Knight Blog

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

My News21 experience

Aug. 20, 2012, 11:08 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Photo: Hundreds of thousands of voters took part in the June 5, 2012, Gov. Scott Walker recall election in Wisconsin. Many of them, including these voters at Rufus King High School in north Milwaukee, faced long lines. Photo by AJ Vicens/News21

Standing in an elementary school hallway in June in a north Milwaukee neighborhood, the importance of in-person reporting hit home.

“Why do they have to watch us vote?” said Jamila Gatlin, a woman who I was talking to about a group of poll watchers for my News21 story. Gatlin, an African American, was upset that three white poll watchers had each traveled hundreds of miles to sit in her neighborhood-polling place watching for fraud or other possible problems.

My story, about a poll watching training group from Texas that has spread nationwide in just three years, just got its opening scene.

Knight helps journalism educators experiment with digital projects

Aug. 19, 2012, 3:43 p.m., Posted by Amy Starlight Lawrence

In 2011 journalism educators talked about using – on campus – some of the free, open-source software that was starting to be released from Knight’s News Challenge projects.  The idea was that the latest technology could be easily adopted in ways that would be useful at the university or local community level and would help students and faculties learn to create digital projects.

With Knight Foundation support, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication launched a contest of mini-grants, available to the students and faculties of any journalism and mass communication school.  The intent was to reward innovative uses of the available software.

The call for proposals is already out for the second round of the competition:  The deadline is Sept. 10 – and there will be 10 mini-grants available for as much as $8,000 each.  The grants give students and faculty hands-on experience with digital software.

The first round of the competition is complete, and there are 10 projects off the ground.  

Welcoming TurboVote to Detroit

Aug. 15, 2012, 10:24 a.m., Posted by Rishi Jaitly


TurboVote helps young people register to vote on the Miami Dade College campus

When my colleague John Bracken, director of journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation, told me about TurboVote in January, I knew immediately that this exciting, new platform would resonate in Detroit.

What better way to advance Detroit’s civic entrepreneurial momentum than to empower thousands of people with an easy, seamless way to register, engage, and vote?

The TurboVote concept is simple: (1) via, voters check their registration status; (2) via the web, voters request pre-filled registration/absentee forms by mail; (3) local election authorities send mail-in ballots to voters; and (4) the TurboVote system sends text/e-mail reminders to voters about important local, state, and federal elections.

We knew we couldn’t do it alone so, along with the TurboVote team, we pounded the pavement this past spring and met with area universities who could promote the service to their students. In the end, four area universities signed up as launch partners for TurboVote Detroit: Wayne State University, the University of Michigan-DearbornMarygrove College, and Eastern Michigan University. Check out the press release to learn more.

We should all applaud the leadership of TurboVote and these universities who are advancing a more informed and engaged Detroit.

As with all of our other Detroit grants and initiatives, I’m especially excited that TurboVote meets Detroiters where they are to offer easy opportunities to connect, support, and participate in all of our city’s civic energy.