Knight Blog

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

Ohio nonprofit news site partners with ProPublica

July 31, 2012, 9:13 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan


Above: Inside the ProPublica newsroom. Photo credit Flickr user propublica.

The News Outlet, a two-time winner of Knight's Community Information Challenge based at Youngstown State University, has attracted an important partnership with ProPublica, a leading national investigative reporting organization.

Stephen Engelberg, managing editor of ProPublica, will help lead an Advanced Reporting course at Youngstown State University in the fall, working with students to report and produce investigative stories.

Engelberg said ProPublica is interested in sharing its expertise, and that the university’s open-access mission and heavy emphasis on investigative reporting make it a strong fit for the project, according to a press release about the partnership.

"With regional publications under financial strain, the question of how to train the next generation of investigative journalists is now a critical one. We are delighted to participate in this approach, which shows real promise,'' he said.

Engelberg will join Youngstown State University Journalism Professors Tim Francisco and Alyssa Lenhoff in leading the class. Francisco and Lenhoff are co-directors of The News Outlet, which won the Knight Community Information Challenge in 2010 and 2011 with support from the Raymond John Wean Foundation and the Youngstown Foundation.

The News Outlet was launched at Youngstown State University and has grown to become a joint venture among several other universities and professional media organizations in Ohio. The News Outlet’s student journalists produce enterprise and investigative stories that are shared on different platforms with news organizations, including local newspapers and public radio stations.

Nonprofit news site honored for excellence

July 30, 2012, 11:53 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan


The Lens, a two-time winner of the Knight Community Information Challenge, won big at this year's local Excellence in Journalism Awards. 

The site, supported by the Greater New Orleans Foundationreceived three first-place awards, including Best Local News Website., the site of the local Times-Picayune newspaper, came in second. 

The Lens also received first place for Best Investigative Story in Print as well as third place in this category and first for Best News Affiliated Blog in the annual contest, sponsored by the Press Club of New Orleans.

The awards came at the start of a busy week for the news media scene in New Orleans, which learned recently that its daily newspaper would publish only three days a week, starting in the fall.

The week ended with the announcement of formation of a new nonprofit news organization,, a collaboration of NPR, the University of New Orleans.

Growing citizen philanthropy in Philadelphia and Detroit

July 26, 2012, 12:09 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller


Detroiters gathered at Crank Up the Cause to learn more about Citizen Effect's Detroit4Detroit initiative. Photo Credit: Khaaliq Thomas for Citizen Effect.

Growing up, Clarence Wardell cultivated a love of learning and technology at the Detroit Area Pre College Engineering Program. So when he came across Citizen Effect’s Detroit4Detroit, a platform that helps people find projects that meet their interests and raise funds to support them, he immediately joined to help send one student from the Detroit area to spend a summer learning about engineering at the University of Michigan.

Through the platform, which is supported by Knight’s Technology for Engagement Initiative,  Wardell was able to leverage his existing social networks to raise $2,000 for the program. He was the first of 150 people participating in Detroit4Detroit to meet his fundraising goal.

Citizen Effect, part of a growing citizen philanthropy movement that seeks to democratize giving, is expanding to Philadelphia with the Philly4Philly campaign. Knight caught up Citizen Effect’s Founder and CEO Dan Morrison to find out what excites people about being engaged in local philanthropy efforts, how he defines success and more.

What do you mean by the term citizen philanthropist?

D.M: When you hear the word "philanthropists," you think of Gates, Rockefeller, MacArthur, Ford and other titans of industry.  But that's a vastly incomplete definition. A citizen philanthropist may not have a lot of money to give, but they have the passion to lead a critical community project and raise the money from their friends, family and social networks.

What excites people about being engaged with Citizen Effect?

D.M.: Results. When a citizen philanthropist holds an event or sends an email that results in donations, they get excited because their fundraising strategy is working. And when they receive photos of and a report on their completed project, they feel like they can change the world, because they in fact have.

What are some examples of what people in each city are up to?

D.M.: Michele Whitehead, a Detroit native, is raising money for a reading program for low income youth with Wellspring. She’s raised $1,250 of $1,500 via a walk-a-thon and received in-kind food and water donations from local businesses. Gerard Smith, a rising senior at Gross Point High School, heard about Detroit4Detroit's Crank Up the Cause on WDET and asked his dad to take him. He signed up to raise money for a music therapy program for homeless kids and has raised $785 of $1,000. Eli Kahn, a fellow at LIFT Philly (a Philly4Philly nonprofit partner) is one of the first Philly4Philly citizen philanthropists. As a child, he beat cancer and since has raised over $100,000 for cancer research at John's Hopkins University by having people donate used printer cartridges and recycling them.