Knight Blog

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

On its 20th anniversary, Living Cities asks questions about the future of urban social change

Sept. 26, 2011, 3:25 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller


What is the future of urban social change? And where do innovative ideas come from? Living Cities, a collaborative of 22 of the largest foundations and financial institutions, will ask those questions tomorrow at a livestreamed event in honor of its 20th anniversary.

For the midday panel about new urban innovation models, Paula Ellis, Knight’s vice president/strategic initiatives and a Living Cities board member, will interview author Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From.

Since 2006, Knight Foundation has supported Living Cities, specifically to expand and deepen its collaborative investment to improve urban neighborhoods in 23 communities. Knight also supports its Integration Initiative, an effort designed to advance successful models for effective urban investment and transformation in five cities, including St. Paul and Detroit.

News consumers mix and match from a variety of sources to learn about their communities

Sept. 26, 2011, 12:01 a.m., Posted by Eric Newton

Newspaper boxes by Lulu Vision on

Eric Newton

Eric Newton

A new study shows that local news ecosystems are far more complex than is commonly understood. The digital transformation of news is causing us to mix and match content with media in new ways – and in different ways across generations. Mobile media, for example, are becoming popular for "out and about news" like restaurant tips or weather reports. The web is seen as especially good for education news and local business news. Local TV is popular for weather, breaking news and traffic. Newspapers are best for overall civic news, especially government news.

Questions and insight at Council on Foundation's session on "Journalism and Media Grant Making"

Sept. 23, 2011, 9:52 p.m., Posted by Marika Lynch

Crossposted from the Council on Philanthropy's blog.

With community and place-based foundations increasingly supporting local information projects – they spent $58 million on the sector last year  - the audience for the “Journalism and Media Grant Making” session at the Council on Foundations’ Fall Conference came prepared with sophisticated questions and their own insights to share.

Here’s a sample of the conversation:

How are nonprofit news sites becoming sustainable – particularly since there isn’t one magic business model?

The most successful have diversified revenues sources that include foundation grants, advertising, major donors, memberships and sponsorships, said Eric Newton, Knight Foundation’s senior adviser to the president. People will pay for content, Newton said, noting that the public has funded public media for more than half a century. But sites have to be entrepreneurial by nature.

The expense equation is important too. A budget solely devoted to good journalism is doomed to failure, said Michele McLellan, a Knight Foundation consultant who helps guide community foundations investing in this area. Funders need to take a close look at the site’s business development plan and technical capacity, both key to building and engaging audiences who will sustain the site.