Articles by

Michael D. Bolden

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    Jennifer Preston welcomes students at the Knight Scholars luncheon at IRE 2016. Photo by Michael Bolden. We’re attending the 2016 Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference in New Orleans this week, a convening that highlights the best in investigative journalism while providing a forum for sharing techniques, tools and ideas that help move journalism forward. Knight Foundation is one of the primary sponsors of the conference being held through June 19 at the New Orleans Marriott, while Knight Scholars from historically black universities and colleges are writing about the event. Knight is also supporting several panels, including “Tools and Tips for the Reporting Process,” “Robots That Report: How Fact-Checkers Worldwide Are Experimenting With Automation,” and a conversation with the 2016 winners of the Livingston Awards. Conferees also have a chance to hear from several Knight grantees, including DocumentCloud, ProPublica and many others.   Members of the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) are also gathered in New Orleans, holding business development workshops alongside IRE events. Knight hosted the INN group during a reception Wednesday night at the International House Hotel. Follow the IRE Conference blog for updates, check out tip sheets from the conference, and track the conversation on Twitter using #IRE16. Audio from most conference sessions will be available later on the IRE website. Michael D. Bolden is editorial director of Knight Foundation. Email him via [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @michaelbolden.
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    This week Knight staff and partners are gathering in Philadelphia to celebrate the work of the 2016 Knight Cities Challenge winners. This annual challenge seeks the best ideas to help make the 26 Knight communities more successful, using what we believe are the three essential drivers: attracting and retaining talented people, expanding economic opportunity and promoting a culture of civic engagement. The excitement has been building since earlier this spring when we announced the 37 winning projects, which will share in $5 million. We are looking forward to this event, billed as the Knight Cities Challenge Winners Summit. It is the first time the winners have assembled. We’ll also be joined by several of the winners from the 2015 Knight Cities Challenge, the first year of this initiative. People such as Lansie Sylvia, of Philadelphia's Next Stop: Democracy, and Nathalie Manzano-Smith, representing the Miami Science Barge, will share their insights from the past year, as they have built out their ideas, developed partnerships and launched successful projects.
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    Above: Installation photo from the Nick Cave: Here Hear exhibition at Cranbrook Art Museum. Credit: P.D. Rearick. Two Knight Foundation-funded projects in Detroit and Miami ranked among the top U.S. art exhibitions of 2015, according to Hyperallergic, a leading online arts magazine. Artist Nick Cave’s “Hear Here” in Detroit ranked No. 2 on the top 10 list. Hyperallergic said the project engaged “Detroiters of all stripes in the creation of original dance pieces, photo and video shoots, and public celebrations that transcended traditional divisions between the city proper and its more affluent and whiter suburbs.” The project, funded by the Knight Arts Challenge, included seven months of activities and an exhibit at Cranbrook Art Museum. Cave, who graduated from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1989, wrapped up the project in October 2015. Nick Cave. Credit: Sam Deitch/BFAnyc.com.
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    David O. Egner. Photo courtesy the Hudson-Webber Foundation A frequent collaborator with Knight Foundation, David O. Egner, head of the Detroit-based Hudson-Webber Foundation, will serve as the president of a new foundation formed to carry out the wishes of Ralph C. Wilson Jr., the founder and owner of the Buffalo Bills who died in 2014. The news was announced Thursday by The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, a $1.2-billion institution that plans to give away its entire endowment and investment income over 20 years. The foundation is focused on grantmaking in Southeastern Michigan and Western New York. Egner has been president and CEO at Detroit-based Hudson-Webber since 1997, and also served as executive director of the funders’ collaborative the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan. Knight Foundation is a member of the New Economy Initiative and frequently works with the Hudson-Webber Foundation in Detroit. “I am honored to have been selected by the trustees of The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation,” Egner said in a statement. “It is a privilege to represent the foundation and the legacy of Ralph Wilson, a man known for his extraordinary generosity, visionary leadership and strong Midwestern values.”
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    Google self-driving car photo (cc) by LoKan Sardari on Flickr.com  It’s the not-too-distant future. You’re riding in your self-driving automobile through the streets of a bustling city when a classic car from 2015 runs a red light and hurtles head-on towards you. If you were driving, you might steer the car toward the sidewalk. But what if a group of children was standing there? With only a millisecond or two to process this, you might try steering toward them to save your life. A “thinking” car, however, might not. An algorithm embedded in the car’s brain might decide colliding head-on with the red-light runner would cause the least loss of life. Except the life might be yours. What would you do? What should the car do? And who decides? That question was posed by Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab and a member of the Knight Foundation Board of Trustees, as he helped kick off a strategy discussion about how changes in our society will affect organizations such as Knight that invest in the seeds of change. Ito and Trustee Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, discussed the issues during an internal Knight panel in Miami about what the future holds for the Web and the flow of information.
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    Walt Disney Concert Hall. Photos by Michael D. Bolden on Flickr. For me Los Angeles evokes visions of strolling the galleries at the Getty Museum, listening to music at Disney Concert Hall, cheering the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Rose Bowl and running along the beaches of Malibu. But this week it’s the center of the digital journalism universe as the Online News Association descends on the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza for its annual convention. The convening is a major event for Knight Foundation, which is sponsoring the Midway, an expo where you can learn about some of the latest media projects and innovations in journalism. It’s also where you can connect directly with us, several of our grantees and a handful of Knight Enterprise Fund portfolio companies. The convention officially kicks off Thursday, Sept. 24, at 9 a.m., in the Los Angeles Room, and we’ll be at ONA15 through the closing reception on Saturday night for the Online Journalism Awards Banquet, which will include the presentation of the Knight Award for Public Service (all times are Pacific Time). Here’s a look at what we have planned.
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    Lena Groeger of ProPublica talks data and coding at Excellence in Journalism 2015. Photos by Michael D. Bolden on Flickr. I just returned from the Excellence in Journalism conference in Orlando, Fla., which offered journalists at all levels of their careers a chance to learn new skills and to share insights from what’s going on in their newsrooms. The conference, held at the Orlando Marriott World Center hotel, brought together more than 1,300 participants from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Radio Television Digital News Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Here are some highlights. CNN’s Brian Stelter moderated a poignant session on last month’s on-air killing of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, two journalists from WDBJ-7 in Roanoke, Va. The panel included Kelly Zuber, news director of the station; Scott Libin, ethics committee chairman of the Radio Television Digital News Association; and Mark Luckie, former manager of news and journalism at Twitter.  The Saturday morning panel drew a large crowd to learn about how the WDBJ team reported the story even as they dealt with the personal horror of what had happened, and seeing graphic video posted to social media by the gunman, a former station employee. It was impossible to remove emotion from reporting such a traumatic story, Zuber said, but “I think we did what our viewers needed us to do.”   Less than a month after the Aug. 26 shooting, WDBJ staff members are still reeling but leaning on each other for support. The situation required management to throw the normal human resources playbook out the window, she said. “Imagine walking around the newsroom saying you love each other,” said Zuber, who added that the station continues to receive anonymous threats. “That doesn’t happen often in newsrooms.”
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    The National Press Foundation Master Class with Alberto Ibargüen.  Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen recently sat down to discuss his career—from his college days as editor of The Wesleyan Argus to leading Knight—with Sandy K. Johnson, president of the National Press Foundation, for the organization’s “Master Class” series.  Last month, the National Press Foundation awarded Ibargüen the W.M. Kiplinger Award for Distinguished Contributions to Journalism. Ibargüen joined Knight in 2005 after being publisher of the Miami Herald, which won three Pulitzer Prizes during his tenure. 
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    As Detroit emerges from bankruptcy the hard work of rebuilding the city is already underway with the commitment of partners such as the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich.   La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of Kellogg, says collaboration is essential to creating the opportunities the city needs. “What we’re learning and understanding is foundations can’t work in isolation,” she said. “We have to work in this multi-sectoral space and really bring business along, government, faith-based [groups] and people, et cetera, because it’s going to take all of us,” she said.
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      Cities everywhere are searching for formulas to make them more successful, whether they face a shift in population, a shift in industries or a shift in leadership. When a city finds a formula that works, other cities want to study what’s happened and see if they can apply it at home. That’s happened in Macon, Ga., a Knight community since 1969. “The Magic of College Hill,” released today, is our attempt to explain it.