How the National Association of Broadcasters is PILOTing innovation in serving the information needs of communities – Knight Foundation

How the National Association of Broadcasters is PILOTing innovation in serving the information needs of communities

John Clark is the executive director of PILOT, an initiative of the National Association of Broadcasters that advances broadcast technologies and cultivates new media opportunities. Today Knight Foundation is announcing $208,000 in new support for innovation challenges to uncover broadcast news projects that serve the needs of local communities. 

Local broadcasters play a vital role in our communities. They work to deliver the news, weather, emergency information and entertainment people rely on each day.

According to a 2016 Pew Research Center report, broadcast remains a dominant source of news for U.S. adults. However, younger adults – those younger than age 30 – are relying on non-traditional sources. Our challenge is continuing to serve our communities in an increasingly fractured news environment.

This year, the National Association of Broadcasters created the PILOT Innovation Challenge to promote new technology in our industry and find new ways to engage our audiences and serve our communities. A panel of 50 judges selected three winners from 153 entries, and we’re currently developing the next PILOT Innovation Challenge.

Support from Knight Foundation will enable us to double the size of the PILOT Innovation Challenge for the next two years and will enhance our search for new ideas on how local broadcasters can better serve their communities.

Our goals for the Innovation Challenges are simple:

  • Identify, cultivate and support innovations that serve the information needs of communities.
  • Enable the collisions of perspectives and ideas.

The PILOT Innovation Challenge is aimed at spurring and supporting new ideas. They don’t have to be well-developed products or businesses – in fact, they shouldn’t be. We want people to give us their best “back-of-a-napkin” ideas.

We want people to think big and be creative with their submissions. Last year, we had submissions on everything from virtual reality to historical mashups providing context to local news. I believe the most audacious ideas are the ones worth pursuing. It’s impossible to see where an idea might go or what else it could spark without putting it out there to uncover new opportunities to explore.

We’ll identify 12 ideas (six in each of the next two years) worth moving from a Post-it note sketch to the first tangible prototype. The PILOT Innovation Challenge winners will receive cash prizes, industry exposure and executive mentorship as they move their ideas toward validation.

Anyone familiar with design-thinking principles of desirability, feasibility and viability will recognize these basic criteria:

  • Desirability: What is the value to the community?
  • Feasibility: What does it take to make the idea a reality?
  • Viability: How could the idea generate revenue?
  • Originality: What makes the idea creative and unique? (This will carry the most weight.)

We’ll officially launch the 2017 PILOT Innovation Challenge at NAB Show in Las Vegas in April. We’ll accept entries through the summer. In the fall, we will evaluate the ideas and a panel of judges, including broadcasters, venture capitalists, academics and other entrepreneurs, will select the winners.

The winners should be prepared to present their ideas to a live audience and field questions about their projects at one of our events in the fall. Once selected, they’ll have several months to create a prototype and report back to us, all with support and guidance along the way.

With different perspectives come new opportunities, and I’m excited to see the new opportunities that the PILOT Innovation Challenge will generate for our local communities.

Email John Clark via [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @johnclark

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