Knight Blog

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

Pulitzer Prize Winning ProPublica is part of Knight's Investigative Reporting Initiative

April 19, 2011, 10:38 a.m., Posted by Marika Lynch

The nonprofit ProPublica has won its second Pulitzer Prize in as many years for a series on Wall Street bankers who sought to enrich themselves at the expense of clients and at times their own firms.  Reporters Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein uncovered the scandal, exposing some of the practices that ultimately worsened the financial crisis.

Paul Steiger
Paul Steiger

ProPublica is funded through Knight's Investigative Reporting Initiative, a $15 million effort to help develop new economic models for investigative reporting on digital platforms. Grantees include News21the Center for Investigative ReportingProPublicathe Center for Public Integrity and the Texas Tribune.

Paul Steiger, ProPublica editor-in-chief and CEO and a Knight trustee, said the point made by the series is critically important:

...the mores of Wall Street, at least in the period 2006-2008, were not consistent with the public interest or the national interest, and that greater oversight (and perhaps enforcement actions) may be in order. Our ultimate test for our work at ProPublica is impact, and we believe this reporting has helped spur activity by the SEC and the Congress -- activity we continue to cover, as recently as twice this past week.

Congrats to the ProPublica team!

Coming Monday: First Knight-Mozilla innovation challenge launches

April 19, 2011, 8:38 a.m., Posted by Marika Lynch

On Monday, the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership will launch its first innovation challenge. The contest (one of three running through May) aims to accelerate media innovation by solving technological challenges, developing new news products and services and - ultimately - embedding technologists in news organizations as Knight Mozilla News Fellows.

For the challenges, designers will be asked to enter ideas in response to these statements:

1. Unlock video: How can new web video tools transform news storytelling? (April 25th) 2. Beyond Comment Threads: How can the open web reinvent online interaction with news (May 9th) 3. Blow our minds: What's the next killer app for news?(May 23)

Ultimately, members of the Mozilla community will be chosen as Knight Mozilla News Fellows, working in newsrooms around the globe to help solve challenges.

Knight Mozilla Journalism Partnership from Graham Wheeler on Vimeo.

Here's the idea behind the partnership, from Mozilla's blog:

We believe that the open web can enable a new kind of journalism—through which people around the world are informed and engaged like never before. News should be delivered across languages, across platforms, across devices. News should put the reader at the center of the story, and stimulate real-time discussion about stories that matter.

Learn more and find out how to get involved here.

Insights on Innovation: Findings from the News Challenge coming soon

April 18, 2011, 4:25 p.m., Posted by Mayur Patel

Mayur Patel

In 2007, we launched the Knight News Challenge as a five-year $25m contest to support innovative digital experiments to transform the way communities gather, share and produce local news. The backdrop to the contest was the disruption happening in journalism, with the news industry in great flux. Since then, we have funded over 60 grantees, totaling more than $21m. With the future of journalism open, we made a deliberate effort to invest in a broad range of experiments from open-source publishing tools to journalism education, and from mobile news platforms to data visualization and mapping.

As with all experiments, the key is to learn from them. At the start of 2010, we put in place a multi-year evaluation to understand the impact of winners’ projects, highlight practices that are showing promise and assess the contest’s contribution to advancing media innovation. The initial results from this effort will be completed shortly and we’re excited to share them publicly with you in June! The findings will build on some of the earlier reviews we’ve done of news challenge winners and the contest itself.

Here’s some more detail: In 2010, we partnered with Lucy Bernholz and her team at Blueprint R&D (an evaluation and strategy firm on the West Coast), to put in place a framework for evaluating the news challenge. To date this has included:

  • An initial retrospective analysis to understand the progress winners have made in implementing their projects and the partnerships they have developed.
  • Profiles of individual winners and a set of papers exploring cross-cutting themes in the contest, e.g. news on mobile phone, civic media projects and news games. We started this by looking at the 2008 and 2009 winners, who are far enough along with their projects to examine outcomes. LFA Group, an evaluation firm, has been collecting this information by surveying and interviewing winners, their stakeholders and experts in the field.
  • We also recently put in place a system to help winners better track their progress and outcomes going forward by integrating web analytics and social media metrics into their work. John Lovett from Web Analytics Demystified has been supporting the 2010 winners with this. We’ll be demoing the platform they’re developing to track key performance indicators in the next few months.

It’s our hope that the insights gathered from the evaluation will help winners strengthen the implementation of their projects and help us refine our media innovation efforts. We also hope that the findings will be meaningful for your own work.

Others are also exploring the News Challenge contest independently of Knight Foundation. An example is Daniel Bachhuber’s recent post, which includes an interesting infographic. Check it out.

Stay tuned for Knight's findings in June!

Mayur Patel is VP for Strategy and Assessment at Knight Foundation.