Congratulations to the 2010 Knight News Challenge Winners

The Knight News Challenge is designed to help speed media innovation by field-testing the most promising news technologies and techniques in specific geographic communities. We received 2,364 applications in the latest round of the contest and we are extremely excited to announce and congratulate the 2010 Knight News Challenge winners.

And the winners are:


To create graphics about cities and communities that would be as easy to share and put on your web site as Flickr photos or YouTube videos.

This project will allow users to create embeddable visualizations that are appealing enough to spread virally. The idea is to create graphics about cities and communities that would be as easy to share and put on a web site as Flickr photos or YouTube videos.

The project was proposed by Stamen Labs, a respected tech and design shop in San Francisco. The firm will use its advisory relationship with the city of San Francisco as a way to draw more data to experiment with.

The Cartoonist

To help journalists tell stories through games. $378,887 / two years

This project, directed by a national expert in educational games, will create a free tool that allows anyone to create cartoon-like current-event games to be used on local newspaper or broadcast web sites. The idea is to help journalists and editors make games that draw communities to their local papers and inspire citizens to explore the news. The field-tests will be held in Santa Cruz, Calif., and Atlanta.

The project director, Dr. Ian Bogost, is an authority on the uses of video games for purposes other than entertainment. He is the author of the book Persuasive Games, and with a previous grant from Knight Foundation, creator of the News Games web site.

Local Wiki

To update and improve Wikipedia-type software to make it easier for communities to create guides, lists, maps and news about their community.

A wiki is an online platform allowing people to voluntarily create free content by writing and editing it collectively. Wikipedia, for example, is an international online encyclopedia that has become one of the web’s most popular destinations. This project would create as a demonstration project a new form of ‘local wiki.’ It will develop a new generation of wiki software that is easier to use and update.

The new software will be field-tested in Davis, Calif., where one of every six people use Davis Wiki. Local wiki founders Philip Neustrom and Mike Ivanov created Davis Wiki, which citizens use for tasks that range from finding lost pets and discovering the best dentists to learning the news of the day. Part of the grant will help expand the software to other interested communities, including Knight communities.

Windy Citizen’s Real Time Ads

To create software that allows news sites to generate revenue from a new kind of ad.

This project, directed by a Chicago entrepreneur, would develop a better open-source software interface allowing local news sites to make money by selling ‘real-time ads.’ These ads differ from standard Internet ads because they can constantly change, showing the latest message or post from the advertiser’s Twitter account, Facebook page, or blog.

The project is lead by Brad Flora, a Medill School of Journalism graduate. Flora has created Windy Citizen, a web site where citizens share links to news that interests them. He can develop the real-time software for testing in Chicago, San Francisco, New York City and other cities by mutual agreement with Knight Foundation. Input will be sought from MinnPost and other Knight grantees already experimenting with real-time ads.

GoMap Riga

To create an online map where people can browse news and engage in civic action.

This project will create a live online map with local news, community activities and civic initiatives to help inspire people to get involved in civic action. GoMap Riga will pull some content from the web and place it automatically on the map. The innovation is that people will be able to add to the automated map feeds by putting in their own news, pictures and videos. People will be able to tweet and discuss what’s happening around them, participate in petitions or initiatives, find out and act on local news, as well as stay up to date on areas they are interested in. GoMap Riga also will be integrated with the major existing social networks and will allow civic participation through mobile technology. The field test is in Riga, Latvia, but we believe the social media innovations will be usable anywhere.

Order in the Court 2.0

To establish best practices for digital reporting from courtrooms.

This project will create a model for greater citizen access and understanding of the judicial process through the integration of digital technology into courts. A partnership between Boston’s WBUR and the Massachusetts court system will create a closely-watched pilot program in the Quincy courthouse. The project hopes to create best practices that courts can use to establish digital media rules. Courts are still operating under video and audio recording standards established in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The project includes a designated area for live blogging via a Wi-Fi network, live-streaming court proceedings to the public, and publishing the daily docket on a web site. The program will set much-needed benchmarks, and the work will be presented to the Conference of State Court Administrators and the Conference of Chief Justices. The National Center for State Courts has endorsed the project.

Front Porch Forum

To create open-source software for neighborhood news.

This project will expand Front Porch Forum software by making it open source and useable by neighborhoods outside its core area. Currently the forum has a network of 140 neighborhood forums that blankets 25 towns in northwest Vermont. More than 18,000 households subscribe, including 40 percent of the state’s largest cities. Neighbors use the platform to distribute, share and discuss news and information. Front Porch Forum will rebuild and enhance its proof-of-concept software and expand it with a goal of covering all 250 towns in Vermont. The grant will result in the open-source platform being used by other organizations, including nonprofits.


To interactively chronicle the new uses of social networks by the military.

This project would launch an online, multimedia journal and social media resource center, providing continuous coverage of the entire deployment of a U.S. Marine battalion to southern Afghanistan and the way its members use social media, which the military recently approved for their use. This would be the first interactive, real-time project looking at the military’s use of social media.

The core audience is the community affiliated with the Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C. The project will be directed Teru Kuwayama, a photojournalist with almost a decade of experience in Afghanistan, including many embeds with military forces, and a long track record of managing projects and organizations. Kuwayama is a member of the first generation of the revamped Knight Fellowship program at Stanford. This project already has the written approvals from the Marine command.


To create a collaborative online video editing platform

Stroome has developed an award-winning collaborative online video editing platform that includes easy ways for people to talk about their work and work together during the video editing process. Many collaborative editing systems exist for text, but not really for video. This project fills that gap and focuses on creating a community of journalists around the platform.

Eyewitness video ‘ often captured by mobile phones or Web cams ‘ is becoming a key component of news coverage, generating demand for supporting technologies. YouTube allows uploads, UStream allows live-streaming. Stroome hopes to help this kind of video be produced more easily.

The project is a video studio that sits on the Internet instead of on a desktop computer. Stroome lets people work together without using expensive satellite technology. Users upload and share content, edit in the browser, remix with friends and colleagues, then promote their collaborations. Started by a former Newsweek correspondent and a former television executive, Stroome won the 2009 Audience Award from the Online News Association. It is being used at University of Southern California’s journalism program. In agreement with Knight Foundation, Stroome will choose a site for field testing.


To create a mobile community-engagement application.

This project would allow community members to connect an idea to a specific place. For example, if you see a great spot for a community garden, you can use your mobile device to ‘geotag’ the idea, linking it to the exact spot where you are. Others can look at your place-based ideas and debate them, from any place and at any time.

The concept is that by breaking community issues down into bite-sized settings ‘ such as making suggestions, making connections and following up on those connections ‘ you can increase the number of people informed and engaged with their communities.

The project is directed by Retha Hill, director of the New Media Innovation Lab at the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. will be pilot tested in Phoenix.

PRX StoryMarket

To take the software from and adapt it for public radio.

Public Radio Exchange (PRX) is taking the crowd-funding technique (and open-source software) from and extending it and adapting it for public radio. This is an exciting idea because public radio has loyal listeners who are already willing to contribute financially. At the same time public radio needs a lot more local content, and new ways to pay for it. Having PRX’s programmers working on Spot.Us’s open-source software will also help create and expand a developer community around the original code.

StoryMarket will allow anyone to contribute money to help produce a story for a local public radio station. When the amount is raised (in small contributions), the station will hire a professional journalist to do the report. The project will launch with Louisville Public Radio in Kentucky, selected for its forward-thinking management. The project will be directed by Cambridge, Mass.-based PRX, which is known for driving public radio innovation. They have created a successful iPhone app. In 2008, they won a MacArthur award for Creative and Effective Institutions.


To create a set of tools local media can use to design hyper-local maps.

To build and package a set user-friendly tools that local media can use to design and make custom hyper-local maps for their web sites and blogs, and in turn help them tell better stories. As Google Maps’ click-and-drag interface has become nearly standard, nonprofits have broken down the technology to use elements for their own purposes, whether monitor elections or illustrate the distribution of local crime. Still, making custom maps has been both expensive and technically demanding.

DevelopmentSeed is creating a service called TileMill that will allow groups with only basic technical experience to auto-generate highly customized community maps using local data. TileMill will be pilot tested in Washington, D.C. A prototype of TileMill was used after the Haiti earthquake to help create high-quality maps of Port-au-Prince neighborhoods that were not available commercially. Those maps were used by Ushahidi, a 2009 Knight News Challenge Winner, to crowd-source reports on where aid was needed, whether rescuing people trapped under rubble or distributing fresh water.

The winners make up the fourth round of the five-year, $25 million Knight News Challenge, an international contest to fund digital news experiments that transform community life.

— Jose Zamora, journalism program associate, Knight Foundation