Knight Blog

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

Knight News Challenge on networks - moving to the next round

April 12, 2012, 9:18 a.m., Posted by John Bracken

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Photo Credit: Flickr user Thomas Hawk

We just finished selecting the 52 proposals that will go to the next round of the Knight News Challenge on networks. (You can see 49 of them listed below; two were closed entries and we don’t have permission from the applicant to share.)

Included in this 52 are the five applications that generated the most chatter on Tumblr: Amauta; Cont3nt, the Unconsumption Project, MediaReputations.com and PreScouter.

This week, 19 experts are reading and voting on those final 52 in preparation for an all-day gathering at our office on Friday. Our goal is to leave that meeting with 10-15 projects that we will explore even more deeply over the next couple of weeks. We expect to bring 4-6 of those for consideration by Knight Foundation trustees in mid-June, and publicly announce the winners at MIT on June 18.

Later today, consultant Ryan Jacoby will have a summary of the trends he saw in reviewing all of the 1,078 applications we received. I’ll just add that the review process was a difficult one - we’ve had to decline a lot of promising ideas. Each application was read three times, many were read more. However, I am excited about this final batch and confident that we’re going to end up with some exciting projects.

I want to say thanks to all who applied, as well as to the extraordinary group of people who reviewed the review of the entries with us:

Joaquin Alvarado Brian Boyer, Steve Buttry, Blaine Cook, Amanda Cox, Jake  Dobkin, Kate Gardiner, Josh Greenberg, Julie Moos, Catherine Orr, Julie  Shapiro, Hari  Sreenivasan, Kio Stark, Elena Rue, Kristen Titus, Sarah Rich, Jeremy Mims, Tim Hwang, Eric Rodenbeck; Andrew Golis, Amanda Lenhart, Ryan  Jacoby, Max Ogden and Benjamen Walker.

Here’s who is moving forward in the challenge:

New YouTube channel to focus on investigative reporting

April 11, 2012, 12:06 p.m., Posted by John Bracken

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Above: a photo from a slideshow on a recent Center for Investigative Reporting piece "Arms race on America's streets." Photo Credit: Andrew Becker, Center for Investigative Reporting.

Today, Knight Foundation is announcing an $800,000 grant to the Center for Investigative Reporting to launch a new channel with YouTube. The channel, a hub for investigative journalism, will make its debut later this year with content from an array of contributors, including NPR, ABC News, The New York Times - and you.



YouTube is as much about community and conversation as it is about video - there’s a reason it is the second largest search engine. We’ve seen the importance of on-the-ground videos in the reporting of the Trayvon Martin protests, the Arab Spring, last fall’s Occupy protests and “undercover journalism” practiced by people like James O’Keefe and Project OpenWatch. This collaboration will aggregate the most relevant of those videos with content from more established producers previously mentioned.



We’re making a bet that a collaboration between leading journalism organizations and the leader in online video will result in vibrant, relevant social content. It’s a bet because it is not a sure thing. For one, we’re just not sure what users want, or expect, in terms of interactive hard news. We’re confident about this bet because of the pedigrees of the organizations involved, and the belief that they will adapt as they learn more about audience expectations and behaviors.

If successful, the channel will result in new, web-centric forms of investigative reporting—resulting in new audiences and new ways of telling important stories.

Five lessons learned from a social entrepreneur

April 11, 2012, 8:45 a.m., Posted by Mike Norman

Knight Foundation has funded SoChange.com to convince companies to behave in socially responsible ways. Here, Mike Norman, its co-founder, shares key insights and lessons learned from the project's first year. 

normanOne year ago, my co-founder and I launched SoChange.com to empower the use of consumer spending as a tool for improving corporate behavior. We had grown increasingly frustrated at our inability to let responsible companies know that we supported them because of their impact on issues we cared about. We wanted to use our spending to convince companies to be better, and market research showed that we were not alone. Enough consumers were like us that taken together, we controlled enough buying power to make a real difference in how companies thought about their social and environmental impact.

We set out to build a tool that would show consumers that shifting where they spent money could meaningfully impact issues they cared about. Over the past year, we have learned a great deal from our own experience and those of other social entrepreneurs. Here are a few of the key insights we have learned and a overview of how it has informed our strategy moving forward.