The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Hatch Detroit's co-founders Nick Gorga and Ted Balowski
If we Detroiters are passionate about our city and eager to engage in our community, how do we go about simply - and fully - unlocking our collective energy? It’s a question we at Knight Foundation ponder and work on everyday as we pursue our mission of informed and engaged communities.
Today, with this question in mind, we’re delighted to announce a grant $50,000 grant to Hatch Detroit, a non-profit that engages Detroiters through retail entrepreneurship contests.
“Place Matters,” a weekly radio program, is being featured in The Atlantic as among one of the “best venues to tell the story” of placemaking and community engagement.
Profiling the innovating placemaking work of various cities, the program also showcases successful ideas from everyday citizens who are involved in making their communities a better place to live.
Update - Dec. 2: Watch the video from the session, "Covering Controversy," with Penn State's Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society Malcolm Moran and leading journalists. More info on the event is below.
Tonight, a conversation with major sports journalists in the wake of the alleged child sex abuse scandal at Penn State will be moderated by Malcolm Moran, the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State University.
The conversation, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. EST, will “highlight the critical need for transparency in reporting on college athletic programs.”
Moran is seen as a leading resource by top media organizations currently covering the ongoing scandal. He has over 30 years of experience as an award-winning and respected sports journalist at USA Today, The New York Times, Newsday and Chicago Tribune.
Moran has written about the story for The New York Times, touching on how the scandal has affected him personally:
In 2008, Knight Foundation helped launch Spot.us with $340,000 in seed funding through the Knight News Challenge, an international contest to find innovative, digital ideas for delivering news and information. Today, Founder David Cohn reports exciting news: Spot.us has merged with American Public Media's Knight-funded Public Insight Network. “Mergers between between new and existing news initiatives can drive innovation,” said Michael Maness, Vice President for Journalism & Media Innovation program. “We saw this earlier this year when Knight News Challenge winner Document Cloud and Investigative Reporters and Editors combined forces, and we are hopeful for as successful an integration between these two Knight partners.”
By David Cohn
Spot.Us launched in November of 2008. Counting the months of planning (and applying for the Knight News Challenge) that went into the launch and I’ve been working on Spot.Us for almost four years. In that time we’ve pushed boundaries, had many successes and shortcomings which I’ve tried to share along the way. As I’ve always said – Spot.Us will never be perfect. It will never be “done” and that as long as we can strive for something we are making progress.
In its coverage, the magazine offers a portrait of 2011's global marketplace of ideas and the 100 thinkers who make them. About Ito, a Knight board member and director of the MIT Media Lab, and Zuckerman, director of the MIT Center for Civic Media, the magazine writes:
Image courtesy of Flickr user Matt Wade
Major journalism groups are calling on the Supreme Court to allow audio and video coverage of upcoming health-care reform arguments.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has petitioned to include the recordings in three cases involving proposed federal health-care legislation. Delaying the release of argument recordings “will impede journalists’” ability to provide same-day coverage, the letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts also noted. The Supreme Court usually releases audio recordings at the end of the week. It has never allowed video recordings of its proceedings.
Jon Vidar, a 2011 Knight News Challenge winner, photojournalist and digital strategist, covered the Mozilla Festival earlier this month for KnightBlog. Here, he reflects on the state of media innovation and what he learned at the gathering in London.
The last two years have been a blur. The organization I lead, The Tiziano Project, has gone from a team of scrappy volunteers wanting to build something because we thought it would be cool, to an organization that is not just competing with, but actually beating the likes of CNN and NPR for awards.
The following is crossposted from KnightArts' blog:
Charlotte’s arts journalism takes a leap forward this month as the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance launches. Funded by a $100,000 Community Arts Journalism Challenge grant awarded by Knight Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance is a partnership between the Charlotte Observer, public radio station WFAE, television station WCNC, UNC Charlotte, Qcitymetro.com and CharlotteViewpoint.org.
Today, Knight Foundation and partners announced the launch of Change By Us Philadelphia, a site that provides residents a way to take an active role in improving their city.
Change By Us allows residents to share ideas for making their city better and helps to turn those ideas into projects that have real impact. The site provides a platform to share ideas, join or create projects, build teams and find resources to help projects succeed. The following is an adapted version of remarks Donna Frisby-Greenwood, program director/Philadelphia at Knight Foundation, made at today’s announcement.
Change By Us is perfect for Philadelphia in so many ways. As Mayor Nutter said, Philadelphia is the original U.S. city of innovation and invention. We are also a city of many neighborhoods, with people eager to express their opinions and roll up their sleeves to build a better Philadelphia.
The College Hill Alliance recently released a report highlighting the alliance's first two years and the Knight Neighborhood Challenge. Beverly Blake, program director/Macon at Knight Foundation reflects on the challenge and the people behind it.
From the time I moved to Macon seven years ago, I have heard over and over again how much “potential” Macon has. But it seemed to me that no one was deliberately acting to realize that potential. That is, until in 2007 when a group of Mercer University students came up with an idea and plan to connect Mercer with historic downtown Macon and sold it to the president of the university and the mayor. As a result, through the College Hill Corridor effort and the Knight Neighborhood Challenge, together we are on our way to creating the future for Macon that we seek.
Above: Reed Hundt, former chairman, FCC and current chairman, IDEA.
“In the early days of the Internet as a commercial and social phenomenon, the thought was that the Internet would be the global common medium... building a platform for the world to connect to each other," says Reed Hundt, former chairman of the FCC during the Clinton Administration.
The pace in which it has connected people - 2 billion participants in 20 years - is "astounding," he said.
However, as the Internet has exploded in growth, the commercial interests in it may have diverged from public interests.
Wednesday was Give to the Max Day at www.GiveMN.org and Minnesotans did indeed give to the max! Almost $13.6 million was raised for 3,978 nonprofits through online giving from 47,540 donors.
GiveMN.org is an innovative online resource seeking to change the way Minnesotans give and help create a stronger nonprofit community for Minnesota. It is a program of the Saint Paul Foundation/Minnesota Community Foundation.
Ted Han, DocumentCloud, in a video by Jon Vidar
Above, Ted Han describes how DocumentCloud, a 2011 Knight News Challenge winner, is developing a new feature allowing newsrooms to invite public participation in annotating and commenting on source documents.
The tool will help newsrooms involve their readers in the news and improve DocumentCloud as a journalistic tool and investigative reporting resource. The site recently merged with Investigative Reporters and Editors.
As a two-time Knight News Challenge winner (it won also in 2009 to launch), DocumentCloud already helps journalists analyze, annotate and publish original source documents. The site is used by more than 200 newsrooms nationwide.
James Burns, chief technology officer at Zeega, in a video by Jon Vidar
Zeega is an open-source HTML 5 platform for creating interactive documentaries and inventing new forms of storytelling.
Above, James Burns, Zeega's chief technology officer, describes how the tool will make it easy to collaboratively produce, curate and publish participatory multimedia projects online and on mobile devices.
Eric Newton at Arizona State University
What does the future of news look like? In a presentation to hundreds of students, professors and community participants last night in Phoenix, Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president at Knight Foundation, provided some insight.
In “A history of the future of news: What 1767 tells us about 2100,” Newton’s four main points were:
Brian Boyer, news applications editor at the Chicago Tribune, describes PANDA in a video by Jon Vidar.
Earlier this month PANDA, which helps news organizations better use public information by creating new software that cleans up and helps analyze it, went alpha.
Users can now test PANDA Project Alpha and give feedback on how it's doing.
The Chicago Community Trust, a two-time Knight Community Information Challenge winner, has focused its efforts on fostering a healthy news ecosystem of both for-profit and nonprofit news and information providers.
The Trust’s most recent effort is the development of an advertising network of 15 small, local news sites in the Chicago area. These sites are too small to attract the interest of major advertisers. But together, they can offer a digital network with over one million monthly guaranteed impressions.
Ngoan Le, vice president of program for the Trust, said seed funding for the Chicago Independent Ad Network is part of the foundation's larger strategy of helping new sources of local news and information become self-supporting by developing revenue streams such as advertising.
Stockholm Subway Image via Wacky Owl
This post, written by Knight Foundation Arts Program Associate, Tatiana Hernandez, was originally published on the Americans for the Arts' Blog.
The Animating Democracy blog salon on ARTSblog.org sought answers to a very big question: what will it take to move and sustain arts and culture in community development, civic engagement and social change? The 21st century is all about intersections, networks and hybridity. Our goal should be to ingrain arts in community development through cross-cutting projects that seek to anchor people to place. Carol Atlas nailed it by highlighting Arts & Democracy’s new book: Bridge Conversations, People Who Live and Work in Multiple Worlds.
Knight Foundation is excited to participate in South by Southwest Interactive next March and sponsor the SXSW Accelerator Competition. Last year, we launched a new track for News-Related Technologies and we will continue supporting it this year. In fact, applications for the contest are due by next Friday, Nov. 18, at: sxsw.com/interactive/accelerator.
At Knight, we are committed to seeing journalism to its best possible future. Over the past four years, we have invested more than $100 million in a Media Innovation Initiative, to among other things experiment with new media models for journalism. So far, our funding has helped launch more than 200 community news experiments.
If you are a current grantee or a media innovator who is passionate about using journalism and technology to inform and engage communities, we want to meet you. We are eager to discover interesting projects, meet potential grantees or Knight News Challenge winners and learn about new technologies.
Above: Joaquin Alvarado, Senior VP at American Public Media
It's important to start asking how we can leverage digital media and social networks as a platform to improve our democracy, argues Joaquin Alvarado, the Senior Vice President for Digital Innovation for American Public Media. The formation of networks is not just a digital tech issue, but a question of how new ideas are socialized, he says.
We've had a busy fall in the Journalism & Media Innovation Program and I wanted to share some of what we've been up to with you.
First, I want to highlight two grants we made recently. On Thursday, we announced a grant to Northwestern's Medill School to extend a scholarship program we began in 2007 to bring software developers into the field of journalism. In his post about the grant, Medill professor and project lead Rich Gordon highlighted the work being done by graduates of the first round of the program. Among them are Knight News Challenge winner (and 2010 Chicago Tribune Outstanding Employee) Brian Boyer, The World's Manya Gupta and Nick Allen and Andrew Paley, who are part of the team at Narrative Science. Poynter's Steve Myers pointed to the list of news developer jobs, noting that "if 48 news developers materialized out of thin air, they’d all have jobs too." Or, as Boyer puts it, "there’s too much data, and too few hackers."
Bay Citizen election simulator
The Bay Citizen, a nonprofit and nonpartisan news outlet, is covering the San Francisco mayor’s race with a ground-breaking interactive tool that manages to explain in simple terms the complicated ranked-choice voting system used by the city to choose the mayor and other public officials. Under ranked-choice voting, voters select their top three candidates in order of preference. The lowest vote-getters are knocked out and their votes are redistributed until one candidate wins a majority.
Image courtesy of Flickr user skyfaller.
Four and a half years ago, Northwestern University and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced a novel program: scholarships for people with computer programming experience to study journalism in the Medill School's master's program. It was such a sufficiently unusual idea that it got the attention of BoingBoing, one of the most popular tech/culture blogs, which ran a short item under the headline, "Turn coders into journalists (hint: add spellcheck, subtract Skittles)."
Today, the idea that journalism needs more software developers is mainstream. And that's why Medill and the Knight Foundation are announcing an extension of the scholarship program.
A panorama of Haas&Hahn's work in Colombia. Image by Haas&Hahn via Favela Painting
This post, written by Knight Foundation Arts Program Associate, Tatiana Hernandez, was originally published on the Americans for the Arts' Blog.
People have looked to the arts to help define their communities and create a sense of place for generations. So, why are we so excited about creative placemaking today? Perhaps it has something to do with context. In this digital world, many are reexamining the fundamental nature of “community” and our relationship to place. We now know, based on findings from the Knight Soul of the Community report, that social offerings, followed by openness and aesthetics explain why we love where we live. What does that tell us about the essential importance of our connection to place? “Vibrancy” is popping up as a way of describing the intangible nature of a neighborhood’s character. Here are three projects working to help define a sense of place in each of their communities.
Philadelphia has a strong tradition of mural work, and thanks to Mural Arts, artists and residents continue to come together to help define “home." As part of their Knight Arts Challenge project, Mural Arts brought two Dutch artists, Haas&Hahn, to North Philadelphia to live, work and engage the community around a large-scale mural that will span several blocks of Germantown Avenue. Known for their abstract, colorful work in Santa Marta (Rio de Janeiro), Haas&Hahn will involve residents in the actual painting. They will begin training “team leaders” this fall before tackling the challenge of painting Germantown Avenue. I recently spent a (wet!) morning in Philadelphia with Dre Urhahn. He explained to me why he and his partner, Jeroen Koolhaas, were attracted to abstract work. “Traditional [figurative] murals tend to tell the story of what a community is or has been, abstract images are more likely to inspire a community as to what it can be.”
Knight Foundation Vice President/Strategic Initiatives Paula Ellis on Connect to Compete and broadband adoption
When a bold or cutting-edge idea is proposed, it is difficult to find partners who are willing to back ideas that have never been attempted. However, there are those visionary leaders who see the potential and promise of unexplored territory. The FCC has announced an unprecedented coalition of those visionary leaders who will partner for Connect to Compete, one of the biggest efforts to promote digital opportunities for disadvantaged people.
In continuing to unveil the details about Connect to Compete, the FCC today announced a $4 billion initiative from this country’s leading Internet service providers and technology companies, which will provide affordable broadband access for eligible families. Families with at least one child enrolled in the free school lunch program will be eligible to receive high-speed Internet for $9.95 a month and refurbished computers for $150 or new computers beginning at $250, with financing options to help with upfront costs.
A new study reveals that while student media presence remains strong, only one-third of schools surveyed have any online student media. Additionally, schools that are smaller and poorer or have large minority populations are more likely to have no student media.
The study by the Center for Scholastic Journalism is one of the most extensive national counts of American public high school student media ever conducted.
In honor of its 15th anniversary, CommonWealth Magazine is taking a look at some of the challenges and opportunities created by the changes in the world of journalism.
As part of its coverage, the magazine which is published by the nonpartisan public affairs think tank MassINC, features an article about how collaboration, including tapping the wisdom of the crowd, is now part of a journalist’s role. The article, written by Eric Newton, senior advisor to the president of Knight Foundation, identifies journalists’ opportunities and responsibilities:
“Today, anyone with a broadband connection can create news, pass it along, critique it. We must tell the story of how people need reliable news and information to run their communities and their lives. We should tell people a lot more about how and why journalists do what we do. Promoting media literacy in the digital age is part of our role.”
BME Challenge Profiles
The following post, written by Jamira Burley, a member of the Philadelphia "street team" that collected stories of how black men and boys are leading their communities, highlights several aspects of the BME Challenge over the past several months, including last month's celebration at The Philadelphia Franklin Institute:
Inspiration; If there is anything more powerful then being surrounded by 300 of Philadelphia “change agents,” then I haven’t quite discovered what that is yet. The inspiration that radiated from the room wasn’t just because we were sitting in the shadow of one of the country’s founding fathers, Ben Franklin, but because we were there to honor his legacy in the form of more than 1,000 African-American men. Over the last few months, these 1,000 men, individually, submitted their stories to Knight Foundation's “BME Challenge." The men represented everything from community leaders, city officials, educators, poets and artists alike. The men represented what Philadelphia, if not this country, is made of. They are the everyday unsung heroes who are changing lives, one person at a time.
The following post, written by Neil de la Flor, recounts the events of the Knight-funded Sleepless Night 2011, a 12-hour fete of cultural events on Miami Beach. The post orginally appeared on the Knight Arts Blog:
Beneath the almost full moon at the North Shore Bandshell, Miami Lyric Opera’s breathtaking performance of “Marina,” a zarzuela by Spanish composer Emilio Arrieta set in Costa Brava, Spain, impressed the audience. Starring Hilda de Castillo, Jesse James Vargas, Diego Baner and Nelson Martinez, the cast, especially de Castillo and Martinez, powered through the performance despite the quality of the sound system, the whoosh of traffic zooming north on Collins Avenue and a small crowd of possibly drunken masquerade-mask wearing revelers, who had gathered for an impromptu sing along with the cast.
FLEA Ensemble. Photo Neil de la Flor
Gia Arbogast, branch administrator for the Miami-Dade Public Library System describes how YOUMedia Miami will engage teens in building digital literacy skills
Libraries have a fundamental role in how attached people are to where they live, Knight’s Paula Ellis, vp/strategic initiatives, told a gathering of library and civic leaders last week.
That’s particularly important because how residents feel about their community may lead to greater economic vitality, the Knight-funded Soul of the Community study found.
The study identified three factors that drive why people are emotionally attached to their neighborhoods and cities. They include: openness, or how welcoming a place is, its social offerings and aesthetics, Ellis said at The Urban Libraries Partners for Success Conference 2011:
“Openness is at the top of the list of what drives people to love where they live. What is more welcoming than a library? Being welcoming is what gets people in the door and then people can form this emotional attachment to the library as a true community center and place for personal transformation.”
According to the study, communities with the highest number of attached people had the highest rates of economic growth over time.
PublicSource, an investigative journalism organization that received seed funding as a Knight Community Information Challenge winner, launched Sunday with a report that college lands in Pennsylvania may be leased for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking – a controversial method of extracting natural gas from rock.
“Our goal is to become a trusted source of in-depth and enterprise news and investigations. At a time when there’s more information than ever available to you, we want to prove our value as a reliable authority on issues of importance,” Editor Sharon Walsh said in announcing the launch. “We are a non-profit, public service website that will take the complex questions facing the region, put them in context and shine a light on parts of the story that may not have been told elsewhere.”
Above: Knight VP for Journalism and Media Innovation Michael Maness on the future of the News Challenge
In case you missed it, here are some highlights from last week’s Mozilla Festival in London:
* Friday at the festival, we announced the 2011/12 Knight-Mozilla News Technology Fellows, a group of five coders who will be embedded in leading newsrooms to help address their technology problems. Fellow Cole Gillespie, who will be joining Zeit Online for the year, also talked with journalist Jon Vidar about how he plans to help the outlet mine social media for data.
Yesterday at Mozilla Fest, Michael Maness, Knight's VP of Journalism and Media Innovation, and Dan Sinker, director of the Knight Mozilla partnership, sat down for a fireside chat to discuss key themes of the Knight News Challenge and the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership.
Michael gave a sneak peak of the Knight News Challenge 2012, which is going to be broken up into faster, more focused competitions. In the coming year, three calls for entries, centered around three different topics, will each be only 12 weeks in length - a way to be more responsive to the fast-paced culture of the start-up world.
Michael also noted that the process will rely much more heavily on digital technology than it has in the past, complete with a video pitch that will allow the judges to really connect with the members of the project.
Above: Knight VP for Journalism and Media Innovation Michael Maness on the future of the News Challenge.
Today is Day 2 of Mozilla's "Media, Freedom and the Web" Festival in London. The news Friday was the announcement of the five Knight-Mozilla News Technology fellows; the news today and tomorrow is an amazing array of collaborations, design challenges, labs, hack sessions - even a Science Fair. Represented in the mix are Knight-supported projects including Ushahidi, ScraperWiki, Poderopedia, Zeega, Document Cloud, the MIT Media Lab, PANDA, Frontline SMS and Tiziano.
My colleague Michael Maness will be doing an "Under the Hood of Knight-Mozilla" chat with Dan Sinker, the coordinator of the Knight-Mozilla partnership. There, he is going to talk about our plans for the Knight News Challenge in 2012.
Michael will address this more today, but here is a preview:
Above: Paula Kerger President and CEO, PBS
This post 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 knightfoundation.org/focas.
This year has been a complicated one for PBS, as federal funding was nearly cut off entirely for the 41-year-old nonprofit broadcasting institution, says President and CEO Paula Kerger (@paulakerger on Twitter).
"Government funding is very important if you care about access, and making sure that all Americans have the ability to see public broadcasting content," Kerger said. She credited an outreach campaign on behalf of PBS for successfully preserving its funding.
Today in London, our partners at the Mozilla Foundation are announcing the first cohort of Knight-Mozilla Fellows. As Dan Sinker describes below, each of the five is an accomplished developer, and each will be placed within a world-class newsroom. At Knight Foundation, we’re of course eager to see what the fellows produce with their partner news organizations. But because the code they produce will be open source, the fellows will have an impact far outside of their home newsroom. – John S. Bracken
This week I've spent a lot of time writing about the opportunities that lie at the intersection of open-source philosophies and journalism. Today the "thinking out loud" stops and the "making it happen" begins. And that begins with the announcement of the 2011/12 Knight-Mozilla Fellows.
Gia Arbogast, branch administrator for the Miami-Dade Public Library System
Soon at a Miami library, high school kids will learn how to use technology to visualize their favorite book, create short animated films, even tell an autobiographical, digital story.
Called YOUMedia, the Knight-funded digital literacy classes are a way to get kids to think critically about their lives and their community - to experiment with who they are and what their communities can become.
While at the The Urban Libraries Partners for Success Conference 2011, Knight sat down with Gia Arbogast, branch administrator for the Miami-Dade Public Library System, to talk about the launch of the program and its potential impact for the community:
Over the next two days, directors of some of the most creative libraries in the U.S. and key civic leaders are sharing ways public libraries can help strengthen community engagement.
The Urban Libraries Partners for Success Conference 2011 brings together thought leaders in today’s civic engagement movement and young people who will shape the future of American communities.
“Civic engagement comes in many forms and libraries are at the top of the list of places where people can get involved,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez told the crowd as he helped open the conference. “Libraries contribute to a stronger sense of community and help produce solutions to local issues. I’m confident that will continue to hold true.”
Knight Foundation sat down with Susan Benton, president and CEO of the Urban Libraries Council to learn more about the connection between libraries and community engagement.
Q: What is the role that libraries play in developing community engagement?
S.B: Libraries are part of the natural infrastructure of the community. In many neighborhoods, we are the primary community asset and the place where people come together on a regular basis.
Q: In what kinds of ways do you see citizens interacting with their local libraries?
Dec 8. update: Check out the Civil Debate Wall in action!
As a way to encourage dialogue about the most critical issues facing Florida and the nation, this fall the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida launched a 44-by-26 inch interactive wall.
The Great Civil Debate Wall, aimed specifically at engaging students, will encourage those with diverse backgrounds and political views to express their opinions.
The following post by Polly M. Talen, program director/St. Paul for Knight Foundation focuses on the foundation's efforts in St. Paul. It was originally written for the Minnesota Council on Foundation's Giving Forum Fall 2011.
You might have heard something on Minnesota Public Radio about supporting journalism in the digital age. Possibly you’ve experienced a Random Act of Culture or participated in the Minnesota State Fair’s first Giant Sing Along. Or maybe you heard about a group of foundations and civic leaders working to ensure that the new Central Corridor light rail line provides opportunity for all of Saint Paul’s residents, especially those living in neighborhoods adjacent to the new line.
The challenges to a well-informed democracy in today’s hyper-connected world are clear: Disengaged audiences, “filter bubbles” in which the information voters get is what they tend to agree with, and a lack of productive political discourse online. But what can the media and technologists do about it? A year out from the 2012 presidential election, Knight Foundation brought together some of the brightest thinkers on these issues to brainstorm ideas.