Knight Blog

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

Priya Kumar: How Knight Foundation empowers innovators

Oct. 23, 2014, 9 a.m., Posted by Priya Kumar

KNC Summer 2014 participants (Allon Bar, research coordinator and human rights specialist with Ranking Digital Rights, and Program Associate Priya Kumar, right) work on a storytelling exercise during Knight News Challenge: Summer. Photo by Michael Bolden.

Priya Kumar is a program associate with Ranking Digital Rights, a winner of the 2014 Knight News Challenge on strengthening the Internet.

With the help of its 2014 Knight News Challenge award, Ranking Digital Rights is about to get its first look at how well—or not—technology companies are respecting users’ rights to free expression and privacy. I work as a program associate with the project, but I might not have gotten here if it weren’t for a few nudges from Knight Foundation.

Knight’s work does big things – advancing the future of journalism, promoting civic innovation, and cultivating artistic development – to name just a few. But above all, Knight empowers people. Here’s one example of how a few simple actions Knight’s made a profound difference in my professional life.

Nearly two years ago, a graduate school classmate invited me to a “Pitchfest,” a mini Knight News Challenge-style event she organized for the students in her environmental journalism class. Teams of students pitched their ideas for new apps and tools to a panel of expert judges. One of the judges happened to be John Bracken, then Knight’s director of media innovation (and now vice president of that program).

Next City’s New Column, “In Public,” Takes You Inside the Spaces That Foster Civic Life

Oct. 22, 2014, 9 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is supporting the new Next City series "In Public" to help civic innovators better understand how public space and civic life intersect and how these lessons can help build more successful communities. This article is re-posted from (Photo by Allen Skyy via Flickr)

The High Line. Las Ramblas. Tahrir Square. Cincinnati’s Washington Park.

Urban landscapes may be covered by mostly private property, but when we think about cities, we usually picture the swathes of grass and pavement where we jumble together like so many bingo balls. These public spaces can become realms for inclusiveness and social integration or anxious spheres that encourage distance and sorting. While we intuitively sense the difference between Central Park and an office building plaza, rarely do we analyze why some civic spaces succeed in catalyzing empathy and connectivity, while others become isolated by class and race. To better understand how public space and civic life intersect, Next City is launching a new six-month series of articles called “In Public,” with funding from the the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Our global dreams and fears: News as emotion

Oct. 22, 2014, 6 a.m., Posted by Kalev H. Leetaru

Below, Kalev H. Leetaru, a data scientist and the past 2013-2014 Yahoo Fellow at Georgetown University, writes about reimagining news as emotion using the Internet Archives, which Knight Foundation supports

Description: C:\Users\leetaru\Desktop\GLOBALNET\PUBLICATIONS\GP-GDELT-KnightBlogPost-NewsEmotions\figure1-anxiety.png

Figure 1 - Intensity of the emotion “anxiety” in American television news over the last four years

The world’s news media isn’t merely a clinical chronology of global events: It is a lens onto the dreams and fears of our global world.  As journalists report on events from the mundane to the extraordinary, they do so through the lens of their own experiences, beliefs and views. Each unfolding detail is contextualized through the stories of those participating and affected. Coverage of a labor protest goes beyond the impersonal who, when and where, to the what and why, capturing the rich tapestry of emotional undercurrents that define human life.

What if we could quantitatively measure and visualize the emotion of the world’s news? Identifying areas where reporting on a disease outbreak devolves from concern to panic or where a previously downtrodden region suddenly finds a euphoric new vision for the future?  Creating a global “happiness” ranking of the world’s cities and identifying the topics that appear in the most positive and most negative light in every corner of the globe?  In short, what if we could reimagine the news not as a simple conveyer of facts, but as a coarse reflection onto the emotions, the dreams and fears, of global society? Last week we released a dataset that does just that. Here’s how we got there.