Knight Blog

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

I-News, Oklahoma Watch featured in study of news partnerships

June 8, 2011, 10:56 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan

Can partnerships among key institutions support local, investigative journalism? That's the question Sandy Rowe, former editor of The Oregonian, sought to answer as the Knight Fellow this year at the Shorenstein Center for the Press, Politics and Policy at Harvard University.

Her report, published last week, features two Knight Community Information Challenge projects - I-News - the Rocky Mountain News Network and Oklahoma Watch - that are part of a growing breed of independent, nonprofit, investigative news organizations that have start up support from local foundations.

In her paper, "Partners of Necessity: The Case for Collaboration in Local Investigative Reporting," Rowe argues that partnerships between foundations, universities, traditional news outlets and other institutions may provide sustainable sources for important local watchdog reporting as traditional sources wane.

"The sprouting of more than 50 investigative news sites in the last four years has nurtured hope that they will fill the substantial gaps in accountability reporting. Today, however, most of these budding local only  cycle away from hitting their own version of the wall. Some are taking root, many others will not.  Anyone who thinks there’s an easy rescue in sight for rebuilding...

Weave: Visualizing data for civic impact

June 6, 2011, 2:52 p.m., Posted by Lisa Williams

"Utilitarianism," from Jessica Hagy's brilliant site This Is Indexed.

I'm a huge fan of, a blog that's devoted to infographics. We live in a world where our ability to make choices from everything about our health to who we'll vote for -- depends on our grasp of what I'll call The Big Numbers.

Dense walls of text about your risk of developing heart disease or about health care costs often leave me more confused than when I started. Infographics are great because they can give you an understanding of a topic at a glance. There are many important social issues that can't be effectively communicated any other way -- the biggest stories of our times are, in fact, about Big Numbers: the economic crisis, global climate change, healthcare, the foreclosure crisis.

So if infographics are so great, why do so few sites use them? Because generating them and designing them is hard. Current technology makes it easy to publish text to the web, just as I'm doing now. Most of us are carrying a combination still camera and video camera in our pocket, and depending on...

A river runs through them

June 6, 2011, 9:34 a.m., Posted by Lisa Williams


The River Partnership is an association of community foundations located in cities and towns along the Mississippi River. With a watershed of over a million square miles, the river is the kind of natural resource that risks being everyone's treasure and no one's concern. The River Partnership, a second round winner of the Knight Community Information Challenge, will launch six projects that will solve a central problem: residents can't act until they care, and they can't care until they know. Each project will make use of the web and social media to get people engaged with the river that flows through their back yard.

Here are some thumbnails of a few of the projects that will be launched in the coming year:

Community Foundation of the Great River Bend will launch "Quad Cities Wild Places," which is modeled after Chicago Wilderness, which helps people in the Chicagoland area get outside into Chicago's hidden wilderness areas. Quad Cities Wild Places will develop a website with maps, educational material, and even a childrens' "Wild Places Passport," to encourage families to get outside.

The Community Foundation of Northwest Missisippi doesn't yet have a name for its project, but it does have big ambitions -- it calls the project "A Huffington Post for the Mississippi Delta. The surrounding region has no regional newspaper or television station, and the community foundation hopes to bring together research findings and the voices of residents.

The IQ Magazine Community Foundation Consortium backs IQ Magazine, which turns each issue into a deep dive on serious issues facing the residents of Minnesota, including...