News @ Knight: Supporting Ukrainian journalists; KMF22 highlights

🇺🇦 Welcome! We’re happy to have you here for our first official News @ Knight newsletter. If you had this forwarded to you, I hope you’ll sign up here.

While my original intent was to lead off with a recap of the Knight Media Forum, it’s impossible to start with any topic other than what’s happening in Ukraine right now. While the chances of a peaceful resolution to this crisis had seemed slim for some time, that doesn’t change how jarring it was to wake up Thursday to a different world than the one we went to sleep to on Wednesday. 

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called for the protection of Ukrainian journalists and those covering the conflict, and all of us at Knight unequivocally echo that sentiment. CPJ’s regional teams are continuing to work to both keep journalists safe and the public informed, and Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, detailed some of the challenges journalists are facing covering this conflict. 

If you’ve watched cable news over the past five days, you’ve seen it at its best: on the ground, on the air, on the job. It’s an important reminder of the impact journalism can and should have on our world, whether we’re covering a global war, a national election or a local zoning board meeting. Preserving that kind of local journalism is part of what prompted the creation of the Knight Media Forum in 2008.

Knight Media Forum Highlights

🏛️ Even in light of this global emergency, attendance and participation at this 15th Knight Media Forum was strong. An all-time-high of 3,511 people registered for the Forum. And peak attendance reached 1,311 people, a 14 percent increase from 2021. If you missed any of the plenaries (or want to re-watch any), the videos have now been posted here

Here are some highlights:

  • We kicked off KMF with a powerful panel featuring Dr. Wayne Frederick, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Nikole Hannah-Jones that discussed the need to rethink core journalistic tenets and how Howard University plans to train the next generation of Black journalists to report by incorporating investigative skills, data, history and context.
  • Over the course of KMF, we heard from a wide variety of speakers, including Axios CEO and co-founder Jim VandeHei, who talked about the rapidly expanding Axios Local initiative and his belief that for-profit solutions remain the best path forward for local journalism. This led to my favorite occurrence of any KMF: a spirited-but-respectful debate during the Q&A. 
  • Amy Webb, as always, fired us up with her discussion of emerging tech trends. Dave Isay made us cry by showing us some of the amazing work StoryCorps has done and gave us hope that his new One Small Step initiative can help bridge ideological divides by reminding us to see each other as humans first.
  • The Forum also laid out the need for greater collaboration across journalism editorially, financially and technologically. It hit on the peril of medical disinformation; on the government’s proper role in supporting journalism; why we must continue to make progress hiring diverse senior newsroom leaders; and what the next generation of consumers may well expect from us – and whether we’re built to deliver it. We heard from publishers who have found successful business models that are different but all begin with community at their center. 

Personally, I felt it was a strong KMF that covered a wide-but-timely range of topics. But the thoughts of those who attended count the most. So, when you get a moment, we’d love it if you’d fill out the survey we’ve sent out. The success of Knight Media Forum is tied to bringing value to the media professionals, educators and funders the event was designed to serve. 

Other News Around the Horn…


🏆 Collaboration for the win: The Tampa Bay Times, working with PBS Frontline’s Local Journalism Initiative, exposed unsafe conditions at a lead-smelting plant that poisoned its workers. The audio, video and data reporting led to action from federal, state and local regulators to improve conditions, address worker health problems and punish the company. It also led to a George Polk Award for the series. I’m proud that this work came as part of the Local Journalism Initiative that Knight launched with Frontline in 2019. 


👨🏽‍💼Celestand named LMA program director: The Local Media Association has named John Celestand program director for the Knight x LMA Bloom Lab project announced last week. John comes to LMA from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, where he was Director of Engagement. He also has something rare in the journalism world: an NBA championship ring, earned as a member of the 2000 Los Angeles Lakers team that included a few guys you may have heard of named Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. 

👨🏽‍💼Peña takes charge: The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) has selected David Peña Jr. as its new executive director. Pena previously led the National Hispanic Business Association and Hispanic Dental Association, and brings 20+ years of experience creating programs, scholarships, mentorships and connections among emerging Latino leaders. Welcome to the news biz, David!


🏎️ Maynard 200 Fellowship is expanding its year-long training and mentorship program, now with 50 diverse fellows in four tracks: investigative storytellers, executive leaders, entrepreneurs and frontline editors and managers. Jump on the bandwagon and apply by March 7!


🥊Fighting bogus facts: Georgetown’s Free Speech Project will host a virtual event today at 2 p.m. ET titled, “Does Our ‘Knowledge’ These Days Rely on Facts, Rumors, of Bogus Theories?” This session should serve as a strong complement to the medical misinformation panel we convened at KMF.


🌟 Houston, we don’t have a problem: Baltimore, Cleveland… now Houston. And each metro shall have its new nonprofit mega-nova. A brand new nonprofit news outlet in Houston has already raised $20 million via the Houston Endowment, American Journalism Project, Knight Foundation and others. The aim? Fill the coverage gaps and provide free news to the community, with support from philanthropy, memberships and sponsorships. Read more about the Houston Local News Initiative, still seeking a catchy name. 

News @ Knight Credits

Written by Jim Brady, with Mark Glaser

Edited by Jessica Clark & Kenny Ma

Produced by Kenny Ma

Executive Produced by Heidi Barker & Jim Brady

Godfathered by Alberto Ibargüen

A Knight + Dot Connector Joint

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