Knight News Challenge ’11: Mobile, Authenticity, Sustainability and Community

I’m happy to be able to share with you the details of the fifth Knight News Challenge, which will launch October 25.

As a newcomer to Knight Foundation, I can state without hubris that the News Challenge has become a key driver of news innovation and a model for philanthropic contests worldwide. (My predecessor at Knight Foundation Gary Kebbel played a major role in making the News Challenge what it is.’Go Big Red!) Encouraged by this success, we have decided to take the News Challenge in a slightly different direction for its fifth year.

In designing the 2011 contest, we’ve wanted to reflect the trends in which the Internet has us headed.’As Nieman’s Lois Beckett noted the other day, we have decided to organize the contest around categories. ‘When we open the door to applications later this month, we’ll ask you to apply in one of four categories: Mobile, Authenticity, Sustainability, and Community. In coming weeks, my colleague Jose Zamora and I will share our thinking about each of the categories. Briefly, here’s what we’ve in mind:

Mobile. The mobile phone, with 5 billion units in use, has become an important tool for news. Knight Foundation is interested in projects that use mobile devices to produce, deliver, consume share and otherwise engage with news.

Authenticity: We went back and forth on how to describe this: trust, reputation, integrity and credibility were other terms we considered. We’re hoping to identify promising ideas for helping citizens negotiate our oft-chaotic media world. How can we help news users to better evaluate the validity and trustworthiness of news and information? How can we better filter and assess the credibility of what we read and watch? We were motivated to choose the topic by a sense that there’s a lot of energy around the topic–‘Craig Newmark, for one, has been thinking out loud on these issues.

Sustainability. New ways of conducting and consuming journalism may require new ways of paying for it. We’re open to ideas for generating revenue as well as ways to reduce costs. A lot of people have been thinking of this for a while now, including some prior News Challenge winners— we’re hoping to contribute more to new efforts to address this problem.

Community: This is designed to jump-start work on technologies and approaches that haven’t arrived yet. Unlike the first three categories, submissions in Community must have a focus in a geographic place. ‘(I think of this as our io9 category.)

The categories are new, but the the contest’s focus on innovative news and information techniques’and’open-source technologies remains.

You can find more details about the Knight News Challenge by reading’today’s official release. We’ll be saying more about the criteria, the review process and the categories in coming weeks here and at’ Meanwhile, I hope that you’ll drop us questions and reactions in the comments section below, via’@knightfdn or at newschallenge at knightfdn dot org.

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