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

Mar 08, 2012

What’s in a name: Broad definition for “news” in Knight News Challenge

Posted by Marika Lynch

Note: To apply for the News Challenge, and read our FAQ, visit

We’ve spoken to some potential applicants over the last week who have worried that their projects may not be “newsy” enough for the News Challenge.  

The idea might not be in the strictest sense - but that shouldn’t stop them from submitting.

Sure, “news” is in the challenge’s name. But over the course of running challenge, we’ve learned that many interesting ideas for informing and engaging communities may not, at first blush, be easily classified as news. In the recent past, we’ve funded data visualization projects and data scrapers, for example.

In this current contest, our focus is on projects that use networks to help communities get the information they need. We’ll fund projects that use existing software and platforms to deliver news and information.

Here are some more past challenge winners that may not have appeared to be “newsy:”

* NextDrop - Most cities in India have running water just a few hours a day. NextDrop is developing a system to let people know when that water is available, by text message - pretty vital information. That “news” comes from utility workers who call a voice response system when water is flowing.  

* Awesome Foundation - Awesome Foundation has developed a  reputation for crowdsourcing funds for mini-grants to “crazy brilliant” community ideas. Now, the Awesome News Task Force in Detroit is providing micro grants to journalism and civic media projects.

* Zeega -  Zeega is an HTML5 platform that makes it easy to collaboratively produce multimedia projects online. Now in alpha, Zeega can be used to combine original content with photos, videos, text and maps from across the Web.

The best way to find out if your idea is applicable for challenge funding is to apply - by March 17 - at

Back to top