Knight Blog

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

Knight at SXSW

March 9, 2012, 6:28 a.m., Posted by Jose C. Zamora


Photo Credit: John R. Rogers

I and several of my Knight colleagues will be at SXSW Interactive in Austin through next week, where we will be involved in more than a dozen events and looking out for experiments helping to move society forward.

At Knight, we believe information is vital to communities - and that new technologies are essential to delivering the information communities need on important issues. Four years ago, when we started coming to SXSW, we were seeking journalism and media innovation entrepreneurs. Today, we are expanding our search to community builders interested in using technology for engagement, in addition to artists and entrepreneurs looking to inform and engage communities.

We'll be demoing projects Monday and Tuesday at our trade show booth, supporting the accelerator competition and are excited by the Knight-funded projects presenting this year. Here are a few:

Tonight at 5 p.m., Knight Foundation Trustee and MIT’s Media Lab director Joi Ito will participate in a panel and demo of some of the most exciting projects at the Media Lab. Also at 5 p.m., PRX CEO and Knight News Challenge winner Jake Shapiro will give a keynote on the Future of Public Media. (His talk follows yesterday’s announcement about the Knight-funded Public Media Accelerator's new director.)

Saturday night, we are partnering with Mozilla and MIT’s Media Lab for a media innovation fair at Brush Square Park, showcasing exciting projects. The innovation fair will close with a performance by Filastine.

On Sunday, Knight News Challenge winner Kara Oheler, from Zeega, will participate on a panel on public media as transmedia from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

A panel on Civic Media Projects in Latin America will be held at 3:30 p.m. Monday, and will be led by Knight News Challenge reviewer Luisa Ortiz and Knight News Challenge winners Yesica Guerra, from Crónicas de Héroes, and Miguel Paz from Poderopedia.

Monday kicks off the SXSW Accelerator from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Be there to hear the pitches made by this year’s semi-finalists in the News-Related Technologies category. Learn which projects will move to the final stage of the contest on Tuesday, when winners will be announced at 6 p.m.

Attracting and retaining young professionals in Akron

March 8, 2012, 4:08 p.m., Posted by Jennifer Thomas


Torchbearers Board members at their Community Leaders Reception at the Akron Civic Theater.  

Knight Foundation recently awarded $50,000 to Torchbearers, an organization dedicated to attracting and retaining young professionals in Akron.

The funding supports a new program called “Be The Change” in which members identify their passion and create a plan for initiating community change while building strong relationships with community leaders.

Knight’s focus is to promote an informed and engaged Akron by developing and engaging the next generation of talent. This program is a chance for emerging leaders to identify opportunity and environments for change, embrace risk and receive guidance from local seasoned mentors.

The Akron Beach Journal profiled the launch of Torchbearers noting: "the funds [will] allow the group of about 95 members to build a curriculum with professional facilitation to empower participants to spark positive change for Akron."

What’s in a name: Broad definition for “news” in Knight News Challenge

March 8, 2012, 12:46 p.m., Posted by Marika Lynch

Note: To apply for the News Challenge, and read our FAQ, visit

We’ve spoken to some potential applicants over the last week who have worried that their projects may not be “newsy” enough for the News Challenge.  

The idea might not be in the strictest sense - but that shouldn’t stop them from submitting.

Sure, “news” is in the challenge’s name. But over the course of running challenge, we’ve learned that many interesting ideas for informing and engaging communities may not, at first blush, be easily classified as news. In the recent past, we’ve funded data visualization projects and data scrapers, for example.

In this current contest, our focus is on projects that use networks to help communities get the information they need. We’ll fund projects that use existing software and platforms to deliver news and information.