Knight Prototype Fund: building and testing new ideas to push media innovation forward

Today we’re excited to announce the Knight Prototype Fund, which will help entrepreneurs, journalists and tinkerers of all kinds build and test new ideas that push media forward. Prototype grants will offer $50,000 or less of funding over a shorter time cycle than our normal grants.

The cost and time requirements of quickly testing projects—particularly digital ones—continues to fall, and we’re working to adapt our grantmaking to the speed of that innovation. The prototype fund is a key component of that work. We’ll have several dozen prototype projects active at once, and we’ll work closely with each project to measure its progress. As successful projects emerge, we’ll help them find the next stage of financial and programmatic support they need to scale. The scope of the fund is broad, and we’re interested in applications from anyone and everyone with an idea in journalism and media innovation. The Knight Prototype Fund application can be found online (updated link 6/28/12). These are just a few of the fund’s first projects: Jefferson Institute: social media and opinion research tool The Jefferson Institute, creator of the demographic data project Patchwork Nation, will test its concept for a research tool allowing journalists and others to overlay demographic, geographic and public opinion data with social media data and sentiment analysis. Jefferson Institute hopes this tool will surface new insights about how different communities engage with current events. University of Nebraska-Lincoln: drone journalism Professor Matt Waite will lead a project to research and experiment with drone vehicles as potential tools for news and public data collection. The university will conduct live experiments as well as research into the ethics, legal issues and best practices of drone journalism.

By Michael Maness, vice president/journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation

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