Knight Blog

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

‘Open Journalism’ – has the time finally arrived?

Jan. 31, 2012, 1 p.m., Posted by Eric Newton

Miami’s winter holiday breezes are usually refreshing, but this year, particularly so, thanks to a discussion paper we saw in December from Melanie Sill for the University of Southern California.  Finally, influential journalists are talking more seriously about a basic question of the digital age: How can they go beyond just informing communities to actually engage them? Former Sacramento Bee editor and senior vice president Sill concludes that professional journalism can indeed be “transparent, responsive and enriched through vibrant two-way connections with a networked universe.” In “The Case for Open Journalism Now,” she details open, collaborative approaches gaining use at news organizations across the country.


Eric Newton, Senior Adviser to the President at Knight Foundation

What’s Open Journalism? I’d describe it as trading up from the industrial age one-way assembly-line idea of mass media to the 21st century, computer-age, two-way networked system of communication, the information world that is the one most of us really live in.  The open approach turn lectures into conversations. It means we celebrate not just our nation’s need to know but its need to tell. And newsrooms define communities not as “the great unwashed” but see them as a collection of many voices struggling to be heard.

Knight Community Info Challenge winners reflect a broad range of ideas and projects

Jan. 31, 2012, 9:04 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan


What is the Knight Community Information Challenge looking for? So far, the contest, offering matching funds to community and place-based foundations, has funded a wide variety of ideas – and Knight is always looking for fresh approaches.

In general, Knight is looking for projects that help fill community information needs, foster community engagement and help residents participate in the creation and sharing of news and information. 

It may be helpful to browse previous winners. But keep in mind that Knight is not wedded to any particular models of news and information.

This challenge also is not designed to help community or place-based foundations improve their media relations and marketing, or expand their own Web sites, important though these might be.

Here are examples of 10 types of projects the Challenge has funded:

Teaching digital literacy through game design

Jan. 30, 2012, 12:37 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

This Wednesday marks the first-ever Digital Learning Day, a nationwide celebration of innovative teaching and learning through digital media and technology.

World Wide Workshop, a Knight supported project, is partnering with the day’s organizers, Alliance for Excellent Education, to celebrate innovative teaching practices that make learning more engaging for students.


Middle school students create original games around civics-related issues as they develop science, technology, engineering and math knowledge, and digital literacy skills. 

Specifically, World Wide Workshop’s Globaloria Learning Platform is the first and largest social learning network for developing digital literacy, science, technology, engineering, and math knowledge (known as “STEM” learning) and global citizenship skills through game design.

Community Foundation of Greater South Wood County changes name to reflect the scope of its work

Jan. 30, 2012, 12:06 p.m., Posted by Michele McLellan

What’s in a name?

Plenty for one foundation that is revolutionizing its approach to leadership in its community.

That’s why the Community Foundation of Greater South Wood County in central Wisconsin has a new name: Incourage Community Foundation.

“Our work has grown and adapted to changes in our community in the last decade,” said Kelly Ryan Lucas, president and CEO of the foundation. “We’re really a community development organization that uses philanthropy as a tool to foster civic engagement and community improvement.”

Miami school gets One Laptop Per Child to help raise digital literacy

Jan. 27, 2012, 11:19 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

“How can you pretend you’re actually educating people to live in the 21st century if you’re not making them smart digitally?” asks Knight Foundation President and CEO Alberto Ibargüen.

That’s why more than 500 kids received brand-new laptops this morning at a school in Miami.

The distribution of the laptops at the Liberty City elementary school are part of an ongoing effort to level the digital playing field for its students.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto M. CarvalhoRodrigo A. Halaby, chairman and chief executive officer of One Laptop Per Child, and Knight Foundation President and CEO Alberto Ibargüen presented 525 laptops - one per child - at Holmes Elementary this morning.

Four ideas on how tech can increase civic engagement

Jan. 26, 2012, 3:12 p.m., Posted by Living Cities

Code for America

The following is written by Tracey Ross, program associate at Living Cities. It is crossposted from Living Cities' blog.

Over the past few years there has been a significant amount of energy and technical expertise focused on identifying and solving urban problems within the technology community. According to Jennifer Pahlka, founder and executive director of Code for America, nearly 550 people applied for one of their 26 fellowships to help cities create web-based solutions to civic problems. With hundreds of civic-minded web developers interested in improving cities, there is a growing sense of the untapped potential to use technology to drive civic change. On Thursday, Jan. 19, Living Cities hosted its first Trends in Focus forum to better understand how technology can increase the capacity for civic engagement, collective problem-solving and improved service delivery in cities for the benefit of low-income people.

Real time analysis of campaign ads will help inform voters before they head to polls

Jan. 26, 2012, 2:25 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

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Update: The first analysis of campaign ads was released on Jan. 30 and can be found on Wesleyan Media Project's website. The data informed coverage in a variety of media including NPRThe Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Miami Herald and USA Today, among others.

On Monday, just in time for the Florida primary, The Wesleyan Media project will release its first analysis of campaign ads in 2012 – shedding light on those attempting to influence the presidential election.

Knight Foundation is funding the project, the first in a series of grants to be announced this year to support new ways to deepen Americans’ engagement in elections and foster more informed communities.

The support for the projects is emerging from a meeting last fall, where Knight gathered a group of media thought leaders for a discussion about new ways for people to participate in elections through digital tools and content

We’ll be announcing more projects soon here on and @knightfdn.

Application period for 2012 Knight Arts Challenge Miami

Jan. 26, 2012, 10:37 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Highlights from the 2011 Knights Arts Challenge Miami awards ceremony

Dream big South Florida - it’s almost time to send in your best ideas for the South Florida arts!

On Tuesday, Feb 21. the application period for the next round of the Knight Arts Challenge Miami will officially open.

The challenge, now in its fifth year, is a community-wide contest to find the best ideas for the arts. It was created as a way to bring the South Florida community together through cultural opportunities. 


Foundations that focus on a place are eligible for the Knight Community Information Challenge

Jan. 25, 2012, 9:01 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan

The 2011 Knight Community Information Challenge Winners

The Knight Community Information Challenge is open to all community foundations in North America. It is also open to geographically-oriented foundations that have a place-based focus similar to a community foundation.

That’s because place-based foundations are in the best position to meet the core needs of their communities, including critical news and information needs.

Knight Community Information Challenge - A way to promote community engagement with news, info

Jan. 23, 2012, 11:57 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan

The Community Foundation of New Jersey, a 2011 Knight Community Information Challenge winner, on how it is meeting local information needs by investing in the nonprofit news site NJ Spotlight. 

The following is written by Michele McLellan and cross-posted from Knight Digital Media Center.

The Knight Community Information Challenge provides unique opportunities for community foundations and news innovators to partner in creating or improving projects that engage their communities in local news and information. Here are three things to consider if you have an idea for a challenge project:

Round V of the Community Information Challenge just opened, and applications will be accepted until Feb. 27.  (Disclosure: I am a Knight circuit rider and consultant to this initiative. I help foundations and partners hone their projects but have no role in assessing applications.)

Keep these points in mind:

Bringing opera to new audiences in Charlotte

Jan. 23, 2012, 8:55 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller


Madama Butterfly. Photo Credit: Opera Omaha

Nearly 4,000 people will have a chance to enjoy their first-ever opera performance in Charlotte this week - for free.

In effort to bring opera to new audiences, last fall Knight Foundation announced it would reserve all the seats to Opera Carolina’s Jan. 28 performance of Madama Butterfly and distribute the tickets to members of the greater Charlotte community who had never before attended an opera.

Tickets were distributed earlier this month on a first-come, first-served basis to those that had registered online in December.

Due to an overwhelming response to the request for tickets, an extra free performance was added on Jan. 24 to accommodate more first-time opera-goers.

This weekend go digital with Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Jan. 20, 2012, 2:11 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

This weekend, innovation in the arts continues in Detroit.

On Sunday, starting at 3:00 p.m, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will present a live digital simulcast of its performance, French Masters: Franck, Saint-Saëns and Debussy.

The simulcast is free to all online users who register.

Dennis Scholl, vice president/arts at Knight Foundation, blogged about the upcoming performance, writing the digital simulcasts are “one of our more exciting Detroit projects. The energy is amazing and you feel like you are there.”

UNC workshop to search for ways to increase accountability journalism

Jan. 19, 2012, 3:39 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller


The Old Well at UNC Chapel Hill. Photo courtesy Flickr user kf4lnq.

If you’re interested in identifying ways to increase local accountability journalism, you may want to tune into a discussion taking place in North Carolina on Friday.

Beginning at 9 a.m., the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy is holding a day-long workshop, which will be livestreamed to the public.

As a backdrop for its discussion, the workshop will examine the FCC’s 2011 report on community information needs, which identified the loss of newsroom positions in recent years as “a threat to the quality of civic information available in communities around the nation.”

Tomorrow’s workshop will be held three parts. In the morning, a round table discussion will identify gaps in accountability journalism in North Carolina. Next, representatives of Internet, cable and satellite television and mobile broadband service providers will discuss whether and how they could help to fill those gaps.

Why PRX, Knight created an accelerator for public media

Jan. 19, 2012, noon, Posted by Jake Shapiro

The following is written by Jake Shapiro, CEO of Public Radio Exchange. It is cross-posted from PBS MediaShift.

We announced PRX's partnership with the Knight Foundation to create the Public Media Accelerator about a month ago. Since then, it's become clear that the accelerator concept is new to many people in the non-profit and public media worlds, even as tech folks fret that accelerators have jumped the shark.

Our tagline for the Public Media Accelerator is "seeking mission-driven entrepreneurs changing media for good." We're in a time of remarkable technology innovation, and our goal is to channel the forces driving that growth towards public service media.

The two forces, the tech sector and public media, need each other: The tech sector will gain from public media's high-quality content, commitment to community, and public service mission; and public media will gain from technology's network efficiencies, professional and social connections, and radical new distribution paths.


Award recognizes leadership and contributions of Knight Commission on Athletics and The Admiral Center

Jan. 19, 2012, 9:40 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller


Silver Anniversary Award winners Amy Perko and David Robinson. Credit: NCAA Photos

The NCAA recently honored Knight Commission’s Amy Perko and former NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson for their professional and civic contributions that followed their time as college athletes.

Presented during the NCAA’s annual week-long convention, the Silver Anniversary Award recognizes six distinguished former student-athletes on their 25th anniversary as college graduates.

Perko, a former Wake Forest basketball player, was recognized in part for her efforts serving as the executive director of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

The commission, which Knight Foundation established in 1989, works to ensure that intercollegiate athletics programs operate within the educational mission of their colleges and universities.

Knight Community Information Challenge now accepting applications

Jan. 18, 2012, 9:46 a.m., Posted by Susan Patterson

By Susan Patterson, Knight Program Director/Charlotte

Today, Knight opens the door for applications in the fifth round of its Community Information Challenge, being accepted now at If previous years are any indication, we’ll get plenty of ideas from community and place-based foundations uniquely taking aim at meeting their community’s information needs.

In many communities, strengthening credible, professional news sources is the need. That’s the work supported by the Community Foundation of New Jersey with NJ Spotlight, and I-News, supported by The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County.

In other communities, the community foundations and the projects they have supported have focused more on digital tools for civic engagement and action. Such is the case for Envision Bay Area, supported by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and We The People supported by the Community Foundation for North Florida.

Opportunities for Leadership: Meeting Silicon Valley's Information Needs

Behind the scenes of @communityapps

Jan. 17, 2012, 1:07 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

In December, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Knight Foundation announced the winners of the 'Apps for Communities Challenge,'  which awarded $100,000 in prizes for software applications that bring actionable, local information to underserved communities.

"To provide applications of real value to low income Americans and others who are adopting broadband at a lower rate", is how Genachowski describes the primary purposes of the contest.

The three grand prize winners included apps to let bus riders know when their ride is arriving, connect the homeless to services and workers to jobs.

Second prize winner Curtis Chang, who won for Homeless-SCC, says it's the first time he has participated in a challenge like this, but he "wanted to get the idea of the app out there and this was perfect platform to share some of the innovation we're developing on a local level with other cities and counties that are experiencing similar problems with access to information."

Watch below to see interviews with the winners and insights on why the challenge was started.

Akron collaborative forms its first medical device company

Jan. 13, 2012, 12:53 p.m., Posted by Jennifer Thomas

The Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron recently announced the formation of APTO Orthopaedics, the first medical device company created by the institute.

APTO Orthopedics was formed in partnership with a pediatric surgeon at Akron Children's Hospital. Its device will address early onset scoliosis in children and eliminate multiple surgeries by using magnets to lengthen a spine implant for the condition.  


 Dr. Frank Douglas, President and Chief Executive Officer, Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron

At the announcement, Dr. Frank Douglas, president and CEO of the institute said: "APTO represents what [the institute] was formed to do: to fill clinical needs with innovative patient-centered products that can be commercialized to help fuel the Akron economy.

The Austen BioInnovation Insistute, supported by Knight, is a collaboration of five major clinical and academic institutions focused on making the Northeast Ohio region a leader in the use of polymer technology for patient-centered health care solutions.


Haiti earthquake illustrated ways new technolgy aids in disaster relief

Jan. 13, 2012, 11:03 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller


Infographic by Wm. Pitzer for Knight Foundation.

Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake illustrated ways that new technologies can help in disaster relief.

A new report issued yesterday - on the quake’s second anniversary - provides the first in-depth study of mobile giving behind the successful “Text to Haiti” campaign.

Real Time Charitable Giving” tells the story behind where, how, and why people contributed more than $43 million dollars to the disaster relief efforts.

Akron media center and website engage residents in new digital storytelling

Jan. 13, 2012, 8:57 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan

On Wednesday Jan. 18, Knight will begin accepting applications for the next round of its Knight Community Information Challenge. The contest engages community and place-based foundations in playing leading roles in meeting the information needs of their communities. This post is challenge winners The Akronist.

The Akron Community Foundation has formed a new partnership with the local public library that will raise the visibility the foundation’s multimedia training program.

akronA winner in the second Knight Community Information Challenge, the community foundation established the Akron Digital Media Center training program and companion website, The Akronist. The site displays the work of citizens who receive training in digital media as well as partner organizations.

YoungArts returns to Miami

Jan. 12, 2012, 1:48 p.m., Posted by Neil de la Flor


The following is cross-posted from

If you want to see the future of the arts in America, YoungArts Week will give you a glimpse into that future. This year, 152 of America’s brightest young artists from the visual, literary and performing arts are participating during YoungArts Week. And, it’s all taking place in Miami.

During this week-long event, these talented artists will partake in high-energy craft workshops, master classes with internationally recognized artists in their field and perform and/or exhibit their work. The top young artist in each field will receive a $10,000 award during a gala headlined by Robert Redford, Doug Aitken and Robert L. Lynch at the Gusman Center in downtown Miami.

The new mobile giver and the story behind millions in donations by text for Haiti

Jan. 12, 2012, 5:36 a.m., Posted by Lee Rainie


By Lee Rainie, Director, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

A new kind of charitable giver is emerging in the mobile age. 

A report underwritten by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has found that this donor is younger and more likely to be African-American or Latino than traditional donors. Moreover, new donors often use their mobile phones to make contributions through text messaging that is inspired by moving and sometimes distressing stories about people in crisis.

These findings have important implications for non-profits and philanthropies that depend on fundraising and the report particularly highlights how text giving is a spontaneous act, done on the spur of the moment and without a lot of background research on the organization to which the contribution is being made. 

The Wall: "a cutting-edge tool for civil debate"

Jan. 11, 2012, 2:45 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

This fall, as a way to encourage dialogue about the most critical issues facing Florida and the nation, the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida launched an interactive civil debate wall.

Known as “The Wall," the series of interconnected touch-screen panels allow students to share ideas and present solutions to pressing civic questions. 

The photo gallery below shows the wall in action.

Engagement Commons: A new tool to empower civic engagement

Jan. 11, 2012, 9:24 a.m., Posted by Nick Grossman

The Public Art App, available in Engagement Commons, allows users to discover art in various cities. 

In April, Civic Commons officially launched the Engagement Commons in beta. The site, which has curated more than 150 engagement focused app entries is now open to the community. It invites people to jump in, start trying it out, and submit ideas for how to make the platform even better. For the next phase, the site is looking to add more context, by providing the stories and narratives behind how these apps are facilitating results in communities. 

By Nick Grossman, Civic Commons Executive Director

With the explosion of open data, we’ve seen a proliferation of civic software aiming to get community information on everything from road closures to restaurant inspections into people’s hands.

The apps have great potential for engaging people in improving their communities. But often the people closest to the data -- city leaders and staffers -- have a difficult time finding and weeding through all the software to determine what’s right for both their needs and their community.

Increasing digital and media literacy in Charlotte

Jan. 10, 2012, 10:22 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Knight Foundation's efforts to support digital literacy in communities took a step forward last week when Queens University of Charlotte hosted a bootcamp session, which brought together local non-profits and students from the Knight School of Communication to learn about social media strategy.

55 finalists named in Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia

Jan. 10, 2012, 7:05 a.m., Posted by Donna Frisby-Greenwood



Fifty-five ideas for the Philadelphia arts have been chosen as finalists in the 2012 Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia. 1,267 applicants answered our question: “What’s your best idea for the arts in Philadelphia?” A diverse group, including individual artists, artist collectives, community groups, jazz and classical music organizations, theater companies and educational institutions, offered a wide array of innovative ideas.

Tuesday: Find out the 2012 finalists of the Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia

Jan. 6, 2012, 10:57 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller


Earlier this year, more than 1,000 artists and artist-run groups pitched their big ideas for the Philadelphia arts. And on Tuesday, we’ll be announcing the finalists of the 2012 Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia.

This year’s finalists offer a wide array of innovative ideas to engage and enrich Philadelphia’s communities.

Transforming downtown Miami into a center of science, art and learning

Jan. 5, 2012, 1:57 p.m., Posted by Matt Haggman


The ongoing effort to turn a large swath of downtown Miami’s bayfront into a center of science, art and learning has taken another important step.

Knight Foundation announced a $10 million challenge grant to the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. To be paid, the funds must be matched by an additional $20 million in funding. 

The pledge comes as the science museum, currently located in Coconut Grove, is poised to break ground next month on its new home in downtown’s Museum Park along Biscayne Bay. The Frost will rise alongside the under-construction Jorge M. Perez Art Museum and sit a block from the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, two institutions that each received $10 million in Knight support.

Three tech firms picked for Philadelphia media innovation incubator

Jan. 5, 2012, 11:20 a.m., Posted by John Bracken


(l to r) Ted Mann, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, SnipSnap, William Crowder, Managing Director, Minority Entrepreneur Accelerator Program (MEAP), DreamIt Ventures; Greg Osberg, Chief Executive Officer and Publisher, Philadelphia Media Network Inc.; Donna Frisby-Greenwood, Program Director/Philadelphia, Knight Foundation; RoseAnn Rosenthal, Chief Executive Officer and President, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania; Brendan McCorkle, Co-Founder, CloudMine and Keya Dannenbaum, Founder and Chief Executive Officer; ElectNext. Photograph By: Clem Murray, Philadelphia Media Network Inc.

Starting this week, three Philadelphia tech firms will take part in a new incubator helping to launch digital media startups in the nation’s fourth largest media market.

Here’s a little about the companies and their projects:

More than 30 college news sites start experimenting with revenue generation models

Jan. 5, 2012, 8:54 a.m., Posted by Benoit Wirz and Amy Starlight Lawrence


Only a few months after Knight announced it would offset the set-up costs for university publications to use the pay metering tool Press+, more than 30 school publications have signed up to try out the system.

Among these is The Statehouse File, a web-based publication covering Indiana state politics compiled by journalism students and staff at Franklin College. The Statehouse File can use the Press+ tool to require that readers not affiliated with the university pay for access to articles or request that they make donations. The Statehouse File plans to experiment with different levels of paid access to identify what makes the most sense, complementing its strategy of syndicating legislative coverage to other publications for a fee.