What difference did we make in the world and what was learned?
Discovering the answers to these two fundamental questions helps improve the effectiveness of Knight Foundation's work. Each year, we and our partner grantees direct our time, energy and resources to support projects intended to strengthen communities. Understanding what's been achieved provides the insights needed to improve a project's implementation and to design and set future strategies.
One way in which the Knight Foundation tries to answer these questions is by hiring independent journalists to write articles reviewing our grant making. Veteran reporters examine grant documents, conduct interviews and offer their perspective on the lessons learned and impact of Knight-supported projects in stories published online and in print. This initiative, known as the Reporter Analysis Series, began in 2006.
The series sits along side other evaluative tools we use to share information about grantee projects and lessons learned. The reports are not classical 'impact assessments.' No one expects them to provide a comprehensive project evaluation. Instead they offer a simple means of telling the story of what happened, gathering feedback and communicating findings in an accessible and easy-to-follow narrative.
So far this year we have completed two reports on Knight-funded projects. The first reviewed the story of 1st ACT Silicon Valley, a broad-based leadership collaborative focused on supporting arts and culture and improving the built environment in San Jose.
Report: Latin American Journalists Die, Their Stories Untold
Created in 1995, the IAPA presses governments for justice in the murder of journalists, manages public awareness campaigns, trains journalists how to operate in dangerous areas and investigates journalists' murders through its Rapid Response Units in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil.
Danger Zone: Journalists Under Siege in Mexico visits three countries to look at unpunished crimes against journalists.
The report, also available in Spanish, highlighted several key findings. Since the Project Against Impunity began prosecutors have won convictions for 59 of the 258 killings of journalists in Latin America. Governments now face consistent pressures from the IAPA to provide justice. But the advertising campaign meant to stir public outrage has lots its effectiveness. The IAPA's impact unsurprisingly varies considerably between countries given the conditions on the ground. For example, in Colombia, formerly the hardest-hit country, killings of journalists have dropped sharply, thanks in part to the policies of former President Alvaro Uribe. While in Mexico, the ongoing drug war and the government's inability to arrest and try the killers of journalists has overwhelmed the IAPA's efforts to bring justice there.
The findings were disseminated at the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) and IAPA joint summit on violence against journalists working along the US-Mexican Border, December 5-6, 2010.
An article on the Reporter Analysis Series was published in the Foundation Review in their special issue on Strategic Communications.
The series was also covered by Sean Standard-Stockton in his blog, Tactical Philanthropy.