Knight Blog

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

Lessons from the Knight News Challenge: Core concepts in brand building

Oct. 31, 2014, 11:49 a.m., Posted by Peter Spear


KNC Summer breakfast gathering in Kansas City. Photo by Michael Bolden.

For the past few years I have been working with Knight Foundation to bring brand thinking into the media innovation space. I have had the great pleasure to work with a range of projects—from established organizations such as WITNESS, The Tor Project, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to true startup teams.

This summer, we gathered in Kansas City, Mo., with winners of the Knight News Challenge and did some lightning round sessions to rapidly introduce core concepts of brand building. It’s what I call brand listening; it requires both observation and conversation to understand who an organization is serving and why it exists.

Here are some of the key insights I shared during those sessions.

Emotional manipulation is inevitable (Brand is not evil).

The gathering at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center began with a wonderful work session led by Lea Thau of The Moth on the art of storytelling. During this session, she was asked how to communicate in a way that assured the audience would not feel emotionally manipulated.

Hackathon will help recode South Florida history

Oct. 31, 2014, 10:15 a.m., Posted by David W. McCombie III


Miami Herald satellite phone and photo transmittal system from the early 1990s on view at HistoryMiami. 

Why does history matter? 

History is about telling the stories of our past. It has the power to bring people from diverse backgrounds together for exploration, discovery and learning. In this spirit, HistoryMiami, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution,, along with the museum's seven-member Advisory Board will host a 24-hour hackathon event called Night at the Museum: Recoding History.

The hackathon  will bring together developers, designers and the creative communities to design new, digital ways to bring South Florida’s diverse and rich history to more people.

"HistoryMiami hopes to use this event to help the organization rethink the way the museum's collection should be experienced,” said Stuart Chase, the museum’s director/COO. “By allowing the museum to be seen through a highly collaborative and innovative approach, HistoryMiami will highlight the collection of unique historical photographs and documents in a profoundly new manner."

Broadsides and craft brews at Miami Book Fair’s the Swamp

Oct. 31, 2014, 7 a.m., Posted by Lissette Mendez

Lissette Mendez is director of programs for Miami Book Fair International, which Knight Foundation supports. Image: 'Somewhere.' For Sweat Broadside Project II, artists and writers collaborated on pairing original artwork with poems.

The Swamp, a new event space at Miami Book Fair International sponsored by Knight Foundation, celebrates the writers, filmmakers, visual artists and musicians (and some who fall between those disciplines!) who are creating work and defining culture in the Sunshine State. Among those culture makers are the writers and visual artists who are part of Sweat Broadside Project II.

Florida-based writers and artists came together to form Word and Image Lab (WAIL), a group that encourages community conversation and opportunities for collaboration among writing and the visual and performing arts. For Sweat Broadside Project II, artist/writer duos created the broadsides, which feature their collaborative pairings of original artworks and poems. The printing processes vary widely and include letterpress, lithography, etching, silkscreen, woodcut and archival ink-jet printing.