broadband access reflects the ongoing discussion about the information needs of communities in a democracy.  For more detail visit www.knightcomm.org, or read the news release on the study.

Empowering Youth: Three Lessons

Feb. 22, 2011, 11:05 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This post is the first of several addressing how to engage youth, a focus of Knight Foundation's efforts to promote informed and engaged communities.

Knight Foundation recently gathered seven social entrepreneurs to see what they thought were the best ways to empower youth in their communities. Throughout the afternoon, they exchanged ideas about how to ensure young people have the self-permission, opportunity, information and resources to be change makers throughout their lives.

Together they drew a picture of the "Millennial" generation: a group raised on service-learning curriculums, who see the ability to give back to their community as a measure of their own success, and who in record droves are signing up for programs like AmeriCorps and Teach for America.

And yet, the statistics also show a gap.'Often that energy, that desire to contribute or lead, is going unsupported and untapped, they said.' Teens and young adults don't always see a place for their voice and their work.' They feel unwelcome, perhaps a result of negative messages about youth coming from adults and even the media.

The participants addressing these issues ranged from veterans of the juvenile justice system to others working with middle class college students.' They included Michael Brown from City Year, Eric Dawson of Peace First, Maya Enista from Mobilize.org, Christa Gannon of FLY (Fresh Lifelines for Youth), Suzanne McKechnie Klahr from BUILD, 'Maurice Lim Miller of Family Independence Initiative,'Dorothy Stoneman from YouthBuild USA, and Diana Wells and Paula Recart of Ashoka.

Watch the session on video, see the transcript ' or read the three main takeaways on how we can all help empower youth:

Extend the Invitation

It sounds like a basic concept, but our society isn't issuing the invitation to young people as a whole to encourage them to make a difference. ''We do a horrible job of calling our young people into our communities,' said Eric Dawson, founder and President of Peace First, which aims to empower children to be problem-solvers and peace advocates. 'We say we want them, but then we set meetings in the middle of the day, or halfway across the country.' ''Couple that with the negative media messages and young adults often feel they aren't capable to lead change, or won't be listened to if they try.

People and groups should ensure that the messages they send ' intentionally and by virtue of practice ' are positive, relevant and compelling to youth. 'BUILD, for example, is an organization focused on helping at-risk youth graduate from high school.' However, it sees empowerment as a critical strategy in making that happen. 'BUILD invites the young people to launch a business and then supports their progress. ''Offering youth a shot at being the CEO of their own company is much more compelling than an invitation to attend an after-school tutoring center,' said BUILD founder and CEO Suzanne McKechnie Klahr. 'Making things cool and making a new identity cool is very powerful.'

Ideas shared:

  • Encourage respect for young people's opinions and ensure their perspectives are being heard and valued.
  • Employ storytelling of successful youth leadership to counteract negative messages about young people.
  • Invite youth to serve on the boards of directors of youth-oriented nonprofits.' Foundations that invest in youth-centered projects should do the same.

Build Young People's Sense of Self-Efficacy and Empowerment

Youth need experiences that allow them to be powerful in a positive way. 'A large part of that is the opportunity to try out new identities. That means taking them out of their usual surroundings and networks and letting them experiment.

Christa Gannon is the founder and Executive Director of FLY (Fresh Lifelines for Youth), an organization that works to give a second chance to youth formerly in the juvenile justice system. 'At first, FLY worked with a large group of young people from the same community, but made little progress. So they started bringing together youth from a variety of different neighborhoods. Once they were in a new environment and could experiment with their new roles, with new people in a safe space, the youth could take action and 'go back to their communities and create a snowball effect', Gannon says.

Ideas shared:

  • Connect youth-serving programs and organizations so that young people can find a range of options.
  • Get young people's input from the beginning of a project or initiative rather than a token sign-off at the end.
  • Create spaces where youth can find the love, respect and encouragement they sometimes lack in their communities.' 'Once they find the thing that gives them what they need ' the safety, the respect, the opportunity, the skills, the family, the love, the role in the community where they're the heroes and not the hoodlums ' then all their peers want to follow them,' shared Dorothy Stoneman, founder and President of Youth Build USA, which engages low-income youth to rebuild their communities and their lives.

Shift the Way Adults Perceive Youth and their Abilities

One of the biggest barriers to youth empowerment is what Stoneman calls "Adultism." Based on fear, it's an attitude that implies that adults know better than young people, one that sees youth as problems or subjects to help rather than capable, empowered individuals.' The cycle replicates itself generation after generation, she said. Take, for example, the recent debate over school reform that she said involves very little input from students. ''We could come up with a million instances where young people have no voice on the things that determine their existence,' Stoneman said.

Ideas shared:

  • Challenge instances of 'adultism' when you see them.' Advocate for youth as powerful and positive members of communities.
  • Create awards for 'fearless' adults who actually give more power to young people over decisions, Ashoka U.S. Director Paula Recart suggested.' 'There are young people out there that are engaged and willing to act as problem solvers, what we need are more adults giving them space and opportunity,' Recart said.

Tomorrow, we'll post short interviews with each of the social entrepreneurs answering one question: In your perspective, what is the most important element to engaging youth today?

We'd love to hear your thoughts, too, on what we can all do to empower youth as change makers.

(Photo by www.YoVenice.com, Flickr)

Ways to get started with media grant making: #2 - Run a contest

Feb. 22, 2011, 11:03 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This is one in a series of excerpts from our new booklet "Journalism and Media Grant Making: Five Things You Need to Know, Five Ways to Get Started." Based on the experiences of foundations that are making media grants, it's a primer for foundations that want to begin.

Five Ways to Get Started: 1. Map your community's news ecosystem

The results may surprise you.

The Chicago Community Trust and the William Penn Foundation were worried about the decline of established news media in their cities and they- -commissioned studies. While decline of traditional- -sources was evident, both foundations also discovered- something new emerging online.

“Inventorying all the new local news and conducting research on the needs of information consumers helped us understand how we can be more strategic in our support for a strong information ecosystem. We learned that there are many interesting information experiments that need sustainable support. We also found, on the other hand, that some areas and populations – particularly the city’s low-income neighborhoods – are simply not as well served by this explosion of creativity as others. So we’re now working to stimulate development of new information sources for these areas.” – Ngoan Le, Vice President of Program, The Chicago Community Trust

In 2010, Knight Foundation and Monitor Institute, with advisory support from the Pew Research Center’s Project for the Internet and American Life project, tested a new way for a community to explore its local media ecosystem in three cities – Philadelphia, San Jose, Calif., and Macon, Ga. They did research and then gathered community members and leaders to discuss the results. A popular feature of the media exploration exercise was a “scavenger hunt,” wherein participants tried to find particular kinds of information, everything from how to get a driver’s license to a search for the big local school board issue. The result: the Community Information Tookit, a workbook for community members who want to hold similar media learning sessions in their cities.

“It was clear that people are eager to learn how changes in media are affecting their communities and what they can do about it. At the local workshops, many participants said they wanted to stay involved to help improve news and information flows. We think the best conversations are those focusing on a particular aspect of a community’s information system – education news, or health information, or City Hall news – the more targeted you can be the better. The information ecosystem is vast, and it is easy for folks to get lost in the woods if they aren’t considering just one aspect of the system.” – Mayur Patel, Director of Strategic Assessment Assistant to the President John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Bringing people and experts together is a good way to better understand the information flow and the needs in your community.

The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the Community Foundation of South Wood County (Wisc.) convened major community gatherings to stoke discussion of local information needs and cement partnerships that drive their information projects.

As a result, the Buffalo foundation now has more than 150 local partner organizations that participate in its information project, GrowWNY, a website focusing on green opportunities and environmental protection in western New York State. South Wood County’s convening focused on community information needs and the digital divide.

Tomorrow: 2. Run a Contest to Find New Voices

Previously:

Five things you need to know

1. This is everyone's issue

2. You can build on what you're already doing

3. You can start without a lot of money

4. Journalism requires independence

5. Digital media must be targeted to produce impact

Stay tuned for more ideas. The full booklet will be available as a pdf on this site later this week and in print in April at the annual conference of the Council on Foundations. The booklet is sponsored by the Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation.

Has your foundation invested in news and information efforts? Do you have questions about media grant making? Please tell us about them in the comments.

Opportunities for foundation leadership: Meeting community information needs

Feb. 21, 2011, 11:33 a.m., Posted by Susan Patterson

When the Central Carolina Community Foundation launched a project to help seniors bridge the digital divide, it aimed to help inform and engage residents in Columbia, S.C. The project did that – and more.

Through the project – funded by the Knight Community Information Challenge – the foundation amplified its visibility and viability, leading to a greater leadership role locally, more projects benefitting Columbia, and even national exposure.

The Park City Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust – very different foundations – had similar experiences with their Challenge projects...

This week: 5 ways to get started with journalism and media grant making

Feb. 21, 2011, 9:13 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This is one in a series of excerpts from our new booklet "Journalism and Media Grant Making: Five Things You Need to Know, Five Ways to Get Started." Based on the experiences of foundations that are making media grants, it's a primer for foundations that want to begin.

Five Ways to Get Started:'1. Map your community's news ecosystem

The results may surprise you.

The Chicago Community Trust and the'William Penn Foundation were worried about the decline of established news media in their cities and they- -commissioned studies. While decline of traditional- -sources was evident, both foundations also discovered- something new emerging online.

'Inventorying all the new local news and conducting research on the needs of information consumers helped us understand how we can be more strategic in our support for a strong information ecosystem. We learned that there are many interesting information experiments that need sustainable support. We also found, on the other hand, that some areas and populations ' particularly the city's low-income neighborhoods ' are simply not as well served by this explosion of creativity as others. So we're now working to stimulate development of new information sources for these areas.' ' Ngoan Le, Vice President of Program, The Chicago Community Trust

In 2010, Knight Foundation and Monitor Institute, with advisory support from the Pew Research Center's Project for the Internet and American Life project, tested a new way for a community to explore its local media ecosystem in three cities ' Philadelphia, San Jose, Calif., and Macon, Ga. They did research and then gathered community members and leaders to discuss the results. A popular feature of the media exploration exercise was a 'scavenger hunt,' wherein participants tried to find particular kinds of information, everything from how to get a driver's license to a search for the big local school board issue. The result: the'Community Information Tookit, a workbook for community members who want to hold similar media learning sessions in their cities.

'It was clear that people are eager to learn how changes in media are affecting their communities and what they can do about it. At the local workshops, many participants said they wanted to stay involved to help improve news and information flows. We think the best conversations are those focusing on a particular aspect of a community's information system ' education news, or health information, or City Hall news ' the more targeted you can be the better. The information ecosystem is vast, and it is easy for folks to get lost in the woods if they aren't considering just one aspect of the system.' ' Mayur Patel, Director of Strategic Assessment Assistant to the President John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Bringing people and experts together is a good way to better understand the information flow and the needs in your community.

The'Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the'Community Foundation of South Wood County (Wisc.) convened major community gatherings to stoke discussion of local information needs and cement partnerships that drive their information projects.

As a result, the Buffalo foundation now has more than 150 local partner organizations that participate in its information project,'GrowWNY, a website focusing on green opportunities and environmental protection in western New York State. South Wood County's convening focused on community information needs and the digital divide.

Tomorrow: 2. Run a Contest to Find New Voices Previously: Five things you need to know

1.'This is everyone's issue

2.'You can build on what you're already doing

3.'You can start without a lot of money

4.'Journalism requires independence

5.'Digital media must be targeted to produce impact

Stay tuned for more ideas. The full booklet will be available as a pdf on this site later this week and in print in April at the annual conference of the Council on Foundations. The booklet is sponsored by the Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation. Has your foundation invested in news and information efforts? Do you have questions about media grant making? Please tell us about them in the comments.

Community Information Toolkit

Feb. 19, 2011, 1:53 p.m., Posted by Robertson Adams

The Community Information Toolkit will help community leaders like you harness the power of information to advance their goals for a better community. It offers a process and a simple, easy-to-use set of tools to help you take stock of your community’s news and information flow and take action to improve it.

Please visit www.infotoolkit.org

Reports From The Field 2011

Feb. 19, 2011, 8:38 a.m., Posted by Robertson Adams

Three years into the Knight Community Information Challenge, a new report looks at how community and place-based foundations are helping to inform and engage their communities.

The report, by FSG Social Impact Advisors, highlights:

• How the field is getting involved: Community and place-based foundations are increasingly engaging in both grant making and non-grant making activities that support community information projects.

• What opportunities are emerging: This new work is leading to new impact and offering new opportunities for a heightened leadership role for foundations.

• How foundations are making progress: Community and place-based foundations and their partners are beginning to see outcomes both online and on the ground in their communities.

• Where challenges remain: While foundations are making progress in reaching and engaging their communities, many projects continue to face two critical challenges: building effective partnerships and addressing sustainability.

Download the report: FSG_Reports-from-the-field-2011.pdf (PDF)

Idea #5 for media grant making - Target digital media for impact

Feb. 18, 2011, 5:11 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This is part of a series of excerpts from our new booklet "Journalism and Media Grant Making."

Five things you need to know: 4. Journalism requires independence

If your foundation decides to pursue a traditional journalism project, do your homework to understand the values that shape journalism and distinguish it within the larger field of media. It’s a good idea to have people or organizations involved who have a strong journalism background. Accuracy, fairness, independence – these things matter to journalists. You can fund their news organizations, but you can’t dictate their stories. A good journalism code of ethics can be found on the website of the Society of Professional Journalists. It calls upon journalists to resist special interests “and their pressure to influence news coverage.”

Community foundations doing special news and information projects face the same decisions of how independent their work should be. The Pittsburgh Foundation, for example, is creating a new news organization that will produce investigative journalism. In order to underscore editorial independence, the foundation will fund a separate organization rather than creating a project within the foundation.

“We recognized early in the process that the independence of our journalism project was critical to our success, and we decided that our project would operate within an independent nonprofit organization rather than as part of The Pittsburgh Foundation. In order to build the trust necessary to allow the public to rely upon the information provided by the project’s investigative journalists, there has to be the appearance and reality of objectivity and independence. The community foundation agenda, however well intentioned and noble, is still an agenda.”

– Jeanne Pearlman, Senior Vice President for Program and Policy, The Pittsburgh Foundation

Tomorrow: 5. Digital media must be targeted to produce impact

Previously:

Five things you need to know

1. This is everyone's issue

2. You can build on what you're already doing

3. You can start without a lot of money

Stay tuned for more ideas. The full booklet will be available as a pdf on this site next week and in print in April at the annual conference of the Council on Foundations. The booklet is sponsored by the Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation.

Has your foundation invested in news and information efforts? Do you have questions about media grant making? Please tell us about them in the comments.

Idea #4 for media grant making: Journalism requires independence

Feb. 18, 2011, 5:10 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This is part of a series of excerpts from our new booklet "Journalism and Media Grant Making."

Five things you need to know: 4. Journalism requires independence

If your foundation decides to pursue a traditional journalism project, do your homework to understand the values that shape journalism and distinguish it within the larger field of media. It’s a good idea to have people or organizations involved who have a strong journalism background. Accuracy, fairness, independence – these things matter to journalists. You can fund their news organizations, but you can’t dictate their stories. A good journalism code of ethics can be found on the website of the Society of Professional Journalists. It calls upon journalists to resist special interests “and their pressure to influence news coverage.”

Community foundations doing special news and information projects face the same decisions of how independent their work should be. The Pittsburgh Foundation, for example, is creating a new news organization that will produce investigative journalism. In order to underscore editorial independence, the foundation will fund a separate organization rather than creating a project within the foundation.

“We recognized early in the process that the independence of our journalism project was critical to our success, and we decided that our project would operate within an independent nonprofit organization rather than as part of The Pittsburgh Foundation. In order to build the trust necessary to allow the public to rely upon the information provided by the project’s investigative journalists, there has to be the appearance and reality of objectivity and independence. The community foundation agenda, however well intentioned and noble, is still an agenda.”

– Jeanne Pearlman, Senior Vice President for Program and Policy, The Pittsburgh Foundation

Tomorrow: 5. Digital media must be targeted to produce impact

Previously:

Five things you need to know

1. This is everyone's issue

2. You can build on what you're already doing

3. You can start without a lot of money

Stay tuned for more ideas. The full booklet will be available as a pdf on this site next week and in print in April at the annual conference of the Council on Foundations. The booklet is sponsored by the Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation.

Has your foundation invested in news and information efforts? Do you have questions about media grant making? Please tell us about them in the comments.

Idea #3 for media grant making - You can start without a lot of money

Feb. 16, 2011, 12:11 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This is one in a series of excerpts from our new booklet "Journalism and Media Grant Making," a primer for foundations that want to get started.

Five Things You Need to Know: 3. You can start without a lot of money

You don’t have to spend a lot of dollars to dip a toe in the water.

You can fund coverage by an existing media outlet, as The George Gund Foundation does with grants of $40,000-$50,000 a year to support news coverage of the Great Lakes region on National Public Radio.

Or you can help put local news start-ups on a path to sustainability by expanding their audiences, as The Chicago Community Trust has done with grants of $30,000 to $60,000 to emergent local news organizations.

Foundation investments in media come in all shapes and sizes. For example, the West Anniston Foundation in Alabama hosts a weekly radio call-in show devoted to industrial pollution at a cost of $15,000 a year. The Park City Foundation in Utah, invested $80,000 (plus ongoing costs) to create parkcitygreen.org, which enables residents to calculate their carbon footprint and figure out ways to conserve.

ACT for Alexandria foundation is creating an online forum for community problem solving for $35,000.

In the digital age, news and information involve a wide variety of sources and partners that go well beyond traditional news organizations. Today, community news and information providers include traditional media, public media, nonprofits, universities, government, libraries, schools, businesses and citizens themselves.

The Black Hills Area Community Foundation in South Dakota, for example, is working with local libraries to create a “knowledge network” to help keep citizens informed. “Healthy communities depend on formal and informal information networks to enable citizens to learn what they need to know in a timely way. Focusing on local libraries as community information hubs, the Black Hills Knowledge Network aggregates content from local governments, media, nonprofits and citizen journalists to create a reliable information hub for ‘everything local.’”

– Eric Abrahamson, Board Member, Black Hills Area Community Foundation

Creating an independent professional journalism site can be at the multimillion-dollar end of the cost spectrum. (Happily, the best of such sites are finding ways to bring in operating revenue so they don’t rely solely on grants.)

Regardless of the size of your investment, you must plan for the project’s sustainability from the outset. That means helping build connections among the content, its curators and the community – connections that will bring in cash.

Having diverse revenue sources may be critical to success in the long term. Help your staff or your partner plan and organize donor or memberships drives. Consider advertising or sponsorships by local businesses. Think about revenue from memberships, like the public broadcasting fund-raising model, or organizing events or training for local businesses and community organizations that need help with digital media themselves. Ask your partner if it has the right kind of donation-soliciting software. Remember: Local media live on local support. Foundations can start media; communities sustain media.

“We created NJ Spotlight as a separate entity because we wanted to inculcate a small- business culture among the principals and employees. We think it is important to approach the effort as an entrepreneurial one rather than as a ‘foundation program.’ It was vital to bake the for-profit goals of profit sharing and ownership into the DNA of the effort from the beginning.”

– Hans Dekker, President, Community Foundation of New Jersey

Tomorrow: 4. Good journalism requires independence

Previously:

Five things you need to know

1. This is everyone's issue

2. You can build on what you're already doing

Stay tuned for more ideas. The full booklet will be available as a pdf on this site next week and in print in April at the annual conference of the Council on Foundations. The booklet is sponsored by the Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation.

Has your foundation invested in news and information efforts? Do you have questions about media grant making? Please tell us about them in the comments.

Idea #3 for media grant making - You can start without a lot of money

Feb. 16, 2011, 7 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan

This is one in a series of excerpts from our new booklet "Journalism and Media Grant Making," a primer for foundations that want to get started.

Five Things You Need to Know: 3. You can start without a lot of money

You don’t have to spend a lot of dollars to dip a toe in the water.

You can fund coverage by an existing media outlet, as The George Gund Foundation does with grants of $40,000-$50,000 a year to support news coverage of the Great Lakes region on National Public Radio.

Or you can help put local news start-ups on a path to sustainability by expanding their audiences, as The Chicago Community Trust has done with grants of $30,000 to $60,000 to emergent local news organizations.

Foundation investments in media come in all shapes and sizes. For example, the West Anniston Foundation in Alabama hosts a weekly radio call-in show devoted to

IMPACT: A Guide to Evaluating Community Information Projects

Feb. 15, 2011, 2:18 p.m., Posted by Robertson Adams

Mayur Patel, Director of Strategic Assessment and Assistant to the President

 


Evaluating Community Info Projects.pdf (PDF)

Community information projects share a desire to inform and/or engage their communities. Most of these news and media projects take advantage of online, digital forms of communication (e.g., websites, Facebook groups or wikis), which in some cases is also integrate with offline approaches to sharing information and connecting people. The universe of community information projects includes a wide range of activities, but many focus on one or a few of the following:

News: Strengthening credible professional news sources.

Voice: Providing places where residents (e.g., youth, educators, the community at large) can share news and information with their communities.

Capacity: Building the capacity of individuals and/or organizations to address information needs and use digital tools.

Awareness: Creating awareness campaigns about community issues.

Action: Providing platforms for civic engagement and action.

In developing your community information project – whether to give voice to underserved communities or supporting an ongoing effort to deliver timely, reliable news and reporting – you may be asking yourself:

• How do I know which outcomes to evaluate? • What can I learn from analyzing website or social media data? • How do I make sense of the vast amount of online information that’s available? • What is needed to answer the question: “Are we having an impact?” • How can I use evaluation to strengthen our project and communicate its value to others?

This guide provides insight into these questions and others.

How can funders can get started making media grants? Build on what they're already doing

Feb. 15, 2011, 10:53 a.m., Posted by Marika Lynch

This is the second in a series of excerpts from our new booklet "Journalism and Media Grant Making." Based on the experiences of foundations that are making media grants, it's a primer for foundations that want to get started.

Five Things You Need to Know: 2. You can build on what you’re already doing

News and information efforts can bolster initiatives that foundations are already investing in, rather than becoming a new program area.

The California Endowment, for example, is focused on health, particularly how neighborhood environments affect health in underserved communities. The endowment funds news and information projects that deal with health issues, including grants that allowed:

  • A local newspaper to hire a reporter to exclusively cover community health ($50,000 to $100,000 per year).
  • An emerging nonprofit news organization to increase its focus on community health ($75,000).
  • A community access cable outlet to work with youth to cover community health issues ($50,000).
  • Public radio to report on health issues and make its health coverage more prominent ($300,000).

The result? The issue in which the endowment is heavily invested gets a higher profile as well as greater reach and potential impact.

“Our foundation has a place-based strategy focused on community health, with a strong emphasis on youth engagement. Our media grant making supports this strategy by funding local projects in our targeted communities aimed at increasing the quantity and quality of news coverage about community health issues. For example, in Sacramento, we support a Neighborhood News Bureau project created by Access Sacramento, the local community access cable foundation. Through this project, news bureaus have been set up at two nonprofit organizations, where youth report on community health news and train community members in how to create their own media. Access Sacramento’s partnerships with local mainstream media organizations, including the daily newspaper, provide a channel through which these new stories and voices can reach a wider audience.” – Mary Lou Fulton, Program Officer, The California Endowment

Similarly, the Cleveland Foundation has invested heavily in creating a youth support network, MyCom (short for My Commitment, My Community). The missing ingredient? The voices of young people in the mainstream. So the foundation is creating MyMedia, a $146,000 program that will train youths in media and make their work available to local news organizations.

“One of the distinctive aspects of MyCom is youth engagement, and we truly believe that youth voice is an essential, but often missing, element in our community dialogue. For that reason, we wanted to create a program that specifically addressed this void and allowed our youth to have a voice in the issues that matter most in their lives. The MyMedia program was created under the MyCom umbrella to give youth the tools to participate more fully in our community’s dialogue while building their credibility as knowledgeable resources for local media.”

– Ronald Richard, President and CEO, Cleveland Foundation

Tomorrow: 3. You can start without a lot of money

Previously:

Five things you need to know

1. This is everyone's issue

Stay tuned for more ideas. The full booklet will be available as a pdf on this site next week and in print in April at the annual conference of the Council on Foundations. The booklet is sponsored by the Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation.

Has your foundation invested in news and information efforts? Do you have questions about media grant making? Please tell us about them in the comments.

 

Akron Library uses technology to engage special needs kids

Feb. 15, 2011, 9:47 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Akron Program Director Jennifer Thomas

A Knight grant to the Stow-Munroe Falls public library in Ohio is helping the library use technology to teach special needs kids.

During a recent story time session, a teacher used an iPad application that "turns the tablet computer into a sort of cross between an Etch A Sketch and a Wooly Willy magnetic toy," the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

The children traced their fingertips across their screens to make stars appear in the path they'd drawn and then shook the iPads to make the stars disappear. They experimented to draw shapes and make the stars twirl.''Those are cool, aren't they?'' Gamble asked. The kids were too engrossed to answer.

Knight Foundation is helping libraries in Akron and 27 other cities become true digital community centers that help foster informed and engaged communities.

Read more about the Akron program.

Journalism and media grant making - Build on what you're already doing

Feb. 15, 2011, 8:04 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan

This is the second in a series of excerpts from our new booklet "Journalism and Media Grant Making." Based on the experiences of foundations that are making media grants, it's a primer for foundations that want to get started.

Five Things You Need to Know: 2. You can build on what you’re already doing

News and information efforts can bolster initiatives that foundations are already investing in, rather than becoming a new program area.

The California Endowment, for example, is focused on health, particularly how neighborhood environments affect health in underserved communities. The endowment funds news and information projects that deal with health issues, including grants that allowed:

  • A local newspaper to hire a reporter to exclusively cover community health ($50,000 to $100,000 per year).
  • An emerging nonprofit news organization to increase its focus on community health ($75,000).
  • A community access cable outlet to work with youth to cover community health issues ($50,000).
  • Public radio to report on health issues and make its health coverage more prominent ($300,000).

The result? The issue in which the endowment is heavily invested gets a higher profile as well as greater reach and potential impact.

“Our foundation has a place-based strategy focused on community health, with a strong emphasis on youth engagement. Our media grant making supports this strategy by funding local projects in our targeted communities aimed at increasing the quantity and quality of news coverage about community health issues. For example, in Sacramento, we support a Neighborhood News Bureau project created by Access Sacramento, the local community access cable foundation. Through this project, news bureaus have been set up at two nonprofit organizations, where youth report on community health news and train community members in how to create their own media. Access Sacramento’s partnerships with local mainstream media organizations, including the daily newspaper, provide a channel through which these new stories and voices can reach a wider audience.” – Mary Lou Fulton, Program Officer, The California Endowment

Wisconsin community foundation forms innovative partnership with MIT

Feb. 14, 2011, 4:02 p.m., Posted by Michele McLellan

The Community Foundation of Greater South Wood County has formed an innovative partnership with the MIT Media Lab’s Center for Future Civic Media. Together they are creating a community lab that tests ways to match digital technology with citizen information needs and community challenges.

“We provide the MIT Media Lab with a ‘community lab’ within which technology experiments to foster civic engagement can be created and tested. The Lab benefits from our foundation’s networks, reputation in the community and holistic approach to re-development,” said Kelly Lucas, President and CEO of the community foundation.

A highly ambitious and innovative project is One.me, currently being designed to better coordinate services for low-income and unemployed individuals and families and focused on networking support agencies.

The Center for Future Civic Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) proposed creating One.me. Lucas notes that MIT’s Rick Borovoy “turned the question of information on its head” by suggesting that the information flow be centered on individual clients, enabling them to determine voluntarily what information would be shared.

Journalism and media grant making - ideas to help you get started

Feb. 14, 2011, 1:16 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

This is the first in a series of excerpts from our new booklet "Journalism and Media Grant Making." Based on the experiences of foundations that are making media grants, it's a primer for foundations that want to get started.

Five Things You Need to Know: 1. This is everyone's issue

No matter what you are trying to do in your community, you probably can’t get it done without a healthy flow of news and information. Foundations committed to media and journalism grants consider them an essential component of their programming efforts.

After all, how can a city engage in development issues if no one knows where or when new building is planned? How can the water be cleaned if no one knows it’s dirty? How can schools be improved if people don’t understand why they are failing? Quality news and information is an essential element of effective citizen engagement.

The William Penn Foundation has funded $3 million in journalism grants since 2000, including $800,000 for Plan Philly, an independent online news organization that covers planning and development and works to engage citizens in discussions about the future of Philadelphia.

Feather Houstoun, president of the William Penn Foundation, says the project has created civic debate about issues that previously went uncovered.

“Our early grants for journalism came directly out of our program interests in public education and urban planning, and at the time, we would not have considered ourselves a 'journalism funder.' The impact those news projects had on the success of our grant-making strategies taught us that journalism could be a powerful tool to increase civic debate and public accountability – key elements that underpin most of our desired goals.

“When PlanPhilly started filming and posting every zoning board and planning commission meeting, the behavior in those meetings changed dramatically. The mere fact that officials knew they’d be presented in unedited form on the Internet within hours made a huge difference to the quality of discussion at those meetings.”

– Feather Houstoun, President, William Penn Foundation

Tomorrow: 2. You can build on what you're already doing

Stay tuned for more ideas. The full booklet will be available as a pdf on this site next week and in print in April at the annual conference of the Council on Foundations. The booklet is sponsored by the Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation.

Has your foundation invested in news and information efforts? Please tell us about them in the comments.

Update on the second round of the Knight News Challenge

Feb. 11, 2011, 5:16 p.m., Posted by John Bracken

Last week we began reviewing the 364 Knight News Challenge applications we invited into the contest's second round. While we don't award prizes for making it past the fist round, being selected from among a field of 1,641 is an accomplishment in and of itself. Second round entrants include major commercial and noncommercial news organizations that you've heard of as well as unaffiliated individuals and smaller organizations. Countries represented in the field include Nigeria, the Philippines, Serbia, South Africa and India. (You can read, comment upon and rate the applications in the Open Category'here.)

John BrackenOver the next month we'll carefully review each of the entries. We'll look at the level of innovation, consider the value of the idea expressed, and evaluate the ability of the applicant to carry out the project. As in the first round, Jose Zamora and I will be assisted by a group of outside readers from'a variety of backgrounds, including web start-ups, public media, government, newspapers, nonprofit organizations and academia. We've also involved some of our Knight Foundation colleagues as reviewers. (We'll share the list of names at the end of the contest.)

We met with the reviewers late last week. We discussed Knight Foundation's rationale for the News Challenge and the criteria and categories we've set out this year (much of which is described in the contest's FAQs.) Then, we spent time reading applications and sharing views and opinions on innovation. We also sought the participants' ideas on how we might conduct the News Challenge in the future.

The independent readers are paid as advisers to the Foundation. They are not final decision makers: they offer their views on which proposals they like and why. Jose and I will then weigh their opinions, assert our own, seek advice from our Foundation colleagues and review the comments left on the open applications. Out of that, we will settle on a set of 50-60 finalists by mid-March.

Though we're still early in our reading of the full applications, I'm excited by the ideas and people I'm seeing in the applications. Our challenge is going to be winnowing the 364 number down, not finding ideas that excite us. That's a good problem to have.

Several of you who did not make the second round have asked us for guidance on improving your proposals. This is something we've done in the past, and we intend to do this year as well, though we aren't able to do so right away. If you would like access to our comments, please send an email to the news challenge mailbox. Thanks for your patience.

Detroit is "a city that's willing to work for its survival"

Feb. 9, 2011, 6:19 p.m., Posted by Trabian Shorters

'Now we're from America but this isn't New York City or the Windy City or Sin City and we're certainly no one's Emerald City,' says the voiceover of a moving Superbowl ad that seemed to be about Detroit's toughness and pride rather than about a luxury car.

The ad was a hit but I had just spent a week in Detroit meeting with friends and grantees in the midst of a snow storm that the locals shrugged off as 'only' dropping 8-12 inches of snow.

So you need to hear me when I say that's Detroit swag. There are people who LOVE Detroit! Young do-it-yourselfers are choosing this city over any place else because they are feeling Detroit.

20-something Emily Doerr, who plans to open a hostel in the city this spring, brims with affection when she says 'Detroit is a gritty defiant place and it's not like any other city. It's beautiful but strong. Gritty, defiant, unique and cool is an attractive combination to young people.'

No one in Detroit pretends that this is a golden age but they quickly tell me that they don't want to live anywhere else.

'I want to be here when it turns' says Osvaldo (Ozzie) Rivera. He grew up on the South side. For 57 proud years he's seen the cycles of hope and disappointment and still maintains that the next few years are a critical juncture for Detroit.

'I don't use the word desperation because that denies the presence of hope. It's better to say that people here are really willing to try a different way now.'

He must be right. There are plans underway to shrink the city, turn as much as 1/3rd of the town into green spaces, build a rail-system through the heart of motown, allow entrepreneurs to develop the neighborhoods in which they live.

Pamela Hurtt, a native Detroiter who is a consultant to the New Economy Initiative says it this way 'The biggest description of Detroit is that she's very resilient. She often forgets the real gem that she is. She forgets that her DIY spirit launched so many industries in the country. She put cars on the streets; she made music that blended people together.'

Apparently she still does.

The troubles of the city haven't gone away. There's still a deficit, record unemployment and a fight for the future on almost every front. But that's one of the truths about Detroit. Anyone who has lived through it knows that things fall apart and it's up to us, all of us, to pull them back together. So rather than curse the darkness, the future is in walking toward the light.

That idea resonates with Marco Eadie, who grew up in Indian Village, runs Maverick Media and said that Detroit's future is with the doers.

'When you show that people in a community actually do care enough to roll up their sleeves and take care of their community, that can attract corporate involvement as well.'

Rishi Jaitly, who moved to Detroit a year ago with his wife Anuja who is a Detroit-native says 'Detroit-Love' runs deeper and wider than you might assume. He and his wife founded Michigan Corps to build a global network of business leaders from Michigan who support education and entrepreneurship in Michigan.

'Whenever I've called these leaders on the phone, the response is Rishi, I'm in. And they aren't talking just about the company they run. They are personally in. And that's what we want.'

With this much love and power coursing around the city, it gets easy to catch a case of hope yourself. That's why Knight Foundation is willing to bet on the creative people like these who inform and engage their neighbors, friends and fellow Detroiters in efforts to design and create this community's future.

Whether it's the corridor in midtown, the public projects out of court-town, the Internet access projects in libraries and the north end or the entrepreneurial partnerships of the NEI, we are backing those who inform and engage this community in its own interests.

But no one believes its going to be easy. In fact, its going to be very, very hard. But hard isn't new to this city. Detroiters have stared impossible square in the face for 30-years and are still daring it to blink first.

It's a proud city. It's a tough city. It's a gritty city. But more than that, it's a city that's willing to work for its survival.

Detroit has swag.

'This is the motor city; this is what we do.'

ACTionAlexandria launches; hub for community engagement, positive action in Alexandria, VA

Feb. 9, 2011, 12:34 p.m., Posted by Susan Mernit

"The American barn raising tradition arose out of necessity. Neighbors came together to help neighbors build an essential element of family and community life because constructing such a large building required many hands. No one can do it alone. "

These are the opening words of the brand, spanking new About page of ACTion Alexandria, a new civic engagement and community-focused web site launched, after more than a year of work and planning, by ACT Alexandria, a vibrant--and active--community foundation in Alexandria, Virginia that has played a strong role in disbursing funds, planning for the future, and growing civic leadership in Alexandria, VA.

Launched in phases over the past year (the blog went live in September 2010), ACTion Alexandria was the brainchild of ACT Executive Director John Porter , Program Director Brandi Yee, and a working group of local community members who saw the need for a site that would connect people to causes in an action-oriented way at the same time it supported discussion and debate.

How can foundations make the challenge match requirement? Knight's Susan Patterson answers

Feb. 9, 2011, 8:15 a.m., Posted by Susan Patterson

The Knight Community Information Challenge is accepting applications from community and place-based foundations seeking matching funding for news and information projects. Join us at 4 p.m. Thursday at www.informationneeds.org/chat for an online Q and A session with Knight program staff, to ask your questions about the challenge.

Below, Program Director Susan Patterson answers an often-asked query.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susan Patterson

One of the first questions many foundations have when considering an application to the Knight Community Information Challenge is: How can we make the match requirement?

The good news is: Many different ways.

Knight wants to build a partnership with our foundation grantee but wants you to have “skin in the game.” We also understand that many community foundations have limited unrestricted dollars to invest. What we need from you is the commitment to meet the match and a plan and fairly quick timetable for doing so, once your proposal has been approved.

Knight and Mozilla Foundations launch partnership to advance media innovation

Feb. 7, 2011, 11 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Technology changes fast.'Technology'companies are built to handle continuous change. News organizations, even new ones, often are not.'These'facts'are a challenge, but also a great opportunity'to promote quality journalism and'media'innovation.

Years ago, foundations helped place journalism professors in newsrooms'and'journalists in universities to bridge the education-profession gap'and we wondered' What if we'did the same for technology? What if we could help expand the field of media innovation'by building a'bridge between the technology and the news community?

First we had to find a partner and'Mozilla ''with its mission of'openness, innovation and opportunity online ''looked like the'perfect partner for the job.'Mozilla developed the popular, free open-source'Firefox web browser, managed that into a multimillion dollar nonprofit,'with around'20,000 volunteers'and over'400 million users worldwide,'demonstrating an ability to solve many difficult technological problems in open ways.

Today we announce the Knight-Mozilla News Technology partnership,'a $2.5 million project,'featuring news technology fellowships and an innovation challenge.'The partnership will'accelerate media innovation by'solving technological challenges, developing new news products and services'of the Web'and'embedding technologists in news organizations.'Everything done through the Knight-Mozilla Innovation Challenge and by Knight-Mozilla Fellows will be open, providing knowledge, solutions and'open-source'products that are valuable and useful to the whole field.

This partnership spurs media innovation and helps news organizations facing the same or similar challenges'understand how to solve them. Strategically, this aligns with'recommendation number one of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy to direct efforts toward innovation that promotes quality journalism.

How it works:

The'partnership will kick off with an'open'innovation challenge, reaching to a mix of creative thinkers interested in solving journalism challenges. 'Dozens of challenge winners will participate in an online learning lab and in-person prototype-building event to brainstorm and build out ideas.

Then, 15 Mozilla-Knight News Technology Fellows will be embedded in newsrooms to help solve digital challenges. By providing world-class open-source news solutions that ' ultimately ' any news organization can use for free, the Knight-Mozilla Fellows aim to demonstrate the value of open web technologies and spur their adoption across the news industry.

To launch the partnership'Knight Foundation and Mozilla'recruited the pilot newsrooms, which'include the Boston Globe, the BBC, The Guardian and'Zeit'Online.

News organizations that would like to host fellows should contact'Nathan James at Mozilla.

Still in its early stages, the partnership will announce more details and calls for participation later this spring. Sign up for the program's list serve to get involved. Learn more now on Mozilla's blog, and on the blog of Mozilla's project lead Nathaniel James? and Philip Smith.

You can also read about Mozilla and media in recent blog posts from Mark Surman, Executive Director of Mozilla.

Knight Foundation's Press Release.

Apply now for the Knight Arts Challenge Miami

Feb. 7, 2011, 10 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Knight Arts Challenge Miami 2011 South Florida - the doors are open. 'For the next month, we're accepting applications for the 2011 Knight Arts Challenge Miami ' a community-wide contest to fund the best ideas for the arts.

We're looking for innovative ideas that follow just three rules:

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

Take a look at our past winners to get the juices flowing. Then take your time, but not too long ' applications are due March 2.

Millions in arts funding is up for grabs. Is this your year?

Apply now.

Link TV's Egypt content a big draw: Why not carry it on cable?

Feb. 4, 2011, 3:21 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation's VP/Journalism Eric Newton was quoted today in the San Francisco Chronicle wondering why Link TV is not on cable. It's a question others have been asking as Link has become a premier place for seeing television feeds from Egypt, both because it is carrying Al Jazeera English and because of its 10-year-old Peabody-award winning news program launched with Knight funding, Mosaic.

Knight Arts Program profiled in New York Times

Feb. 4, 2011, 3:07 p.m., Posted by Marika Lynch

The New York Times has profiled Knight Foundation's Arts Program and its Random Acts of Culture series.

Opera Company of Philadelphia performs a Random Act of Culture. Courtesy: Vince Barone

The piece begins with a Random Act that popped up earlier this year in a Philadelphia market:

It was just another winter Saturday morning at the Reading Terminal Market, an expansive food hall at the heart of this city’s downtown. Toward noon people began flocking to the restaurants in the central court, creating such a din that nobody seemed to pay much mind when the sound of recorded music floated through the air. Suddenly a man standing in line at a cheese steak stand raised his arm with a flourish and turned to the crowd. “Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre” he sang in a thrilling baritone. Before anyone could figure out what was happening — that he had launched into the “Toreador Song” from Bizet’s “Carmen” — another man leaped onto a table across the court and took up the second verse. He was joined by a third man, who had seemingly wandered in from the crowd.

Read more in the Times, and watch more Random Acts of Culture here.

Knight News Innovation Lab launches at Northwestern

Feb. 3, 2011, 9 a.m., Posted by Marika Lynch

Today, Knight Foundation is announcing a new partnership with Northwestern University to create a news innovation lab. The project will bring journalists and computer scientists together to accelerate local media innovation and build partnerships with Chicago news orgs to help them use new technologies.

The first of its kind in the country, the Knight Lab is a joint initiative of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism and the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern.

'To advance journalism excellence in the digital age, we must use the tools of the digital age,' said Eric Newton, vice president of the journalism program at Knight Foundation. 'We hope this pioneering partnership between a school of journalism and a school of engineering will demonstrate how a major university can speed up media innovation in its surrounding community.'

Eric Newton introduces the Knight Lab in a video today.

One of the lab's goals is to work with open-source software created by Knight News Challenge projects and other grantees, in order to improve it so that it can easily be used by more outlets.

Knight, which is supporting the lab with $4.2 million, and Northwestern will host an online Q and A at 5 p.m. EST at http://kflinks.com/NorthwesternLaunch.

Read more in today's release, Nieman Lab or the Chicago Tribune.

Knight-funded JumpStart joins national effort to spur entrepreneurship

Feb. 2, 2011, noon, Posted by Knight Foundation

Northeast Ohio's JumpStart, which supports and funds high tech entrepreneurs, has been chosen to be part of the White House's new national job creation and economic growth initiative, called Startup America.

Today's Akron Beacon Journal summarizes the impact of the Knight-funded JumpStart's work , and the potential for the new initiative, Jumpstart America, to help build networks for high tech growth in other regions.

As the Obama administration's initiative unfolds, it is expected to reflect a shift away from using federal dollars to stimulate the economy and toward a business-oriented strategy geared to making the country more competitive in the global economy. That's a good fit for what JumpStart has been pursuing since its founding in 2004, with more than $20 million invested in 52 companies in Northeast Ohio.

 

Knight Foundation funded the Cleveland-based organization to expand to St. Paul, Duluth, Fort Wayne, Gary, Detroit and Akron.

Terese Coudreaut named human resources director

Feb. 2, 2011, 10:16 a.m., Posted by Marika Lynch

Terese Coudreaut is Knight Foundation's new human resources director.

Coudreaut previously worked for Knight as manager of workforce performance and development, where she created a metrics-based approach to determining success. Most recently, Coudreaut headed a global consulting practice at Alexander Proudfoot Co. that helped companies adapt to large-scale operational change.

Read more in today's release.

Tips for tracking community engagement online

Feb. 2, 2011, 7:28 a.m., Posted by Susan Mernit

For those who are building, launching and operating community-focused web sites, measuring community engagement is critical. But getting started with web analytics tools can be daunting, especially with a small team.

During the past month, Knight Community Information Challenge grantees have been meeting in a small community of practice on the topic of Community Engagement, discussing questions that include how to authentically measure engagement, how to evaluate how effective your social media strategies are, and how to measure impact of your program both online and in the real world.

The grantees involved with our circle are looking for ways to easily measure engagement, but are unsure what to do. One of the tactics we have been discussing, which is easy to put into practice, is to work with Google Analytics.  It is straightforward to add Google Analytics to a web site or blog with just a small bit of java-script added to the template.

These data sets can be significant as measures to help view the success of efforts to increase engagement and set quarter-by-quarter milestones. The metrics we have been discussing as the ones to look at  closely to measure engagement are the referral sources in the traffic section.