Strengthening journalism, increasing government transparency: 10 new projects – Knight Foundation

Strengthening journalism, increasing government transparency: 10 new projects

Above: The Boston Foundation will use funding to improve coverage of schools.

Update: If you’re at the Council on Foundation’s fall conference, join us at 6 p.m. Tuesday for the Knight Media Mixer. Expect to learn about fellow foundation’s news and information projects, a scavenger hunt with prizes, a spotlight on the 2013 winners of the Knight Community Information Challenge – and a whole lot of networking and noshing. About this time for the last several years, Knight Foundation has celebrated its relationship with community foundations. We’re at it again today, as we announce the latest winners in the Knight Community Information Challenge.

The challenge helps community and place-based foundations become leaders in supporting local news and information, a vital component, we believe, of healthy communities.

We added a new twist this year and encouraged Open Government projects that improve the way people and their governments interact. We see this as a promising area where information and technology can make a difference in engaging more people in local issues. Half of this year’s winners fall into that category.

In Chattanooga, Tenn., an open data collaborative will train the community in how to use the data. In Los Angeles, the idea is to make the city’s budget more understandable, and use that process as an entryway for getting more people involved in the city.

We also have several projects that will strengthen local journalism. The Boston Foundation, for example, is partnering with WBUR and the founders of the news startup Homicide Watch to apply their structured beat reporting model to education coverage. We also have projects to expand news in rural areas of New Mexico and through a new radio partnership in Yakima Valley, Wash.

We believe that this year’s projects are representative of the 170 entries we received from across the country. We look forward to watching these 10 projects develop.

And the winners are:

  • Alaska Community Foundation, $50,000: To bring important public issues to light, investigative journalists will train reporters at the Anchorage Daily News and other media outlets on how to use data to create a compelling, multimedia story.
  • Benwood Foundation, $50,000: Building on successful efforts to make city data more accessible, the Chattanooga Open Government Collaborative will use challenge funding to train key groups, including journalists and city employees, in using the available information.
  • Bluegrass Community Foundation, $25,000: To help strengthen Lexington’s leadership, the foundation and partners at ProgressLex will create a fellowship that will equip local change agents with skills in storytelling and media production.
  • Greater New Orleans Foundation, $50,000: To increase transparency in New Orleans, The Lens, a nonprofit, public-interest newsroom, will collect all public contracts in the city and make them fully searchable and publicly available.
  • Legacy Foundation, $40,000: To empower residents to revitalize their neighborhoods, challenge funds will enable the city of Gary, Indiana to engage the community around improving vacant and abandoned properties.
  • Liberty Hill Foundation, $50,000: To increase transparency in Los Angeles, challenge funds will help the Advancement Project create an easy-to-use online forum and information source about the Los Angeles city budget.
  • New Mexico Community Foundation, $30,000:  To increase access to news across rural New Mexico, challenge funds will help develop a news-sharing service for small-town independent newspapers.
  • P.L. Dodge Foundation, $100,000: As a way to empower South Floridians, Florida Pro Se Mobile is a mobile app that will help low-income residents understand basic legal procedures.
  • The Boston Foundation, $50,000: This partnership—between the Boston Foundation, public radio station WBUR and Glass Eye Media (founders of Homicide Watch) —will launch a statewide education reporting project creating space for thoughtful conversation around improving Massachusetts schools.
  • Yakima Valley Community Foundation, $100,000: To share stories across diverse communities, Northwest Public Radio (NWPR) will partner with public radio station KDNA, a Spanish-language radio station, to create and share reports that both stations will broadcast and disseminate across a variety of platforms.

More detailed descriptions are in today’s press release.

For those headed to the Council on Foundations’ fall conference for community foundations, we will be celebrating the challenge winners – past and present – at a Tuesday night Media Mixer. We hope to see you there.

By Susan Patterson, program director/Charlotte at Knight Foundation

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