Knight Blog

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

News and tips as News Challenge on Networks draws to a close

March 15, 2012, 6:44 p.m., Posted by John Bracken

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

As we enter the last 48 hours of the Knight News Challenge on Networks, I want to share some news and tips.

First, we’ve mentioned that one of the challenge’s criteria is the ability to leverage networks to generate interest in your proposed project. To make that more concrete, the five applications that receive the most likes and reblogs will automatically become semi-finalists. While we will close the contest for submissions at midnight (EST) on Saturday, you will still be able to drum up support for, and discussion about, your proposal.

Over the last week I’ve spoken with a lot of potential applicants. Some things I’ve heard, and how I’ve responded:


Video explores Google Books Library project

March 15, 2012, 9:44 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller


Some 15 million books have been scanned and made at least partially available immediately to someone walking into a library or searching on the web, as a result of the Google Books Library Project.

“Libraries are no longer limited in what they can make available to their patrons by what can fit within the four walls of their libraries,” says James Crawford, engineering director at Google Books.

The project fits within Google’s larger mission of organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful.

In the video above, Crawford describes what he believes this at times controversial project brings to community libraries, and talks about what other Google products might benefit the library community, including Google Scholar and Google +.


More recipes for success of nonprofit news ventures

March 14, 2012, 2:43 p.m., Posted by Eric Newton



The latest cookbook for nonprofit news ventures comes today from the Investigative News Networksupported by Knight, is an eclectic mix of big, small, old, new, national, local, digital, print, neutral and progressive nonprofit news organizations. As you might expect, its recipes for success are as varied as sushi and Boston baked beans.

The white paper, Audience Development and Distribution Strategies, was written by digital news expert Elizabeth Osder. It is similar to our earlier reports on nonprofit news success, but also offers new advice, excellent context and fresh views from the nonprofit news leaders themselves.

Its thrust:  the story is not the only thing that matters in news. Explains Margie Freigvogel, editor of the St. Louis Beacon: “We started with a passion for journalism coming out of a newspaper background and we found ourselves running a business and technology enterprise.” The Beacon started in 2008 to create “a better St. Louis powered by journalism” and is still going strong.

These folks are, in my mind, heroes. Many started their new digital news ventures just in the past five years, as print newspapers have been shrinking and a lack of creative change in public broadcasting has so far failed to fill the gap. These new news leaders really care about informed and engaged communities.  Suddenly, through their own web sites and their traditional media partners, they are reaching many millions of people. Someone should add up that number: It’s big.