Knight Blog

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

A great night for Detroit at the Charles H. Wright Museum

March 2, 2012, 8:41 a.m., Posted by Rishi Jaitly

Partners and supporters of the BME Challenge gathered Wednesday night to celebrate the 10 winners of the BME Detroit Leadership Award, honoring exemplary black men who step up to lead and engage others in our community.

Detroit City Council Member James Tate greeted the crowd and former NBA star and charter school founder Jalen Rose made a surprise appearance.

Each of the BME Leadership Award winners is receiving funds to advance work they are doing in our community - from helping plant gardens in vacant lots, to giving new fathers parenting skills, and exposing young people to greater literacy, cultural and career development opportunities. Each talked about their projects on video.

But this wasn't just a special night for our winners; it was a special night for Detroit. These men represent hundreds of BMErs, and thousands of Detroiters, who are blending economic livelihood, creative pursuit, and civic action in imaginative ways. It's because of people like them that Knight Foundation invests in initiatives that help citizens lead and engage with the city's growing movement of social entrepreneurs.

More noteworthy journalism and media books by Knight partners

March 1, 2012, 9:24 a.m., Posted by Eric Newton


Clay Johnson argues for infoveganism at the Center for Civic Media. Photo Credit: Flickr user J. Nathan Matias.

Noteworthy journalism and media books by Knight partners keep coming. These two made me want to flash back to two previous blogs:

Killing the MessengerThomas Peele of the Bay Area News Group has written a story that cries out for a movie deal. It’s about “radical faith, racism’s backlash and the assassination of a journalist.”  In vivid detail, Killing the Messenger gives you the big picture around the death of Chauncey Bailey, the Oakland Post editor shotgunned in 2007 on a street corner for investigating a troubled local business called Your Muslim Bakery. Bailey was the first journalist murdered for trying to do journalism in this country since Don Bolles was killed in 1976 by a car bomb for exposing mafia ties to Arizona land deals.

Peele tells the history of Black Muslims, leading you to Oakland where the movement became a cover for a violent cult run by Yusuf Bey, who beat and raped dozens of women he claimed were his wives and fathered more than 40 children.  Bey’s 21-year-old son, Yusuf Bey IV, took over the bakery after his father’s death. It was Bey IV who was convicted of masterminding the Bailey murder. Bey IV and an accomplice are looking at life without parole. The trigger man, who confessed, got 25 years.

Knight Foundation’s role was to grant the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education $125,000 to create the Chauncey Bailey project – so nonprofit, commercial and student journalists from all media could investigate the murder. Thomas Peele was an important member of that project.

Did the project matter? Said District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley: “I would especially like to recognize and acknowledge the Chauncey Bailey Project (which) worked diligently and tirelessly to ensure that the defendants responsible for these senseless murders were brought to justice."  A public official speaks highly of journalists! Even so, you won’t find those words in Peele’s book. Like many good investigative reporters, he does not like to put himself into the story. I spoke about this issue at last year’s investigative reporting convention. My question: If investigative journalists don’t explain their impact, who will?

Cinequest celebrates young filmmakers who inspire to create global change

March 1, 2012, 9:09 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller


Youth filmmakers from the Picture the Possibilities program

Starting today, the Cinequest film festival in San Jose/Silicon Valley will showcase films created by young people, using their stories as a way to inspire positive social change.

Picture the Possibilities empowers young people from all over the world with the innovative tools, mentors and training necessary to produce the films. The program also connects them with leaders around the world to share ideas and gain a better understanding of community.

Today, at a private event for participants,  the films will be watched by media, business, cultural and political leaders. Participants will engage in conversations with the young filmmakers and suggest means to transform their visions into tangible plans to effect change, both locally and globally.

The event takes place not only in San Jose/Silicon Valley, but also simultaneously in five other cities where the teen filmmakers are from: Beijing, Shanghai, New York City, Los Angeles and Mexico City.

Approximately 150 young people were part of the program and were helped by a team of filmmakers who offered advice in writing scripts, shooting and editing as part of a film boot-camp. In total, 19 films were shot and focused on issues of immigration, obesity, living in post 9/11 New York City and more.

Tomorrow, the Picture the Possibilities website goes live. The site will be accessible at and feature the top films as well as personal profiles of the filmmakers and other e-learning opportunities.