Finding the wild, weird and the like-minded in #newschallenge inspirations

Journalism / Article

“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking”

― Albert Einstein

“Ideas come from everything”

― Alfred Hitchcock

Two weeks ago, we opened up our Knight News Challenge on Open Gov, where we’re offering a share of $5 million to the best projects that answer the question, “How might we improve the way citizens and governments interact?” We began with an invitation to share in a week of inspiration. In that first week, 176 inspirations were posted to the News Challenge site, with more than 10,000 views and 245 comments. Recently, the inspirations phase closed, and we’re now accepting submissions for funding. While the applications come in, I’ve been taking time to read all the inspirations and  have encountered valuable insights. The original intention of this post was to sum it up—to synthesize that activity into a few key themes for the community of News Challengers to tackle. But in hindsight, that misses the point. Even the smallest kernel of an idea can be the genesis for big, transformational projects. It is often the outliers and the seemingly unrelated that give us the perspective needed to buck the status quo. So rather than try to put the ideas in neat categories with titles, I encourage you to jump back into the inspirations and seek out two things:

  • Look for the weird and wild ideas that make you balk—and think about them again. Ask yourself “What if…”
  • Find the like-minded. We have already seen collaborations popping up in the comments section. This is the true power of the News Challenge. While we can only fund a handful of projects, we hope that this new platform becomes a place for important discussion and collaboration.

Right now, I am thinking about spirituality & open gov, what MOOCs can teach government, What? No! Oh! Whoa! Let’s go!, collaboration & autonomy, and more. What are you thinking about? Whether or not you submitted an inspiration, we hope you’ll participate in the News Challenge by submitting an idea for funding or leave feedback on someone else’s. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. ET Monday, March 18, but my colleague John Bracken has some wise words on why you should apply early.

By Chris Barr, media innovation associate at Knight Foundation