Knight Blog

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

Our global dreams and fears: News as emotion

Oct. 22, 2014, 6 a.m., Posted by Kalev H. Leetaru

Below, Kalev H. Leetaru, a data scientist and the past 2013-2014 Yahoo Fellow at Georgetown University, writes about reimagining news as emotion using the Internet Archives, which Knight Foundation supports

Description: C:\Users\leetaru\Desktop\GLOBALNET\PUBLICATIONS\GP-GDELT-KnightBlogPost-NewsEmotions\figure1-anxiety.png

Figure 1 - Intensity of the emotion “anxiety” in American television news over the last four years

The world’s news media isn’t merely a clinical chronology of global events: It is a lens onto the dreams and fears of our global world.  As journalists report on events from the mundane to the extraordinary, they do so through the lens of their own experiences, beliefs and views. Each unfolding detail is contextualized through the stories of those participating and affected. Coverage of a labor protest goes beyond the impersonal who, when and where, to the what and why, capturing the rich tapestry of emotional undercurrents that define human life.

What if we could quantitatively measure and visualize the emotion of the world’s news? Identifying areas where reporting on a disease outbreak devolves from concern to panic or where a previously downtrodden region suddenly finds a euphoric new vision for the future?  Creating a global “happiness” ranking of the world’s cities and identifying the topics that appear in the most positive and most negative light in every corner of the globe?  In short, what if we could reimagine the news not as a simple conveyer of facts, but as a coarse reflection onto the emotions, the dreams and fears, of global society? Last week we released a dataset that does just that. Here’s how we got there.

‘Knight Cities’: Jeff Risom of Gehl Architects on improving the quality of public life

Oct. 22, 2014, 6 a.m., Posted by Carol Coletta

Public life is making a comeback in U.S. cities after more than 50 years of decline, inspired, in large part, by the work of Gehl Architects in Copenhagen. Helping cities accelerate that movement and get the details of public space right is a special talent of Jeff Risom. He is partner and managing director of Gehl Studio, the U.S. subsidiary of Gehl Architects, where he oversees design, planning and research projects throughout the Americas. Gehl has worked with cities worldwide to use public space to shape public life.

Listen to my conversation with Jeff here. And sign up for the “Knight Cities” newsletter to get alerts as soon as new conversations are posted.

Five answers with Matt Voigt, saambaa

Oct. 21, 2014, 8 p.m., Posted by Sean O'Leary

Matt Voigt is the founder of saambaa, whose product enables media publishers to publish local information and entertainment content, publish it to a mobile app and derive additional revenue.  Saambaa is already working with 25 media companies, including Hearst, and a variety of local newspapers. Knight invested in a seed round for Saambaa via the Knight Enterprise Fund.

This article is cross-posted with permission from the Newspaper Association of America. Five Answers is a weekly series that features a member of the newspaper industry answering five questions. If you'd like to participate, email

Matt Voigt is the Chief Instigator at saambaa, which is supported by the Knight Enterprise Fund. Saambaa enables newsrooms to publish local information and entertainment content on a branded mobile app that helps them generate revenue and connect with a younger audience. 

Matt presented at NAA mediaXchange in March during the inaugural Accelerator Pitch Program

1) How do you read the newspaper - print, online and/or mobile? 
I haven't read a printed newspaper since March of 2009. I consume news 90% on mobile and 10% desktop. I can't share stories on print, and I share 20-30% of the stories I read with friends and family. I'm also always on the go, and it's kind of hard to fit a newspaper in my pocket. :)