Knight Blog

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

Announcing the next Knight News Challenge: Data

May 16, 2012, 11:45 a.m., Posted by John S. Bracken


Photo Credit: Flickr user Koen Vereeken

The Knight News Challenge is being offered three times this year, in short, focused rounds to better mirror the pace of innovation. Winners of Round 1, which focused on networks, will be announced June 18. Here, Journalism and Media Innovation Program Director John Bracken gives a preview on the upcoming Round 2.

We’re excited to announce that the next Knight News Challenge will focus on data.

Starting May 31 through June 21, we’ll be looking for ideas that help unlock the power of data, by collecting, processing, visualizing or otherwise making it available, understandable and actionable. Applicants - whether for-profit startups or non-profit ventures - will have 21 days to submit their projects.  

We had planned to make the second round a completely open call for innovative news ideas. But we received feedback from the advisers we gathered last month to review News Challenge applications that themes encourage sharper proposals and better ideas, and we decided to take their advice.

So, why data?

The world has always been complex, but we are now challenged with making sense of the rapidly increasing amounts of information that we are creating. According to IBM, nine-tenths of the world’s data has been created in the last two years. Cisco predicts that information generated by mobile devices will hit 130 exabytes in 2016 -  that’s the equivalent of 520,000 Libraries of Congress in one year. A report from McKinsey anticipates that the amount of data we generate will increase 40% annually. Facebook users alone add a billion pieces of content every 24 hours.

Knight News Challenge: Data is a call for making sense of this onslaught of information. “As data sits teetering between opportunity and crisis, we need people who can shift the scales and transform data into real assets,” wrote Roger Ehrenberg earlier this year.

Feet in Two Worlds reporters win ethnic media awards

May 15, 2012, 11:27 a.m., Posted by Lisa Williams


Feet In Two Worlds at the Ippies. From left: Von Diaz, Lan Trinh, Cristina DC Pastor, John Rudolph, Mohsin Zaheer.

Four participants in the Feet in Two Worlds project, which was funded by the Knight Community Information Challenge in 2010 via the New York Community Trust, won Ippies, which recognize excellence in ethnic media. 

Reporters from Feet in Two Worlds, which provides training for journalists from ethnic media and helps them find greater exposure in public radio, won more awards than any other single organization. 

Cristina Pastor won an award for her commentary on how cases like the one against Dominique Strauss-Kahn can play out in the asylum hearings of accusers. Lan Trinh won in the video category for her coverage of coverage of how Chinese-immersion schools are attracting both parents with Chinese heritage and those without who believe that the NYC language programs will give their children a leg up.  

Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska won an award in the audio category for her wonderfully atmospheric piece on rooftop pigeon-tenders in New York, which aired on NPR.  Von Diaz's story on the struggles of immigrant LGBT youth, which originally aired on Publig Radio International, also won an award. 

BME Challenge brings together Philadelphia’s black male leaders

May 15, 2012, 10:56 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

This summer, a new program focused on tapping into and better supporting mentorship opportunities in Philadelphia is set to launch.

Backed by a $400,000 investment from the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the program is led by several people involved in the BME Challenge, an effort to recognize, connect and invest in black males from all walks of life who engage others in making communities stronger.

Philly Roots aims to scale up the quality of grassroots mentoring by making sure mentors who work with young people are best equipped to help them achieve their goals.

Philly Roots brings together those already working on issues around mentoring in the Philadelphia community, like Rising Sons, an after school program where recent college graduates and college students 18-25 mentor young boys. Alex Peay received a BME Leadership Award earlier this year to help strengthen its operations. Rising Sons’ principal operations officer Mubarek Lawrence was brought in to co-chair Philly Roots. Brandon Brown, director of Youth & Family Services at Nu Sigma Youth Services, which advocates for improving the lives of young people in the community, is also a member of the Philly Roots Steering Committee.

One of the biggest factors for a young person’s success is having caring adults in their lives, said Steve Vassor, senior manager for quality assurance at the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, who serves as Lawrence’s co-chair for Philly Roots.  It’s why the organization he works for provided support to help launch the program. Vassor says the BME Challenge was crucial in helping bring the right people together to help build the program. He says it’s one of the few opportunities he’s been a part of that brings black men together from across different backgrounds:

“We need more of these opportunities for black men to come together and collaborate across their affiliations. BME is fantastic, it is one of the best networks and collaborations I have seen in a long time that provides such opportunities.”