Knight Blog

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

Next to the live video feed: the campaign contributions

Feb. 26, 2010, 2:56 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

The Sunlight Foundation demonstrated during the Health Care Reform Summit 2010 that open government data can allow journalists, bloggers and citizens to provide context to a live news event.

Preview of Sunlight Live As officials testified,'Sunlight provided a live feed which displayed lifetime campaign contribution data, as well as'Twitter and blog commentary'all on the same page, which can be seen to the right.

At least 50,000 users tuned in to the page.'Participants were encouraged to join the blog conversations and to tweet about the summit, which is the only feature on the Web site that remains active.

The Sunlight Foundation would love to hear what you thought about Sunlight Live. Fill out a survey here. A Knight Foundation grant to Sunlight Foundation is helping create "widgets" content providers can use to provide data on members of congress, including their votes, budget earmarks, campaign contributors and more.

Poynter released an article on news organizations, such as Sunlight,'covering live events like health care summit with immediacy and depth. Check it out.

' Marly Falcon, Knight Foundation contributing blogger

J-Lab's director looks at the new "media makers"

Feb. 26, 2010, 2:49 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

J-Lab's Jan Schaeffer gave a speech Wednesday night at USC Annenberg on the role of new media makers.' Here's a piece of' her comprehensive look at start-ups:

Many of these clues suggest that while news consumers certainly need watchdogs, they also need guide dogs as well. While they certainly need news, sometimes all they need is good information. And while they want conversation and participation, they also appreciate a level of connection that demonstrates an attachment and some caring about their community ' not detached, clinical observations. They want to know about issues, choices and possible solutions. And they'd also like to know where people agree and not just where they are shouting in disagreement. Some of these clues, I believe, tell us that professional journalists need to reexamine some of their old habits, their journalistic conventions, to meet the genuine information needs of their communities.

To read the rest, follow the link. Knight Foundation funds several J-Lab projects, including the Knight Batten Awards, the Knight Citizen News Network and New Voices.

NPR wins big at "Eyes of History" Contest

Feb. 26, 2010, 8:57 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

NPR won big at the White House News Photographers Association's "Eyes of History" contest, which recognizes achievements in photojournalism. With 15 awards, the list of winners is long but can be found here. Congratulations NPR!

The video below won first place for the best use of photography and audio (without narration).

' Marly Falcon, Knight Foundation contributing blogger

Teach For America to triple South Florida impact

Feb. 26, 2010, 8:18 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Over the next five years, Teach for America will more than triple its number of teachers in Miami-Dade county with the help of a $6 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. By 2014, some 350 Teach for America educators will reach more than 25,000 students in Miami-Dade public schools.

Teach For America is the national corps of recent college graduates who commit to teaching at public schools for two years and become livelong leaders in education. Today, 7,300 corps members and 17,000 alumni are working for fundamental change to ensure educational excellence and equity.

Kimberly Williams, a Teach For America corps educator at Miami Central Senior High School, and her 11th grade student Kettysha Collydmore shared their stories Thursday night to an audience of Miami-Dade corps educators:

Dennis Scholl, Miami Program Director for Knight Foundation, believes that Teach for America is the right program to create systemic change in Miami's education system.

"The achievement gap in this community's schools is a massive gap. But the good news is it's fixable ' and Teach for America knows how to do it," Scholl said Thursday night. "Today, [Teach For America educators] are changing the culture of our schools, classroom by classroom. Tomorrow, we expect [them] to stick around as alumni and be the educators and advocates Miami-Dade needs to continue to move this community forward."

A feeder pattern for teacher placement has been developed to help ensure students success is maintained over time. Teachers will move from elementary schools to middle schools and from middle schools to high schools so that students have the opportunity to be a part of Teach For America for more than one year.

Read the Miami Herald for a story and an editorial on Teach For America. To learn more and donate, visit

Helping community leaders understand what makes a place "home"

Feb. 25, 2010, 12:40 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Last week, Knight Foundation representatives met with Philadelphia's mayor, Michael Nutter, and community leaders to discuss what drives peoples attachments to their community.

Phillies fans celebrate victory during a parade on Broad Street in downtown Philadelphia in November 2008. Creative Commons photo by Flickr member SnakeManRob.

Katherine Loflin, lead consultant for Knight Foundation's Soul of the Community, a three-year study with Gallup, presented an overview of the project and identified three community factors that emotionally attach residents to the Philadelphia area: (1)Openness and (2) social offerings, both of which need improvement to further encourage attachment to place, and (3) aesthetics, which is seen by residents of Philadelphia as a community strength.

These findings are not exclusive to Philadelphia. In the third year the study, these three factors are consistently emerging as being key to tying residents to place in all 26 communities that are a part of the study.

Communicating findings from Soul of the Community is crucial to helping local government and community leaders better understand why residents choose to make a particular place their home.

Gary Steuer, Chief Cultural Officer for the City of Philadelphia, writes in his blog:

"I think this research can serve as a persuasive new public policy tool in helping decision-makers understand the role that arts and culture play in a community ..."

Loflin adds: "It's always very rewarding to share this information with community leadership and residents because their enthusiasm and interest in the findings continue to show us that we are on to something important here."

For more on Soul of the Community, please visit

Ashoka Fellow Offers Predictions for 2010

Feb. 25, 2010, 1:46 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Ashoka, a Knight Foundation grantee, asked its fellows to offer predictions for 2010. The fellows were asked the following questions: what changes will 2010 bring, what will you make happen in 2010 and what changes do you hope to see by the end of the coming decade. One fellow, Sanjana Hattotuwa, stood out with his responses.

For the first question, regarding changes in 2010, here is a piece of what Hattotuwa had to say:

We will lose friends and colleagues in 2010. Some of us will be killed or imprisoned, or called terrorists and forced to leave the home and country we love first, and the most. All of us will use our own media to tell our stories, competing with the narratives of others. The best narratives we consume, remember, and compel us to act will be those that inspire us, showcase resilience, simple acts of defiance and courage and even of violence against injustice' All journalists will realize that to sustain empathy in protracted conflict, to communicate the horror of a program or genocide, to influence progressive policy and strengthen aid, stories need to be personal, compelling and inspire hope.

To read all of Hattotuwa's responses, click here.

-- Marly Falcon, contributing blogger of Knight Foundation

Honoring Local Heroes

Feb. 25, 2010, 1:24 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Sunshine Week is honoring local heroes. Mark Mahoney is one of them. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for his open government coverage and ASNE's editorial award in 2004.

Mahoney is an editorial page editor at the Post Star in Glens Falls, N.Y. His editorials focus on the dangers of government secrecy.

Here are a few samples of his work.

-- Marly Falcon, Knight Foundation contributing blogger


News21: What are the graduates up to?

Feb. 19, 2010, 5:27 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

The results are in. News21 has released the alumni report update for its 2009 fellows.

Of the 94 fellows that completed the program, 52 (55.3 percent) are working full time.' This includes three freelancers/independent journalists who report full-time work. Of the 52 full-time workers, 87 percent report working for media companies or in communications jobs.

Twelve (12.7 percent) are working part time, 22 (23.4 percent) are still in school, seven (7.4 percent) are still looking for work and one is not currently seeking employment.

Compared to the Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Graduates by Lee Becker, with the most recent study in 2008, News21 students have had more success in finding full time jobs than other journalism graduates.

For the comparison between the two studies to be accurate, only News21 students who have graduated (76 students) are included.

Here are the results.

The Becker Survey shows that 60.4 percent of journalism graduates have found full time employment, while News21 results show that 68.4 percent of graduates found full time employment.

Of those surveyed by Lee Becker, only 50 percent are working in communications jobs, while 86 percent of News21 graduates are in communications jobs.

As one can see, News21 graduates perform significantly better than the national average when it comes to employment, especially in communications jobs.

Enter the YOUR PBS Video Contest!

Feb. 19, 2010, 10:26 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

I love PBS! (Seriously ' have you checked out the new video player ? It's pretty incredible'all that content, anytime I want it. Wow.)

What about you? Because PBS wants to hear it!

PBS Engage just launched the YOUR PBS Video Contest. Create a 30-second video to show off what you love most about PBS, and you could win a trip to Austin, TX, and have your video air on PBS. For more information go to, or check out the video below!

Twitter hashtag: #videocontestpbs

News literacy ' Essay wins a scholarship

Feb. 18, 2010, 5:24 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Stony Brook's News Literacy essay competition found its winner for the fall semester. Sergey Moyseyenko, a business student who supports himself as an oil painter, won a semester tuition.

The Roslyn Savings Foundation News Literacy Scholarship is opened to all News Literacy students.

Students who receive an 'A' in the essay portion of their final exam are entered into the competition.

Moyseyenko's essay was judged the most persuasive and elegantly written summarization of the lessons learned in the news literacy course.

The essay, titled 'A Letter to Uncle Vanya,' used the metaphor of a journey in which Moyseyenko guided his uncle through the steps he needed to take when seeking trustworthy information.

Here is a piece of the essay:

'When lost, ask for directions. Hey, it happens to the best of us. When evaluating a news report we can also get lost. Who should we trust? You know, Uncle, how some people when asked for directions would tell you 'I think it is this way', and others will actually show you on the map where you are and where you need to go? In a news report some people may also say, 'I think that is why it happened', and others will actually provide evidence for what they say. You should always differentiate between sources that assert and sources that are more authoritative and provide reliable and verified information.'

The Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University receives funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

To read the rest of Moyseyenko's essay, visit here.

' Marly Falcon, Knight Foundation contributing blogger

Poverty at heart of critical issues in Charlotte

Feb. 15, 2010, 9:40 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Sitting at the crossroads of two Native American trading paths, Charlotte, N.C., has always been a city of commerce (Bank of America has its headquarters here, as did Wachovia previously).

Skyline of downtown Charlotte. Photo by John Ashley via Flickr.

While Charlotte was growing during the boom times of the last decade, poverty was less visible. Today, it's not only more visible, it's at the heart of two critical issues facing the city: educating our children and providing affordable housing for our residents. Like most of the country, Charlotte has seen unemployment rates rise over the past few years and more than 15.8% of Charlotte's nearly one million residents are currently living in poverty. In May 2009, a study found 2,989 homeless children enrolled in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system.

Susan Patterson, program director for Charlotte, says Knight has begun investing in projects to address these critical issues.

The Urban Ministry Center's Moore Place project will provide permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless men and women. It's one piece of a continuum of services needed to reduce the number of people in over-crowded shelters in the community.

Knight's investment in Citizen Schools is supporting public education by extending the learning day with citizen teachers. The middle school students learn new skills, and the volunteers learn more about the needs and desires of public school students.

Patterson is hopeful that momentum is growing to address these critical issues and credits the city's new mayor, Anthony Foxx, for making them part of his agenda.

McDonald's Promotes 2008 Knight News Challenge Winner for 14 Days Throughout Russia

Feb. 12, 2010, 11:09 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

SochiReporter, a 2008 Knight News Challenge winner, was presented in 240 McDonald's restaurants throughout Russia.

The fast-food chain placed hundreds of thousands of leaflets on every food tray of every patron over the course of 14 days.

The leaflets, which included SochiReporter's logo and URL, informed customers of SochiReporter's support of McDonald's World Children's Day, and also thanked its other media partners.

The partnership brought 35 percent more visitors to and 30 percent more content uploads by citizen journalists.

SochiReporter launched in October 2009, allowing the people of Sochi, the Russian resort city hosting the 2014 Olympics, to use the latest online tools to discuss and influence the impact of the Games.

--Marly Falcon, contributing blogger of Knight Foundation

FCC's role in the future of media

Feb. 9, 2010, 4:16 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Steven Waldman, senior advisor to FCC Chariman Julius Genachowski, talked with Broadcasting & Cable's John Eggerton last week about his view on the future of media and the government's role in it.

Waldman is charged with creating a report on the current state of the media and the information needs of communities.' The report will include recommendations for FCC and government policies.

Steven Waldman Journalism is one part of it, but it is broader than that. We have been using the phrase "information needs of communities," which is borrowed from the Knight Commission [which produced a report on the future of journalism]. The reason we did that is because when you are looking at the future of media now, you need to look not only at traditional journalistic enterprises, but things like whether the government is providing information in ways that make it easier for journalists doing accountability journalism or make it easier for citizens to hold institutions accountable. That is why we are using lingo that is a little bit broader than just local news.

Waldman is quick to point out that the FCC will not be offering a bailout for either traditional or new media, but that it has a responsibility to figure out what the government should do to preserve the public-service and democratic functions that the media provides.

You can read the entire Broadcast & Cable interview here. The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy report is available at

The FCC has launched a website for The Future of Media and the Information Needs of Communities in a Digital Age at Americans are encouraged to offer their comments and opinions on the site.

New America Media goes polling ' in six languages

Feb. 9, 2010, 9:30 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Annette Fuentes is Managing Editor at New American Media, New America Media a news service in collaboration with over 2,000 ethnic and immigrant news media organizations and is partially funded by the Knight Foundation.

In a historic first, New America Media (NAM) has partnered with The Field Poll, a nonpartisan, media-sponsored public opinion news service, to produce the first-ever voter survey in English and five other languages.

The survey focuses on voter opinions on California and the national economy; the Schwarzenegger and Obama administrations; and their views on race relations in California, whose population is now majority Latino, Asian and African American.

Reaching those diverse groups, especially Asian Americans, demanded a new, multilingual approach to polling. So after many years of discussion, NAM Executive Director Sandy Close and The Field Poll vice president Mark DiCamillo launched the ground-breaking voter survey, which polled voters in Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Spanish and English. They both anticipate this will be the first of many multilingual polls to come.

'By conducting additional interviews among [California's] ethnic voters in many of our 2010 statewide surveys, The Field Poll hopes to provide policy makers and the public with a more complete picture of the state's changing electorate," DiCamillo said.

NAM Executive Director Sandy Close agreed: 'In a state where 40 percent of residents speak languages other than English, public opinion isn't measurable or truly "public" unless you poll in languages other than English.'

NAM has commissioned multilingual polls since 2002, including another historic first ' a poll of immigrant women from Latin America (including Haiti), Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

On Jan. 27, NAM was back in Miami to release the findings of its most recent poll of Haitian Americans in the wake of the tragic earthquake that devastated their homeland. That poll, conducted by Bendixen Associates, interviewed 400 respondents in English or in Creole, depending on their language of preference. Its findings, including the fact that a large majority of Haitian Americans distrust the government of Pres. Rene Preval, prompted the Haitian president to respond to the allegations.

You can read more about NAM's polls at

Internews saves lives in Haiti

Feb. 8, 2010, 10:01 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

With many of Haiti's news outlets out of commission, the international media organization Internews is stepping in to produce daily broadcasts that provide vital information for earthquake survivors. The News You Can Use segment is airing on 25 local radio stations in Haiti.

"We are supplying information because information saves lives," says Yves Colon, a Haitian journalist and Internews team member. sheds light on the work that Internews is doing in Haiti:

To help spread Haitians who no longer had access to radios, Internews distributed 9,000 wind-up radios in January.

Shortly after the earthquake, the Knight Foundation provided $200,000 to help Internews get up and running in Haiti.

Community Information Challenge open through March 8

Feb. 1, 2010, 11:59 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

We are now accepting applications from community and place-based foundations for the Knight Community Information Challenge (KCIC), which funds news and information projects. The deadline to apply is March 8. Applications can be submitted at

So far, the Challenge has awarded $7.3 million for 45 ideas in communities large and small. The projects include funding public interest online news sites; creating online hubs to engage communities around specific issues and examining a region's changing media landscape in order to help fill the voids, among many others. Click here to read about past KCIC winners.

Live chats will take place at noon EDT Feb. 16 and 22 at to help answer questions about the challenge. Visit the site sign up for a reminder.

To help educate leaders of community and place-based foundations about media trends and information needs, Knight will host the third Media Learning Seminar March 1 and 2 in Miami. To find out more about the seminar and to register, click here.