Knight Blog

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

Black Male Engagement celebrated in Philadelphia

Oct. 31, 2011, 10:36 a.m., Posted by Donna Frisby-Greenwood


“Now I finally get it. I got it now.”  -- Darryl Coates

“I go to court to seek justice for my daughter and this energized me to continue the fight for her, her children, and against domestic violence.”  -- William Spratley

“This is fantastic.  This is really nice.  Thank you.” – Brandon Jones

“Yall really made us feel special.  This is awesome Ms. Greenwood.”  -- Tyrone Werts

“Congratulations Donna. The program last night was inspiring, educational, and very catalytic.”  --Kenny Holdsman

“I didn’t graduate from high school, I just got a GED.  But today I see my name in lights and got a yearbook with my name in it.”

Those are just a few of the things that I remember men saying to me last week throughout the Philadelphia BME Celebration at The Franklin Institute.  The celebration highlighted the more than 1,000 black men and boys who shared their stories of leadership as part of the BME Challenge.

11th hour move saves the Oakland Tribune

Oct. 30, 2011, midnight, Posted by Eric Newton


As I blogged, the nation's second-largest newspaper group, MediaNews, was set on Nov. 2 to kill the Tribune.

I didn't get it. MediaNews got big through "clustering"

  1. Buy papers next to each other;
  2. Retain their names and flavor; 
  3. Merge 'em liked crazy behind the scenes. 

Yet the company suddenly said it wanted to merge all its titles into two regional names. Like Frankenstein, the pieces of the Oakland Tribune would be sewn up with others into something called the East Bay Tribune.  The citizens of Oakland didn't buy it. They want their own newspaper. As long as newspapers are still around, a thin paper that's yours is better than a fat paper that's someone else's. So they complained.

To have hope, traditional newspapers need to create cultures of continous change. They need to embrace journalism in all forms and technologies. They need to engage their communities, to quickly admit mistakes and change course. I hope these are the trends behind the change of heart that in the 11th hour saved the 137-year-old Oakland Tribune.

At that moment, the management of MediaNews changed. Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund that has been gobbling up newspapers in recent years, took control of the Journal Register Co. A new company, Digital First Media, was formed to manage both the Journal Register and MediaNews (Alden owns a reported 40 percent of MediaNews.) Digital First's new CEO, John Paton, thinks newspapers can transform into their digital age selves, but only if they are strong in local news.

Next thing you know, backers of the old plan are announcing a new one -- as of last Thursday, The Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times and other papers will retain their names. Executives said they had received "feedback" from the community on the plan and a "request" from new CEO Paton to review it.

What's hopeful about all this is that the newly saved Trib will open two community media laboratories in Oakland. Those will be run by former Tribune editor Martin Reynolds in his new job with the Bay Area News Group as senior editor for community engagement. Reynolds brought national notice back to the Trib by countering staff reductions with creative citizen journalism and collaborative journalism projects. Reynolds calls the media labs "open newsrooms," offering wifi, blogging stations, community meetings, classes, open editorial meetings. The Trib also plans to expand its network of bloggers, perhaps partnering with newcomers like Oakland Local.



Knight's 2011 Election Meeting: Storifyed

Oct. 28, 2011, 5:19 p.m., Posted by Elise Hu

Today, Knight Foundation is gathering a group of media thought leaders for a discussion about new ways for people to participate in elections through digital tools and content. Follow the conversation via #knightelect.

The creator of the contexual social media storytelling tool, Storify, took part in today's Knight Elections summit, so we thought it would be fitting to use Storify to capture our day. 

Cheezburger’s Ben Huh on improving political coverage in today’s polarized climate

Oct. 28, 2011, 2:48 p.m., Posted by Elise Hu

Today, Knight Foundation is gathering a group of media thought leaders for a discussion about new ways for people to participate in elections through digital tools and content. Follow the conversation via #knightelect.

The man behind LOL Cats, FAILBlog and probably a few Internet memes you haven’t even heard of yet knows a thing or two about building strong online communities. And he says today’s political media are falling short when it comes to engaging voters.

Let’s get it right with real names in 2012

Oct. 28, 2011, 11:18 a.m., Posted by Eric Newton

Today, Knight Foundation is gathering a group of media thought leaders for a discussion about new ways for people to participate in elections through digital tools and content. Follow the conversation via #knightelect.

Traditional news media have made a destructive mistake by encouraging anonymous commenting on their web sites. But it’s not too late to simply do away with this bad idea. The upcoming 2012 election – likely to be the greatest digital political event in American history – offers the perfect opportunity to get journalism’s house in order.

This morning at a Knight Foundation brainstorming session, I was talking about this with Steven Clift, founder of His long experience with political debate has led him to two simple rules: real names, no name calling.

Do media leaders really want the 2012 election to go down in history as the nastiest, most negative and least factual ever? Anonymous commenting in civic forums encourages our worst instincts. It weakens all fact-based brands. And allowing it is just unethical. Professional journalists only allow sources to be anonymous when there is no other way to get important information. That same ethic should apply to web comments. Only leakers should be anonymous. Let’s update the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics to deal with digital engagement. (It hasn’t been updated since 1996).

Jamieson: Biggest threat to elections is the microtargeting of deceptive ads

Oct. 28, 2011, 10:54 a.m., Posted by Elise Hu

Today, Knight Foundation is gathering a group of media thought leaders for a discussion about new ways for people to participate in elections through digital tools and content. Follow the conversation via #knightelect.

To kick off Knight’s summit on rethinking election coverage, the head of, Annenberg Public Policy Center’s Kathleen Hall Jamieson, sounded a warning: “We are Tom Cruise,” she said. Let me explain.

In a memorable scene from the Tom Cruise film, Minority Report, everywhere Cruise’s character walks, personalized ads move with him, call out his name, and sell products to him as he makes his way down a mall walkway.


How journalists, technologists and thinkers are rethinking campaign coverage

Oct. 28, 2011, 8:58 a.m., Posted by Elise Hu

Today, Knight Foundation is gathering a group of media thought leaders for a discussion about new ways for people to participate in elections through digital tools and content. Follow the conversation via #knightelect.

Just as technology and social media are getting credit for aiding democratic movements across the Mideast, millions of Americans remain disengaged in the civic issues that touch their lives. For the voters who are paying attention, the polarization that dominates American politics has eroded trust in media organizations, leading to questions about how truly informed the public is in today’s stratified media landscape. So this week, Knight Foundation has called together technologists, academics and journalists to briefly stop, collaborate and listen (as Vanilla Ice would say).

Waldman: The FCC's important step forward on media disclosure

Oct. 27, 2011, 3:02 p.m., Posted by Steven Waldman

Earlier this month, Knight Foundation announced several new efforts to help ensure that important public policy recommendations in the FCC's Information Needs report become fully realized. Included was the appointment of Steven Waldman, the report's lead author, as a senior media policy scholar at Columbia University.

Today, Waldman writes about other exciting developments regarding the report.

Steven Waldman: The FCC today took two important steps on the recommendations in our Information Needs of Community report.  First, it approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – its way of making an official regulatory proposal – to take the current “public inspection file” online.  The public file is full of material broadcasters are required to disclose as part of their public interest obligations to communities. But it is on paper, sitting in a filing cabinet, where the public can only “inspect” it by going to the station offices. Almost no one does. Suffice it to say, in an Internet era this makes no sense.

Graham Richard: Citizens must be able to engage with their local government online

Oct. 27, 2011, 11:27 a.m., Posted by Robertson Adams

Graham Richard, President, Graham Richard Assoc. LLC and former mayor, Fort Wayne, Ind.

This interview is part of the Digital Revolution and Democracy series, which offers idea-inspiring interviews with thought leaders who are shaping the future of media and democracy. More at

Innovative use of the Internet can help local governments provide quick, agile, smart services – and not just to a limited part of the population, says former Fort Wayne Mayor Graham Richard. He spoke with Knight Foundation Vice President Dennis Scholl about opportunities for using technology to better serve communities while attending the Aspen Institute Forum on Communications and Society (FOCAS).

Richard says citizens are used to going online and getting customer service from institutions, and as a result local governments must become more responsive. He thinks citizens today are more able to fully engage with the local government officials, and demand change by using the power of social media.

Female journalists honored for exemplifying courage in news reporting

Oct. 27, 2011, 11:17 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Adela Navarro Bello, Parisa Hafezi, Chiranuch Premchaiporn, Kate Adie. Photo by Vince Bucci/PictureGroup

A luncheon today in New York City is honoring women journalists who have faced danger reporting the news.

For showing dedication to covering violence, corruption and social unrest in their countries, Adela Navarro Bello of Mexico, Parisa Hafezi of Iran and Chiranuch Premchaiporn each recently received a 2011 Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation.

Project inviting residents to explore core values and beliefs launches

Oct. 26, 2011, 8:38 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan

This Tallahassee Believes, a project that invites residents to explore the core values and beliefs that shape their lives, is now being featured by This I Believe International.

The Tallahassee project was just launched by the Village Square, a Knight Community Information Challenge winner supported by the Community Foundation of North Florida.

Four questions foundations might ask journalism start ups when they ask for grants

Oct. 25, 2011, 11:37 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan

"Women in Prison" video from nonprofit new site Oklahoma Watch 

Foundations are playing a significant and helpful role in fostering new models for local news. But in addition to money, a little tough love may be in order when looking at prospective journalism grantees. If the grant money doesn’t flow forever, how can a foundation tell if a news organization has legs - or how can foundation help nudge the organization onto a more sustainable path? Here are four key issues to consider:

Here are a few questions to ask before cutting a check.

Journalism and philanthropy sites cover release of new report on nonprofit news and sustainability

Oct. 25, 2011, 8:53 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Last week, Knight Foundation released a new report offering a detailed look at some of the country’s leading online local nonprofit news ventures.


Full Report: "Getting Local: How Nonprofit News Ventures Seek Sustainability"

News Release: "New report: Nonprofit news sites – and their search for sustainability"

Several media organizations who covered the report emphasized authors’ Mayur Patel and Michele McLellan’s  finding that nonprofit news sites have to act more like digital businesses, making revenue experimentation, entrepreneurship and community engagement important pieces of the mix.

Broadcasting and Cable wrote about the report’s implications for long-term sustainability for online nonprofit news sites:

“While the sites are likely to start with funding from foundations, the study says they need to treat that as equity rather than an ongoing revenue stream and look to supplement that with memberships, advertising, sponsorships and events, just as the for-profit sector does.”

Columbia Journalism Review focused on the importance of community engagement for local nonprofit news sites:

@jczamora wins worldwide photography gala award

Oct. 24, 2011, 2:43 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Knight Foundation Journalism Program Associate Jose Zamora recently won a Worldwide Photography Gala Award for the following image:


Zamora’s photo of graffiti in the Wynwood Art District of Miami won 1st prize in the September Pollux Awards category of non professional single image for Environmental Issues.

International Center for Journalists’ new website details impact of projects around the globe

Oct. 24, 2011, 1:30 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

The International Center for Journalists recently launched its new website with more content now available. The new homepage provides updates on “Latest Developments” and “Featured Programs,” which highlights recent activities of the center’s work.

“We are now of the mindset that you must be constantly refreshing your website in order to communicate better information,” said Joyce Barnathan, president of International Center For Journalists. “One of the things we wanted to do was show the impact of the center and now we can in ‘our impact’ section.”

Getting Local II: Terms of engagement

Oct. 24, 2011, 11:37 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan

The newspaper on the Web is not a sustainable model, and nonprofit news start ups are placing more and more emphasis on engaging their users with content and conversation, and perhaps, as members or donors. A new report from the Knight Foundation details emerging engagement practices at several of the larger nonprofit news sites.

Along with trying to create to revenue streams, larger nonprofit news sites are experimenting with engagement as well.

A new report, “Getting Local: How Nonprofit News Ventures Seek Sustainability,” explores the role that userengagement plays in their sustainability strategies.

Public forum for school board candidates engages Charlotte community

Oct. 21, 2011, 3:41 p.m., Posted by Susan Patterson

Charlotte got a taste of a new kind of candidate forum this week and it went down well.

Mecklenburg Citizens for Public Education is a nonprofit organization that provides information and opportunities for the community to learn about and get engaged with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Tuesday night, it hosted, along with WFAE public radio, a public forum for 12 at-large school board candidates with an important interactive twist. For one thing, it was live-streamed, with an audience of about 50 outside the auditorium. Those inside the hall and elsewhere got to vote on the topics to be addressed by the candidates, and those at home could submit questions to be asked since they couldn't walk up to a microphone.

Effort to crowdsource radiation information in Japan to expand

Oct. 21, 2011, 2:56 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Safecast Talk by Joi Ito at MIT Media Lab autumn event from Safecast Japan on Vimeo.

Following Japan’s earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 and the subsequent Fukushima Daiichi power plant meltdown, information about the affected areas and levels of nuclear contamination has been difficult to find.

Today, Knight Foundation announced that citizen scientists and researchers would receive an increased supply of sensors and measurement devices in an effort to increase crowdsourced information about radiation levels. With the new funding, Safecast will also revamp the software used to process and store the data collected.

Daniel Weitzner: “We’ve seen how critical the Internet and mobile networks are for people to realize the goals they have”

Oct. 21, 2011, 10:57 a.m., Posted by Robertson Adams

Daniel Weitzner, Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Internet Policy, The White House

This post is one in the series, "The Digital Revolution & Democracy."

On President Obama's first day in office, he promised that "transparency and rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency." Keeping up with the demand for this transparency is an immense task, and Deputy Chief Technology Officer Danny Weitzner is the person in the breech.   

A festive call to action: BME enters phase two in Detroit

Oct. 21, 2011, 9:54 a.m., Posted by Rishi Jaitly

Wedding anniversaries and work events aren’t supposed to mix, right? Well, think again.

This past Tuesday evening, on our third wedding anniversary, my wife Anuja and I happily joined hundreds of other Detroiters at Ford Field to celebrate the inaugural class of BME.

BME (pronounced “Be Me”) is a city-wide initiative we at Knight Foundation launched over the summer to celebrate, connect, and invest in black males who lead our city in big and small ways. Since August 1st, more than 1,000 black men and teenagers stepped up and shared stories of how they strengthen the community.

New partnership brings opportunity to redevelop Akron community

Oct. 21, 2011, 8:14 a.m., Posted by Jennifer Thomas

Marvin J. Suomi from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

Exciting news for Northeast Ohio: the University Park Alliance is partnering with international real estate firm KUD to help redevelop the area surrounding the University of Akron.

The firm will work on financial and other resource issues to help developers secure financing and reduce risk.

New journalism project has major successes in first week

Oct. 20, 2011, 3:03 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Photo Credit: Sasha Chavkin/The New York World

A new journalism site devoted to deepening public understanding of the ways city and state government shape life in New York City launched this week at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

In its first week, The New York World broke a story about a city-chartered Brooklyn bus that segregates its passengers by gender. The story was picked up by several major media outlets including The New York Times, NY Magazine, NY Post and Gawker. Following the story, the New York City Commission on Human Rights said it would look into the issue of the alleged discrimination on the line.

Funder's guide offers understanding of how to harness the power of networks

Oct. 20, 2011, 11:12 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller new guide examines why funders need to understand networks and explores what it takes for grantmakers to create a network mindset.

The guide, “Catalyzing Networks for Social Change,” was released this week by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and Monitor Institute.

The guide offers five approaches that may help grantmakers and social change makers use the power of networks, including: weaving social ties, assessing new and diverse topics, openly building and sharing knowledge, creating infrastructure for widespread engagement and coordinating resources and action.

Collaborative approach results in successes for driving Northeast Ohio’s knowledge-based economy

Oct. 20, 2011, 9:07 a.m., Posted by Juan J. Martinez

Dr. Frank Douglas, President and CEO of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron

Juan Martinez, Vice President/CFO at Knight Foundation:

A little over three years ago, Akron leaders visited Knight Foundation, proposing a new, collaborative approach to jumpstart Northeast Ohio’s knowledge-based economy.

We helped bring a cross-section of the community’s leadership together for strategic planning. From there emerged the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, a collaboration of five major clinical and academic institutions focused on making the region a leader in the use of polymer technology for patient-centered health care solutions.

Today, the institute is a great example of community leaders creating and implementing a shared vision.

New Knight Foundation trustee wins humanitarian award in Akron

Oct. 19, 2011, 11:47 a.m., Posted by Jennifer Thomas

Today, Knight Foundation is excited to announce that William H. Considine, president and CEO of Akron's Children's Hospital is joining the board of trustees. Considine was honored last night, as Akron Program Director Jennifer Thomas writes:

New Knight Foundation trustee Bill Considine, president and CEO of Akron Children's Hospital, received the Polsky Humanitarian Award on Tuesday night in Akron. The award was established in 1969 to honor the late Bert A. Polsky, president of the former Polsky department stores and a founding trustee of Akron Community Foundation.


ProPublica shares lessons on the path to sustainability

Oct. 19, 2011, 9:46 a.m., Posted by Benoit Wirz

Yesterday, Knight Foundation released a new report, offering a detailed look at some of the country’s leading online local nonprofit news ventures.

Today, the foundation shares what the nationally focused news nonprofit, ProPublica, is learning on its path to sustainability.

Ben Wirz, director/business consulting at Knight Foundation:

Foundation funding will never be able to plug the hole in editorial budgets being cut at for-profit daily newspapers – a total of $6.4 billion between 2006 and 2009, according to the FCC report "Information Needs of Communities".

Nor should it. The most successful nonprofit news organizations have diversified revenue sources.

To help nonprofit media outlets better supplement coverage – and get on the path to sustainability – we’re sharing a new report with some lessons learned from one of the country’s premier organizations, ProPublica.

Knight Arts earns a regional Emmy nod

Oct. 18, 2011, 3:36 p.m., Posted by Valerie Nahmad Schimel

Knight Foundation is celebrating a Suncoast Emmy nomination for its “Ideas in Motion” short program. The 30-minute documentary follows five Knight Arts Challenge winners on their journeys to realize their artistic visions.

Nonprofit news sites need to act more like digital businesses

Oct. 18, 2011, 12:27 a.m., Posted by Mayur Patel and Michele McLellan

By Mayur Patel and Michele McLellan:

In the emerging landscape of non-profit news, good journalism is not enough. Even with generous foundation support, high-quality reporting alone will not create an organization that can sustain its ability to produce news in the public interest. 

Instead, successful news organizations – even the nonprofit ones  - have to act like digital businesses, making revenue experimentation, entrepreneurship and community engagement important pieces of the mix. Understanding how to create social and economic value and how to adapt and innovate are just as important as good content.

The new study we just completed, “Getting Local,” offers a detailed look at some of the country’s leading online local nonprofit news ventures, providing data on how they are generating revenue, engaging users and cultivating donors.

How funders can better evaluate place-based initiatives

Oct. 17, 2011, 10:22 a.m., Posted by Jonathan Sotsky


Jon Sotsky, Strategic Assessment Officer and Jeff Coates, National Program Associate:

We and our funder colleagues make several grants in specific communities each year, but often struggle to understand the cumulative impact of these investments in the community. So Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, known as GEO, recently formed a group of private funders and federal agencies to generate new ideas for evaluating the overall community impact in places where we fund multiple programs.

At a recent gathering in Washington D.C., the group entertained several interesting conversations about evaluating place-based philanthropy. The biggest takeaways pertained to the following questions:

Steven Clift: When you roll up your sleeves, you can shape democracy

Oct. 14, 2011, 1:44 p.m., Posted by Robertson Adams

Steven Clift, Founder and Executive Director,

This post is part of "The Digital Revolution and Democracy" series. For more information on the series, read "Digital Democracy: A More Perfect Union".

What technology is used to influence the media, the public and democracy? What tools will people use to defend against propaganda and find content that can help them navigate and manage their community? And will people be powerless against high-tech manipulation?

"You have to realize that when you roll up your sleeves, you can shape democracy," says Steven Clift, founder and executive director of and an online strategist focused on the use of the Internet in democracy, governance and community.

"It isn’t just about using the technologies neutrally, though, you have to use them with intent," he says. "People can have a voice, people can solve problems. Governments can provide more information. But unless people bring their democratic intent to it, it doesn’t measure up."

Knight Foundation's interview with Clift is the first of 17 to be published on KnightBlog as part of "The Digital Revolution and Democracy," a series of idea-inspiring videos that examine the ever-evolving trends transforming our lives. From the Arab Spring to the Digital Divide, from the promise to the peril of these new tools, we talk with thought leaders who are shaping the future of media and democracy. Follow along as foundation Vice President Dennis Scholl interviews 17 leaders who believe passionately in self-government -- but have different visions of how it will evolve.

Students teach digital and media literacy skills to Charlotte residents

Oct. 14, 2011, 12:52 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Last year, Knight Foundation funded the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, in order to  develop programs to teach digital and media literacy to its students and the community, a priority of Knight's journalism and media innovation program.

We recently blogged about the ways in which the school's students have started teaching digital and media literacy to Greater Charlotte.

The following post, written by Van King, dean of the school, and Dr. John A. McArthur, assistant professor, details a recent workshop where students shared what they're learning about digital life with residents of Myers Park, a nearby neighborhood.

King and McArthur:

Raahil Djhruva reached out gently across the generational divide and helped a community member learn how to use Skype so he could communicate with his daughter. Dhruva, a junior at Queens University of Charlotte from London, England, called the experience “an emotional moment.” His was one story of many.

Along with a team of students in the James L. Knight School of Communication, Dhruva volunteered to teach digital and media literacy skills to residents of Myers Park, the university’s neighborhood. Through a new partnership with Myers Park Home Owners Association, the school offered a digital and media literacy session entitled "My Digital Life: Social media meets personal privacy" on Oct. 12.

The school’s Knight-Crane Convergence Laboratory was filled with curious residents, eager to learn and to share their questions and worries about the Digital Age. Dr. John A. McArthur, an assistant professor in the school, led a discussion about social media and privacy, providing the context of Marshall McLuhan’s predictions come true and citizens’ growing need to keep up with rapid change. After the discussion, communication students and attendees met shoulder to shoulder at the computers.


How News21 prepares the next generation of investigative journalists

Oct. 14, 2011, 9:25 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

News21 student journalist Tarryn Mento

See related article in Nieman Journalism Lab by Eric Newton, Senior Adviser to the President:
'Journalism schools can be leaders in innovation and the news'

The current listeriosis outbreak linked to tainted cantaloupe is the worst foodborne illness outbreak since 1998 - linked to 21 deaths in 11 states and an additional 109 infections in 24 states, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found.

Although the current listeriosis outbreak began in July, the issue of bacteria and food safety is an ongoing problem. 

Tarryn Mento and Brandon Quester, National Project Fellows at the News21 program at Arizona State University, spent several months researching the implications of food safety and traveled to Guatemala to investigate the site of a farm allegedly at the center of an earlier cantaloupe outbreak that caused 20 people to fall ill, including three who ate salmonella-tainted melons at an Oregon church dinner in February.

Their efforts resulted in the article “Salmonella Outbreak Traced to Cantaloupes in Guatemala.” The piece raises significant questions about how foodborne illness and outbreaks are investigated in the U.S. - and the steps authorities may or may not be taking to prevent them from occurring. 

News21’s research has informed the mainstream media’s coverage of food safety over the past several weeks, with and the Washington Post publishing News21's reporting

Mento and Quester recently answered questions about their experience researching the cantaloupe outbreak and the larger context of how News21 is preparing the next generation of investigative journalists.

Q: Each year, students in the News21 program study a topic in-depth during a spring seminar and follow it up with a 10-week reporting fellowship during the summer. This year, the topic was food safety. What was the overall process of investigating food safety like?

B.Q: What we found in doing our research is that there is a massive influx of foreign food being imported into the U.S., which unfortunately is being inspected at a rate of less than two percent. The News21 program allowed us to document that story and frame the context of where your food is coming from and how safe it is.  As we progressed throughout late summer and early fall, we realized that we had in-depth reporting that nobody else in the country had; that elevated our ability to tell the story.

T.M: Beyond investigating the issue of food safety, the project really allowed us to gain a full understanding, from the beginning to end, as to how the investigation process works for journalists. For example, the information we gained over the phone prior to our trip to Guatemela was not as in-depth as being able to be down there and actually talking to people. The trip itself was hugely beneficial in that way. It also showed that we were taking the story seriously as journalists.

Q: As your project on food safety and the cantaloupe outbreak developed, what did you find most surprising?

B.Q: What surprised me was how the overall system of food safety works. In the beginning, it didn’t appear too problematic, but all it took was a little bit of good reporting to find what turned out to be a great story. Through our research, we were able to point to broader implications in food safety, including the struggle of the Food and Drug Administration to regulate imported food.

T.M: As the investigation progressed, I was simply shocked at the amount of steps it takes to get food from a farm in Guatemala to a household in the U.S.  The exchange of hands that food goes through to get from one place to another is incredibly more complicated than anything I had ever imagined.

Webstream of Community Arts Journalism Challenge finalists

Oct. 13, 2011, 11:55 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

On Monday, Knight Foundation announced the five finalists in the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge, a program founded this summer to find new ways to use technology to inform and engage people in the arts. 

The five finalist projects emerged from 233 applications submitted from eight pilot communities where Knight Foundation currently invests.

During the announcement each of the five finalists described how their projects inject innovation into arts journalism in their communities.

The announcement of the finalists took place at the Grantmakers in the Arts conference in San Francisco.

New private and nonprofit partnership seeks to promote broadband adoption

Oct. 13, 2011, 10:31 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Yesterday, leading businesses including Best Buy and Microsoft, and national philanthropies like the National League of Cities and Goodwill, came together in partnership with the FCC and Knight to launch Connect to Compete. This new nonprofit will help expand digital literacy training and make the Internet accessible and relevant to more Americans.

There is “no silver bullet, no single solution,” to helping the 100 million Americans who haven’t yet adopted broadband in their homes, Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said in his remarks.

And so Connect to Compete, a unique, public-private partnership housed at One Economy and lead by its CEO Kelley Dunne, will provide a range of ways to offer basic and advanced digital literacy training and prepare more Americans for 21st century jobs.


A sky full of lanterns

Oct. 12, 2011, 1:32 p.m., Posted by Jennifer Thomas

The Light UP Lantern Festival over the weekend in Akron, Ohio was a quirky triumph that got everything right. 

The University Park Alliance is the festival's "Presenting sponsor", Leandra Drumm developed, created, and organized the event. Daniel Coffield is one of its Art directors and a significant part of the event as well. Don Drumm Studios and Gallery is a sponsor of the event and hosts a show at their gallery in conjunction with the event.

The festival featured local crafts, foods and unusual musical acts, including a raucous acousting trio, "Hey Mavis" and an excellent local coffee roaster whose shop is part of the Bomb Shelter, a new "Superstore of old stuff" in Akron.

These are just the sort of things that give a special place-specific charm to Akron!

FCC, Knight and other philanthropic and business leaders launch national effort to ensure greater Internet adoption for more Americans

Oct. 12, 2011, 9:26 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation


By Paula Ellis, VP/Strategic Initiatives

The Internet is no longer a luxury item. It’s an essential tool for all Americans, whether they are looking for jobs, better educational opportunities or quality health care.

Yet still, one-third of all Americans— 100 million people – have not adopted broadband high-speed Internet at home, the Pew Research Center has found. Simply put, they, and their families, are being left behind.

That's why today, the Federal Communications Commission in partnership with Knight and other nonprofit and business leaders, is launching Connect to Compete, which will make the Internet accessible and relevant to more Americans by reducing service costs, expanding digital literacy training and making the Internet more relevant to people's lives.

Achieving wide-scale adoption requires that the Internet be useful. That’s why this effort also focuses on developing relevant, practical ways to use the Internet for daily living. For example, a mom might use it to help her child with his homework, or her husband search or train for a job.

Knight will help guide the effort by participating on the Connect to Compete advisory council, and by providing funding for a planning grant to One Economy to create this public-private partnership. The foundation’s support is a continuation of its commitment to universal access. Since 2005, the foundation has invested more than $18 million, first in broadband infrastructure in several communities including Akron, Philadelphia, Detroit and Miami and more recently in digital literacy and adoption.


Would nutrition labels work for news?

Oct. 11, 2011, 9:51 a.m., Posted by Eric Newton

Matt Stempeck, research assistant at the MIT Center for Civic Media, recently asked the question: “What If We Had a Nutrition Label For News”?

His call for feedback prompted a response from Eric Newton, senior advisor to the president at Knight Foundation, who equates the fundamental nutritional elements of food directly to their counterparts in news.

Newton wrote:

Congratulations for taking on this fantastic topic. Anyone who can break down and communicate the nutritional value of news will be an American hero.

As you note, the idea of a food label for news has been kicking around for a long time. I first started talking about it nearly 15 years ago with some other folks at the Newseum in various programs we had in the broadcast studios there. I got some bits on the record five years ago in the book Mega Media, and most recently I wrote “Junk-food news turning us into fat-heads” in the Miami Herald.

We've known for ages that words are food for the mind. The devil is in the details. Every previous effort I've seen has failed to properly unwind the metaphor. Listing the various failures may not be as helpful as talking aspirationally about the real goal.

What we really need is a food label not so much on each news outlet but on each news story. (ie, Marissa Mayer's point at Google about the new unit of organization of news being the story, not the outlet).

Finalists announced in challenge to find new models of local arts coverage and criticism

Oct. 10, 2011, 8:50 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

This summer, 233 ideas for new models of local arts coverage and criticism were submitted as part of the first-ever Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge. The challenge focused on the eight communities where Knight Foundation invests.Today, Knight Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts announced the five finalists who will have the opportunity to create an Idea to Action plan for their idea to inform and engage audiences in the arts.

You can watch the announcement live at 1 p.m. EDT/10 a.m. via a live webcast, straight from the Grantmakers in the Arts conference in San Francisco. Follow @knightfdn on Twitter for updates during the session on Monday and join the conversation using the hashtag #artsjourn.

Several themes run through the finalist’s projects, including partnerships between traditional and new media and ways to foster greater participation from cultural art lovers.

This Monday, find out the finalists in the community arts journalism challenge

Oct. 7, 2011, 8:49 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

This Monday, tune in for the announcement of the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge finalists from 1:00-2:30 pm EST.

Viewers can watch the announcement online via a live webcast, as well as the following discussion with the five winners.

Joan Shigekawa, senior deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and Dennis Scholl, vice president/arts at Knight Foundation, will announce the five finalists and the six Honorable Mentions at the Grantmakers in the Arts annual conference in San Francisco, Calif.

The five finalists will receive grants of up to $20,000 to develop their ideas into action plans. In addition, the finalists will be eligible for up to $80,000 to implement their projects.

Over 233 individuals and organizations submitted their solutions to informing and engaging audiences through local arts journalism. The challenge focused on the eight communities where Knight Foundation invests.

Follow @knightfdn on Twitter for updates during the session on Monday and join the conversation using the hashtag #artsjourn.

For more information, visit Videos of the finalists will be available next week.

News21 investigation into tainted seafood in the U.S. informs’s coverage of food safety

Oct. 6, 2011, 3:04 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Organoleptic Specialist Steven Angold inspects seafood at the FDA's $40 million facility in Irvine, Calif. Photo: Kyle Bruggeman/News21

Earlier this week, Knight Foundation blogged about how the student-led News21 program published a major food safety investigation in The Washington Post and on’s coverage continued with a story on how tainted seafood reaches U.S households.

According to the article, an analysis done by News21 showed the U.S. imported more than 17.6 million tons of seafood over the last decade and that only 2 percent of it went through inspection. The investigation was based on import data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This is cause for serious concern because “80 percent of the seafood in America is imported.” Furthermore:

“[A] News21 analysis of FDA import-refusal data reveals an unappetizing portrait. In more than half of cases when seafood is rejected, the fish has been deemed filthy, meaning it was spoiled or contained physical abnormalities, or it was contaminated with a foodborne pathogen. About 20 percent of those cases involved salmonella.”


Rishi Jaitly featured as one of the best and brightest in Michigan

Oct. 6, 2011, 10:57 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Rishi Jaitly, Detroit program director for Knight Foundation, is being featured in Crain’s Detroit Business’  2011 “40 under 40” awards.

Jaitly, who joined Knight Foundation in March, works with local leaders to find and invest in opportunities for fostering an informed and engaged Detroit.

“To call Rishi Jaitly’s résumé diverse is an understatement,” Crains writes.

Before joining Knight Foundation, Jaitly co-founded and led Michigan Corps, a social network for local and global Michiganders committed to advancing education and entrepreneurship in their home state. Michigan Corps, along with ACCION USA and Knight Foundation, were successful in launching Kiva Detroit, the first in-country branch of Kiva, which brings microloans to Detroit small businesses.

Jaitly also spent four years at Google, both as a speechwriter for Eric Schmidt and as a public affairs specialist in India, where he worked on a voter information project and persuaded the Pakistani and Bangladeshi governments to stop blocking various social media platforms.

In the profile, Jaitly says his goal is to see:

“More Detroiters acting, growing and seeing themselves as leaders — and I mean that across issues, across geographies, from big-business leaders to young people.”

Crain’s “40 under 40 awards” were launched 20 years ago, its goal is to honor the best and brightest in Southeast Michigan who have made their marks in business before age 40.

'Place Matters' program a fresh venue to discuss community engagement; tune in this morning

Oct. 6, 2011, 8:37 a.m., Posted by Robertson Adams

Video: Dr. Katherine Loflin worked with leaders from community foundations to find place making opportunities in the results of Knight's Soul of the Community research. Now her radio program will explore similar themes.  

The Knight Soul of the Community project is a groundbreaking study that explores what makes people love where they live, and why it matters. Using primary survey research gathered in 26 U.S. communities by Gallup for Knight from 2008 to 2010, Lead Consultant Dr. Katherine Loflin helped identify a strong correlation between how citizens feel about their local community and economic output of that community.

soul of the community


Katherine Loflin, Ph.D. speaking at the Council on Foundations Fall Conference for Community Foundations. 

Ultimately, if you love your town, prosperity follows, and it even shows up in the GDP for that town.

In the wake of these findings, Knight funded Dr. Loflin to build higher, and take a look at the implications and opportunities for U.S. communities. The result is “Place Matters,” a new weekly radio program focusing on place making and its connection to community engagement.

“The field of placemaking is really booming right now,” Loflin says. “I have a ready and hungry audience from the Soul of the Community work, and people with an avid interest in placemaking work in a variety of sectors all across the country. They are seeking the show out and tuning in the podcast. The show is really a public home for the placemaking conversation by bringing in research, thought leaders from around the country and inspiring stories and ideas from everyday citizens.”

On the first show, her guest was Fred Kent, one of the founders of the placemaking movement. He started his career with Margaret Mead in observing human behavior within city. Today Kent is the president of the Project for Public Spaces, which boasts of training thousands of participants each year in the concepts of placemaking.

The next show – set for today, Oct. 6 at 11 a.m. EDT, will take a look at the implications and opportunities of the Knight Soul of the Community project.

Future shows will showcase successful ideas from everyday citizens in placemaking; profile the innovative placemaking work of a couple of cities; have a mayor or two on who are using placemaking as a foundation of their leadership; and perhaps someone from United Nations Habitat to explain the placemaking push around the world.

If you’re in the Miami area, you can tune in the show Tuesdays on WZAB, 880-AM and everywhere else you can listen live on the Internet or fetch the podcast from iTunes. Katherine says she keeps an open line to listeners during the show through a Facebook page, and follows tweets marked #placematters and #placemaking. Follow her show on Twitter @katherineloflin.

Opera singers perform Random Act of Culture aboard Philadelphia trains

Oct. 5, 2011, 1:21 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Last week, opera singers from The Opera Company of Philadelphia surprised Philadelphia commuters with a performance from the opera Carmen.

Opera singers boarded local trains and performed the aria "Habanera" to surprised commuters on the SEPTA rail lines.

The Philadelphia Inquirer covered the event.


Some 504 Knight-funded Random Acts of Culture have taken place so far in eight communities across the United States.

Dennis Scholl, vice president/arts at Knight Foundation, describes why Knight launched the Random Acts of Culture program:

“We strongly believe in the potential of the arts to engage residents, and bring a community together. Hearing Handel, or seeing the tango in an unexpected place provides a deeply felt reminder of how the classics can enrich our lives. As you’ll see in our videos, the performances make people smile, dance, grab their cameras – even cry with joy. For those brief moments, people going along in their everyday lives are part of a shared, communal experience that makes their community a more vibrant place to live.”

In “Reinventing Journalism”, Robert Rosenthal writes personal account of his career

Oct. 5, 2011, 12:58 p.m., Posted by Eric Newton


This week, the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) is releasing “Reinventing Journalism,” Executive Director Robert Rosenthal’s personal account of joining CIR and launching California Watch, its statewide investigative team.

As he says in the opening paragraph, Robert had no idea what he was getting into when he walked into CIR in 2008. “Reinventing Journalism” is his personal account of finding his way: from working as a copyboy to reporting assignments around the world, to being in the ring for the collapse of the traditional media business model, to seizing the opportunity to create a new kind of journalism organization, to his own evolution from journalist to what he calls “salesman/evangelical entrepreneur.”

Rosenthal also writes about the launch of California Watch – how the distribution and impact of its first stories exceeded his wildest expectations – and addresses the search for sustainability, looking forward to the future of investigative reporting and the non-profit model. 

A free copy of "Reinventing Journalism" can be downloaded to your digital reading device through Project GutenbergIt will be available soon at iTunes and the Google eBookstore.

As part of "Reinventing Journalism", Rosenthal also identified "10 lessons learned" about his time at Center for Investigative Reporting

We hope this report, written at Knight Foundation’s request, will help other nonprofit reporting ventures, and shed light on where the rapidly changing landscape of journalism and investigative reporting might be headed. 

Knight Foundation profiled in new report on philanthropy and social media

Oct. 5, 2011, 9:01 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

A new report “Philanthropy and Social Media” is intended to provide an introduction to social media for philanthropic organizations and individuals interested in the potential of social media for achieving impact.

In the report, released by the Institute for Philanthropy, Knight Foundation is profiled as an active and early investor in social media.
For the foundation’s profile, Mayur Patel, vice president of strategy and assessment at Knight Foundation, explains how the foundation’s investment in social media projects grew out of the its journalism and media innovation program

“We realised that technology was not just disrupting the way people connect 
to information, it was also changing the way communities connect to each other.”

Patel also identifies the foundation’s two goals in funding social media projects. The first is focusing on how the information needs of communities distribute, gather and participate in the creation of information and knowledge. The second is how to invest in projects that facilitate community engagement through technology.

Foundation initiatives such as the Knight News Challenge, the Knight Community Information Challenge and its Technology for Engagement program speak directly to these goals. The foundation also recently blogged about why Knight Foundation uses social media as a strategy to become a better grantmaker.

The paper was produced by the Indigo Trust and authored by Daisy Wakefield and Aphra Sklair with input from Andy Gibson.

The Indigo Trust, The Barr Foundation,, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Omidyar Network and the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts are also profiled.


New exchange program gives Russian and US journalists a chance to sharpen their skills, build mutual understanding

Oct. 4, 2011, 9:11 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Moscow's Red Square, Photo by

Journalists from Russia and the U.S. - countries that were once dire enemies - will be able to participate in a new two-year program designed to give them the opportunity to work in newsrooms and to build mutual understanding.

At the beginning of the exchange, Russian journalists will spend several days meeting officials and media leaders in Washington, D.C, while their U.S. counterparts will do the same in Moscow. They will then work at media organizations for up to a month.

Knight Foundation is funding the program through a grant to the International Center for Journalists, which will coordinate the selection of suitable U.S. news organizations for the Russian journalists, and the Moscow Union of Journalists will find hosts for the Americans. The Moscow Union will plan the program and cover the costs for participants in Russia.Journalists from Russia and the U.S. - countries that were once dire enemies - will be able to participate in a new two-year program designed to give them the opportunity to work in newsrooms and to build mutual understanding.

At the beginning of the exchange, Russian journalists will spend several days meeting officials and media leaders in Washington, D.C, while their U.S. counterparts will do the same in Moscow. They will then work at media organizations for up to a month.

Knight Foundation is funding the program through a grant to the International Center for Journalists, which will coordinate the selection of suitable U.S. news organizations for the Russian journalists, and the Moscow Union of Journalists will find hosts for the Americans. The Moscow Union will plan the program and cover the costs for participants in Russia.

Dawn L. McCall, Coordinator at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs, says:

“The exchange provides opportunities for U.S. and Russian journalists to share experiences and strengthen their journalistic practices, which benefits both our countries.”

The first 24 participants will be selected in February 2012 and the first exchange will take place in April 2012.

BME Campaign receives over 2,000 entries from black males telling stories about how they inspire their community

Oct. 3, 2011, 4:22 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

The BME Challenge, which highlights the stories of black men and boys leading others in Philadelphia and Detroit, received more than 2,000 submissions as of the Friday deadline.

To all of those who shared inspirational stories of leadership, the BME Campaign thanks you for your efforts in making your communities stronger.

Now that entries are in, members of the community have 11 days to vote on the stories that they find the most inspirational. Videos will be produced for individuals who submitted the five stories with the most votes, and will be shown at BME celebration events in Detroit on Tuesday, Oct. 18 and in Philadelphia on Monday, Oct. 24.

After the events, individuals who submitted stories during the first phase of the challenge will have the opportunity to submit funding proposals for projects they think would better their communities.

Winners will then receive funding and support to execute their projects and will share their progress on the BME website.

To learn more about the BME Challenge, hear from Donna Frisby-Greenwood, program director/Philadelphia, about why the BME Challenge is personal.

BME is supported by Knight Foundation and the Open Society Foundations' Campaign for Black Male Achievement.

Following FCC report, new projects will focus on ways public policy can improve local news and information flows

Oct. 3, 2011, 3:10 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller


Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission released a landmark report on community information needs that was the most comprehensive national look at media policy in a generation.

Today, in an effort to ensure that the important public policy recommendations in the report become fully realized, Knight Foundation announced several new projects to highlight ways public policy improvements can in turn improve local news and information flows.

In one of the new efforts, Steven Waldman, the report’s author, will become a visiting senior media policy scholar at Columbia University. There, Waldman will study emerging media issues and advocate for the report’s recommendations to help build pressure for action.

The foundation also will fund a series of events and research papers hosted by universities to encourage debate and feedback around the report’s major recommendations. Another project announced is a convening of the National Association of State Public Affairs Networks at the Newseum to develop a plan to create “state C-Spans” in all 50 states.

Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia – now accepting applications

Oct. 3, 2011, 12:23 p.m., Posted by Valerie Nahmad Schimel

Crossposted from Knight Arts blog

Here we go!  The second year of the Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia launched today, and we’re ready to hear your best ideas for the city’s vibrant arts scene!  Applications are now being accepted right here through Oct. 31.

We believe the arts can engage and enrich communities and that your ideas can make an impact.  That’s why the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is investing $9 million in innovative arts ideas. To date, 36 ideas have been awarded $2.7 million.

What can these ideas look like?  The possibilities are endless.  No idea is too large or too small, as long as it follows three basic rules:

  1. Your idea is about the arts.
  2. Your project takes place in or benefits Philadelphia.
  3. You find other funding to match the Knight Foundation grant (within a year).

Over the course of the next four weeks, we’ll be counting down to the deadline, posting a series of tips and answers to common questions, and showcasing some of last year’s amazing winners to get you inspired. We hope you'll take advantage and follow along right here.

For more on this year’s contest, check out the press release here.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter and ask questions using #AskKightArts.

We look forward to another year of great ideas!

Student-led News21 program publishes major food safety investigation in Washington Post,

Oct. 3, 2011, 8:56 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

This week, student journalists from five universities participating in the Carnegie-Knight News 21 program published a major national investigation into food safety in America. The investigation is getting prominent play in The Washington Post and on

The series covers the dangers posed by seafood, how hundreds of millions of pounds of contaminated meat is approved for sale in the U.S and how foodborne illnesses sicken 48 million Americans per year, among other topics.

In its coverage, an article in The Washington Post says:

"A look at how the nation’s food safety system operates in the case of salmonella-infected poultry shows how a combination of industry practices and gaps in government oversight results in a fractured effort that leaves the ultimate responsibility for safe food with the consumer."