Knight Blog

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

Civic Patterns is building a common language for creating news and citizen engagement apps

July 24, 2014, 5 p.m., Posted by Friedrich Lindenberg

This article is cross-posted from Above: ICFJ #CodeCamp in Bellagio, Italy. 

While many in journalism are searching for ways to harness their readers' expertise and to use data to tell compelling stories, technologists and NGOs who build civic technologies around the world are asking some of the same questions. Organizations like the UK's MySociety, US-based Code for America, Code for South Africa or Fundacion Ciudadano Inteligente in Chile develop services that aim to improve interactions between government and citizens.

Both media organizations and NGOs are exploring the development of similar services, such as initiatives to analyze data from their countries' legislatures, tools that facilitate writing and publishing requests for information from government, and databases that help patients find the cheapest medicine. While in some cases such NGOs provide only raw data without much analysis, other initiatives, like Homicide Watch DC, blur the lines between civic technology and journalism.

All aboard the Knight Green Line Challenge

July 24, 2014, 11 a.m., Posted by Polly M. Talen

Photo: St. Paul's new Green Line. Credit: Jonathan Pellgen on Flickr.

Today marks the final day of the 2014 Knight Green Line Challenge. We’re accepting applications until midnight tonight.

Thanks to everyone who already applied and to those of you putting the last touches on your applications. The response to the challenge has been tremendous; we’ve seen such enthusiasm at the Q&A sessions and partner events, in phone calls and visits to, and through the applications themselves. We have been gratified by how many people are eager to find ways to make St. Paul’s Central Corridor neighborhoods along the Green Line even more vibrant places to live, work, play and visit.

After the challenge closes tonight we will share the applications with a terrific team of community readers who will make recommendations to Knight and The Saint Paul Foundation, which administers the challenge. On Aug. 26, we will notify all the applicants and announce the finalists, who will be asked to submit more details about their projects. Stay tuned for that big news.

Knight Prototype Fund winner Checkdesk wants to take online verification to the next level

July 23, 2014, 3:24 p.m., Posted by Natasha Tynes

This article is cross posted from

Verifying the accuracy of social media information is a must for journalists, especially during breaking news events.

Social technology nonprofit Meedan realized the importance of verification while translating social media content between Arabic and English during the Arab Spring, said the organization’s research and communications director Tom Trewinnard.

The challenge of fact-checking info from social media on the fly gave rise to Meedan’s idea for an open source, online verification toolkit for journalists. The result is “Checkdesk,” a feature-rich, live-blogging platform that makes it easy for newsrooms to embed verified social media content into their reporting. It allows journalists to attach a status like "Verified," "False," or "In progress" to a piece of media and collaborate with readers or community members to help in verifying the information.