MIT Media Lab to bring more digital tools into newsrooms with $1.2 million from Knight Foundation

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. — June 23, 2014 –The MIT Media Lab will help develop and identify new technologies for newsrooms, especially tools for community engagement, with $1.2 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The investment will also support ongoing work at the MIT Center for Civic Media, a key convenor of innovators, researchers and journalists.

The Future of News initiative aims to help the MIT Media Lab apply its research to the range of challenges faced by newsrooms today, including those focused on engaging audiences more deeply on issues affecting their community. The Media Lab will work to produce technology that helps reporters track local needs — such as a tool that analyzes conversations from public safety scanners, or software that allows TV broadcasters to share links to relevant stories during live political debates. Master’s degree candidates focusing on news technologies will contribute to the work.

“The MIT Media Lab can help to craft the future of news by providing journalists with tools they need to better inform the public and spark civic engagement,” said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism and media innovation. “Great strides have been made towards this goal by the Media Lab and Center for Civic Media in recent years; by bringing more of these tools and lessons to newsrooms we can put this work to action.”

“Technology is disrupting both the business model and the editorial process of journalism. Turning this disruption into opportunity requires the fusion of real newsroom experience and experience with the new emerging technology and forms of social media and civic action,” said Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab and Knight Foundation trustee. “We expect our Future of News initiative to bring these elements together and impact the future of journalism in a positive way.”

The Media Lab will establish stronger relationships with newsrooms and hold networking events for news organizations and researchers to help put these tools in place. To this end, Bloomberg LP today announced that it will join the Future of News initiative as a founding member. Bloomberg is focused on exploring the intersection of journalism, technology and data, and discovering ways to provide news for audiences around the world. In December, Bloomberg will host a Media Lab conference on this topic at its headquarters in New York.

“As technology and changing consumption habits continue to disrupt all facets of the news business, there’s no better time for MIT’s Future of News initiative,” said Justin B. Smith, CEO of  Bloomberg Media Group. “At Bloomberg, we are currently reimagining our entire operation to build the leading, next generation media company for global business, so collaborating with MIT Media Lab was a natural fit and we’re thrilled to be a founding member.”

The funding will also extend Knight’s relationship with the Center for Civic Media for one year. The Center develops and implements tools that help journalists and communities empower citizens toward more civic engagement. The Center plans to complete and release a number of promising civic engagement tools that will inform communities and help spur interest in civic issues.

“What does it mean to be a citizen in the digital age? This new funding will further our work on that answer by allowing us to create tools that help citizens influence and shape their communities not just at election time but every day,” said Ethan Zuckerman, who directs the Center for Civic Media.

A joint effort between the MIT Media Lab and the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program, the Center for Civic Media was a first-year winner of the Knight News Challenge. Since then, the Center has collaborated with Knight to accelerate media innovation and expand community engagement, partnering on the Knight News Challenge and the annual MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference.

For more information on the MIT Media Lab visit; for more information on the Center for Civic Media visit

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

About the MIT Media Lab

Actively promoting a unique, antidisciplinary culture, the MIT Media Lab encourages an unconventional mixing and matching of seemingly disparate research areas. Since opening its doors in 1985, the Lab has pioneered such areas as wearables, tangible interfaces, and affective computing. Today, faculty members, research staff, and students at the Lab work in more than 25 research groups on some 350 projects that range from digital approaches for treating neurological disorders; to a stackable, electric car for sustainable cities; to

smart prostheses; to advanced imaging technologies that can “see around a corner.” The Lab is supported by more than 70 sponsors, including some of the world’s leading corporations.

About the MIT Center for Civic Media

The MIT Center for Civic Media works hand in hand with diverse communities to collaboratively create, design, deploy, and assess civic media tools and practices.

The Center features inventors of new technologies that support and foster civic media and political action, acts as a hub for the study of these technologies, and coordinates community-based design processes locally in the Boston area, across the United States, and around the world.

Bridging two established programs at MIT—one known for inventing alternate technical futures, the other for identifying the cultural and social potential of media change—the Center for Civic Media is a joint effort between the MIT Media Lab and MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing. It is made possible by funding from the Knight Foundation.

About Bloomberg

Bloomberg, the global business and financial information and news leader, gives influential decision makers a critical edge by connecting them to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas. The company’s strength – delivering data, news and analytics through innovative technology, quickly and accurately – is at the core of the Bloomberg Professional service, which provides real time financial information to more than 320,000 subscribers globally. Bloomberg’s enterprise solutions build on the company’s core strength, leveraging technology to allow customers to access, integrate, distribute and manage data and information across organizations more efficiently and effectively. Through Bloomberg Government, Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Bloomberg BNA, the company provides data, news and analytics to decision makers in industries beyond finance. And Bloomberg News, delivered through the Bloomberg Professional service, television, radio, mobile, the Internet and three magazines, Bloomberg Businessweek, Bloomberg Markets and Bloomberg Pursuits, covers the world with more than 2,400 news and multimedia professionals at more than 150 bureaus in 73 countries. Headquartered in New York, Bloomberg employs more than 15,500 people in 192 locations around the world. For more information visit


Alexandra Kahn, Senior Press Liaison, MIT Media Lab, 617-253-0365, [email protected]

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]

Amanda Cowie, Communications, Bloomberg Media Group, [email protected], 212 617 1689