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Chris Sopher

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      Today in Miami, we’re gathering 16 journalists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to help us review the semi-finalists in the latest Knight News Challenge, on mobile.   By the end of the day, we hope to have 10-12 finalists that we’ll examine more deeply over the next few weeks. (If you are one of those finalists, you can expect to hear from us by next week.) We expect to bring about five to seven of those forward for consideration by Knight Foundation’s trustees at its December board meeting and to publicly announce the winners in January of 2013. The semi-finalists projects are: A Mobile Good Health Community Abayima Amongst Apps for Good Augmented Reality & Geolocation Toolkit Backyard Budget Mobile Boomerang Mojo News Byzantium Carbon Creditor CityStatus Commons DialFly documentaryMapper Elva Escape Velocity FINtegrate Human.io Is this for real? Live field reporting narratives LocalWiki Mobile Louisiana Smart Grid mActivist in a Box Mobilizing Psychology n0tice Customizable citizen reporting National Council on Aging Navajo InfoWire NC Mobile Voter Guide Open 311 Mobile Dashboard Open mHealth Project Mobile Connections Remote Access: Connecting threatened communities with the outside world ReSystem: Rethinking media in developing countries scalable networked community radio Secure Mobile Communications Tool for Journalists StormCrowd Textizen: Citizen feedback for the digital age Thread Virtual town meeting WeFarm: Reaching the 75% Wikipedia mobile In addition to those listed above, we are also reviewing 13 closed applications.
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    This morning, we announced the winners of the Knight News Challenge: Data. We’d also like to share the 15 finalists. While we weren’t able to fund all of them, we enjoyed getting to know more about the people and ideas behind them, and hope to see them come to life in the months ahead. We've heard that it’s valuable for people to see the original applications for the projects that rose to the top, so gathered them them all in one place. If you want to learn more about each of the finalists and the winners, check out the links to each of their original submissions (an asterisk notes a News Challenge: Data winner). Census.IRE.org (*) Joe Germuska, John Keefe, Ryan Pitts, Investigative Reporters & Editors Community Health Analytics: Making Community Health Data Useful Scott Lee, Harvard University Computer Assisted Text Analysis for Journalism Gary King, Harvard University Data Toys Heather Chaplin, Colleen Macklin, John Sharp, The New School The Internet of News Things Matt Waite, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Hyperaudio Pad Mark Boas, Happyworm
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    Knight News Challenge: Data Winners from Knight Foundation on Vimeo. UPDATE: Watch the winners present their projects via web stream at 1 p.m. PDT/ 4 p.m. EDT Saturday Sept. 22 here.  Today we’re excited to share with you the winners of the Knight News Challenge: Data. First, some background: We ran the contest for three weeks, ending June 20. And we sought ideas to help make the large amounts of data we’re creating more useful and informative. We received 881 applications, which we reviewed with the help of a group of advisers. We identified 50 proposals to discuss further, and in July we brought to Miami a group of reviewers to advise us.  We listened to their advice, had internal conversations, and conducted interviews and due diligence with 15 applicants. As we announce the below winners, we’re in the midst of reviewing applications for the News Challenge: Mobile, and later this fall we’ll begin planning our first News Challenge of 2013, on tools for open government. Knight News Challenge: Data Winners (Full project lead bios are here) Census.IRE.org Award: $450,000 Winner: Joe Germuska, Chicago; John Keefe, New York; Ryan Pitts, Spokane, Wash. Despite the high value of Census data, the U.S. Census Bureau’s tools for exploring the data are difficult to use. A group of news developers built Census.IRE.org for the 2010 Census to help journalists more easily access Census data. Following early positive feedback, the team will expand and simplify the tool, and add new data sets including the annual American Community Survey, which informs decisions on how more than $400 billion in government funding is distributed. LocalData Award: $300,000 Winners: Amplify Labs, Alicia Rouault, Prashant Singh and Matt Hampel, Detroit, Mich. Whether tracking crime trends, cataloging real estate development or assessing parks and play spaces, communities gather millions of pieces of data each year. Such data are often collected haphazardly on paper forms or with hard-to-use digital tools, limiting their value. LocalData is a set of tools that helps community groups and city residents gather and organize information by designing simple surveys, seamlessly collecting it on paper or smartphone and exporting or visualizing it through an easy-to-use dashboard. Founded by Code for America fellows, the tools have already been tested in Detroit, where they helped document urban blight by tracking the condition of thousands of lots.
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    Photo credit: Flickr user Eole  This evening, we’re gathering 19 leading journalists, technologists and civic innovators in New Orleans to explore what’s next in local news. We’ll be focussing on what a local news organization designed today for 2013 would look like. This meeting builds on convenings we held we held each of the last two years.  In 2010, we brought together the growing group of startup news organizations and we gathered a smaller group last year.  Over time, we’ve all learned a good deal about what does and does not work with local projects in the digital age. We’ve organized this meeting because we see an opportunity to step back and focus more broadly on what’s missing, the needs and opportunities, and what we can build. Evan Smith, the founder and editor of the Texas Tribune, will kick things off with a talk Thursday night. Katie Zhu will be reporting on the proceedings. We plan to share some of what we learned later this month. We hope to emerge from the meeting with a set of ideas for future exploration, and with blueprints around which someone could build a local news initiative.
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    Photo Credit: Flickr user girl_onthe_les There are only four days left to submit your application to the Knight News Challenge: Mobile, which closes at noon ET on Sept. 10. If you’re still thinking about how to form your idea, have questions that aren’t answered by our FAQ or want to clarify anything about the application, you can join us for News Challenge office hours. At 1:00 p.m. ET, Friday Sept. 7, join us for a video/audio hangout with Knight’s John Bracken, director Journalism/Media Innovation, and Christopher Sopher, journalism program associate. You can join the session by Skype or by phone: TO JOIN BY SKYPE: Please note: You must have the latest version of Skype open and be logged in. https://bluejeans.com/820229184/skype TO JOIN BY PHONE: Dial in toll free number: +1 888 240 2560 Meeting ID: 820229184
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    Photo Credit: Flickr user girl_onthe_les Update: News Challenge Office Hours: Get your questions answered at 1 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 7. Related: A deeper look at the News Challenge application questions and How to make your News Challenge: Mobile application stand out We’re excited to announce the theme for the third Knight News Challenge of 2012: mobile. We hope to learn about new approaches for using mobile to inform and engage communities, and build the foundation for others to do more in the future. We will open the contest on Aug. 29 and will close at noon EDT Sept. 10, on newschallenge.org. We plan to announce the winners early next year. As with the two prior News Challenge contests this year, on networks and data, we will keep the application light, limited to 500 words and a few questions. Why mobile? With 6 billion devices worldwide, according to the World Bank, the world will soon have more mobile phones than people.  The mobile device is so much more than a “phone”-- Jeff  Jarvis, among others, has argued that we need a better term for the device. “Mobile is my personal bubble. It is enhanced convenience, putting the device and the world in my hand,” he says. We saw this personal tinge to tech last week in the NASA Curiosity Command Center where staff, while landing a robot on Mars, were updating their friends and family via their phones (according to an interview with Bobak Ferdowsi.)   Despite these trends, and the presence of several mobile projects in our own portfolio  (including winners from Knight News Challenge on Networks PeepolTV, Behavio and Watchup), we realized how much we have to learn about this fundamental shift.  For many of us around the world, mobile has become an important tool for learning what’s going on around us, and for sharing details about our lives with friends, neighbors and strangers. We know that we (and our kids) have grown attached to our mobile devices, but we have less clarity about the ways people are using them, or might use them, as citizens, content producers and consumers to tell, share and receive stories. We’ve focused the News Challenge this year on big opportunities in news and information - networks, data and now mobile. In some ways, mobile represents both the greatest need and greatest potential for individual citizens and news organizations.
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    Today in Boston, Knight is sponsoring Awesome Summit: Connect, an Awesome Foundation conference focused on rethinking and democratizing philanthropy. (You can follow the conversation via the Center for Civic Media’s blog and on Twitter via #awesummit.) We became a part of the Awesome Foundation community last year, when we funded the creation of the Awesome Foundation News Taskforce, starting with a project to support media innovation in Detroit. Today, we announced five new projects with the same theme of media innovation: SuperPAC App, Jennifer Hollett and Dan Siegel  SuperPAC App, a project that grew from the MIT Media Lab, is building an app that allows users to quickly capture audio from an ad that's playing on TV or online and fingerprint it. The app then delivers the user information about the ad, including what organization paid for it, where the ad is running and information about the organization funding it. Users can share, comment on and interact with news about the ad. TheLi.st, Rachel Sklar (pictured left) & Glynnis MacNicol Rachel Sklar, creator of Change the Ratio (a project aimed at increasing the presence and success of women in technology and entrepreneurship), is taking her community of leading women to the next level. Sklar and MacNicol are launching TheLi.st, a hub for women in technology that includes a subscription listserve and discussion community, free content and resources for women in the field, and events and convenings on the topic. Knight Foundation is supporting TheLi.st’s work to engage more women in innovation and technology, and to support their rise and success in the space. These three projects will receive support through our new prototype fund, which offers $50,000 or less to test promising media innovation projects:  
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      Based on the comments from our team of advisers who helped review the apps and our internal own review, we’ve selected and are in the process of contacting 16 finalists in the Knight News Challenge: Data. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be doing in-person interviews or video chats with each of them them. We’ll announce that list of finalists, and the winners of the contest, in September. This morning, we’ve also sent an email to the remaining 765 letting them know that they will not be receiving funding via the the News Challenge. One of the great things about the News Challenge is that it exposes us (and everyone else who reads the entries) to ideas and people. While we can fund only a fraction of the ideas that come through the News Challenge, we have other means for funding promising initiatives. For example, last month, we announced a grant to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to fund an idea that originally came to us through the News Challenge on Networks. And our new prototype fund  allows us to test ideas quickly - we announced some that will receive funding last month. We’ve begun to reach out to some News Challenge applicants to explore whether their ideas might fit this program, and we plan to announce some prototype grants soon. Here are a few of the insights we took from last week’s review session: A need for partners. We saw many projects with promising concepts or products, but that need partnerships with news organizations or others to test their use cases and find social impact. There’s a need for better partner matching in the media innovation space. Data standardization. A segment of applications dealt with the need for standardization of data. Designing for user experiences. The strongest projects were those that joined compelling uses of data with an experience carefully designed for a well-understood group of users. Many data projects are taking the next step from availability to effective presentation and interaction.