Knight Blog

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

In two years, DocumentCloud becomes standard

Sept. 18, 2012, 7:44 a.m., Posted by Aron Pilhofer


Knight Foundation recently took a look at the 2009 Knight News Challenge winners, including the success of the project DocumentCloud. Here, one of the founders Aron Pilhofer talks about how the site became a standard tool for newsrooms in just two years.

It was four years ago when Eric Umansky, Scott Klein and I first met to discuss submitting a Knight News Challenge application to address the sorry state of document-based journalism.

Scott, who took notes of the meeting, summed up as follows: “This project will fight the “dark web” nature of source documents on the Web, in which documents are difficult to find and often disappear when a news organization is done telling a particular story.”

Eric proposed a name that everyone liked -- -- and we bought the domain the next day.

Our goals were modest: We hoped to create a platform that would encourage news organizations -- our own if nothing else -- to be more transparent by publishing source documents in a Web-friendly format. At that time, few newsrooms thought to publish documents online, and those that did used awful, bloated proprietary formats like Flash or PDF.

None of us dreamed that in August of 2012, would host more than 350,000 documents, comprising almost 5.5 million pages, for more than 650 organizations. We never imagined would be serving more than a million document views per week, with peaks of more than a million per day.

Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia: Now accepting applications

Sept. 17, 2012, 11:40 a.m., Posted by Valerie Nahmad Schimel


Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, street crowd. Photo by George Feder.

Today marks the year-three launch of the Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia, and we’re ready to hear your best ideas to engage and enrich the city’s vibrant arts scene. Applications are now being accepted right here  through Oct. 15. We believe the arts can engage and enrich communities and that your ideas can make an impact. That’s why the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is investing $9 million in innovative arts ideas. To date, 71 ideas have been awarded $5.4 million.What can these ideas look like? The possibilities are endless, and no idea is too large or too small. There are only three rules for the challenge:

1.    Your idea must be about the arts.

2.   Your project must take place in or benefit Philadelphia.

3.   You must find funding to match Knight’s commitment, within a year.

Over the course of the next four weeks, we’ll be counting down to the deadline, answering your questions through a town hall meeting and live web chat, and sharing the stories of previous Knight Arts Challenge winners to get you inspired. We hope you’ll take advantage and follow along right here.

Mark these on your calendar:

#DetroitShowcase: Innovators show off tech for engagement projects

Sept. 17, 2012, 5:32 a.m., Posted by Rishi Jaitly

Recently at Knight Foundation, we partnered with Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement to host a TED-style learning event that gave Detroit - and the country's - leading thinkers on civic engagement a chance to share their insights. 

During the "Civic Showcase and Learning: New Approaches to Community Engagement," the participants shared ways they using social media and digital tools to mobilize citizens, fundraise for non-profits, gamify the urban planning processes, recognize unsung heroes, follow vacant property auctions, vote in the upcoming elections and more.

Sound exciting? Well, it was!

The result? A morning full of inspiration and learning in the intimate, elegant space that is the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Music Box.


If you’re craving a detailed summary of the day's learnings, stay tuned to Knight Blog for a full report on the conference that we will release in a few weeks with our partners at the Center for Michigan.

In the meantime, have a firsthand look at all the work of our compelling speakers, many of whom are supported by Knight: