Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

56 ideas advance in News Challenge on strengthening the Internet

April 18, 2014, 5 p.m., Posted by John Bracken and Chris Sopher


Above: Advisers gather to review applications in Mozilla's offices. Photo credit: John Bracken. 

Yesterday we huddled with 14 advisers in Mozilla’s San Francisco office to help us determine a group of semifinalists in the News Challenge. Today, we’re sending notices to 56 projects asking them for additional information. We’ll look at their submissions over the next few weeks and, after considering the advice of another set of advisers, we’ll notify a group of finalists on May 12.

We received 704 submissions in the contest, which is focused on the question “How can we strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation?”

We saw ideas covering a range of topics, among them access to the Internet, freedom of expression and ideas to fix the Web. Now we enter the “refinement phase.” For the next 10 days, we encourage you to review the entries and add your comments, questions and suggestions. During refinement, semifinalists will get the chance to provide more details about their ideas and respond to community input.

After the refinement phase, we’ll review the entries offline and select the winners. We will announce that group on June 23 at the MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference in Cambridge, Mass. Winners will receive a share of $2.75 million.

Get with the program: Developing an action plan for successful cities

April 18, 2014, 9:08 a.m., Posted by Carol Coletta


Photo credit: Flickr user Forgemind ArchiMedia.

If you’ve ever hired an architect to design a project, you probably spent a lot of time up front talking about the “program” for the project. The program describes how you want to use the space and the activities you want the space to support. If you are renovating a home (as I am currently), you might say, I want to make sure I have space that meets my needs for work I have to do at home or encourages me to do sit-ups when the mood strikes.

The same is true of the buildings and public spaces that make up a city. All of these places can be programmed to encourage and discourage certain behaviors.

Take, for instance, offices of the latest tech firms. They are all designed to encourage employees to meet and mingle serendipitously so that they share ideas. Co-working and incubator spaces are usually heavy on social areas, too.  

Or take New York under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The mayor passionately promoted the concept of “active design” to promote physical activity and health through design.   

Journalism awards: Let a thousand bloom

April 18, 2014, 9:07 a.m., Posted by Eric Newton


Photo credit: Flickr user Tony Hammond.

Every year about now journalism contest winners spring up like a riot of crocuses (the Pulitzer Prizes the best example) and my thoughts float back to the Oakland Tribune.

Critics of journalism awards say they are too many – like best baby contests or even dog shows – to mean anything.  But I can remember a time when even the smallest award helped keep us going at the Trib. Picture a city wracked by an earthquake (1989) and an urban firestorm (1991). Chunks of our advertising and readership lost to natural disaster, the Tribune was a flat-broke daily paper before it was fashionable.

Our newsroom was talented. Yet it had taken pay cuts. It was ambitious. But it might be out of business in a month or even a week. It was wonderfully diverse, yet incredibly young. We experimented but without money.

Say what you will about prizes. They helped. We won more than 150 awards for our journalism from roughly 1986 to 1992 when I was city editor, assistant managing editor and managing editor at the Trib under Bob and Nancy Maynard, the first African-American couple to own a major mainstream paper.