Knight Blog

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

Down to the wireless: Final tips for applying

Sept. 9, 2012, 10:49 a.m., Posted by John Bracken

Photo Credit: Flickr user girl_onthe_les

We’re in the final hours of the Knight News Challenge: Mobile - the window for applications closes Monday at 12 noon ET. - the window for applications closes Monday at 12 noon ET.

On Friday, Chris Sopher and I fielded questions about the contest - here are some thoughts for applicants based on the conversations we had.

Brevity and clarity are your friends. A good application will be clearly understood quickly in a short amount of time. It’s not an accident that the first thing we ask for is a one-sentence description of your project. Check out these tips from Kio Stark and Ted Han if you’ve questions about how to construct an application.

Our interest: At Knight Foundation, our focus is how people remain informed citizens, connected with one another and in discussion about the issues around them. Through this News Challenge, we hope to surface ideas for using mobile tools to do that.

Meeting people where they are: Mobile has the unique ability to always meet people where they are, in the tiny and often unexpected breaks in their days. People can and do spend these brief breaks checking social media, playing games, talking to friends, reading the news, and so on, enabled by mobile applications that make it easy. We’re looking for projects that understand this trend and leverage it to do good.

Ideas vs. building: The sixth of the eight questions we ask is, “What part of the project have you already built?” It’s perfectly acceptable to answer “nothing.” We want to know how far along you are on your project. If you’ve already started we take it as a sign that you’re serious about this. A markup, a sketch, an outline, a link to a GitHub repository— if you’ve got it, show us by linking to it. If all you have is an idea, that’s OK.

Early and often: You can apply as often as you like— the greater the specificity of the idea, the better we’ll be able to evaluate it.

The potential of mobile: NPR’s story about Zong Qing Ho, China’s richest man, reminded me of the rapidity with which China’s gone from poverty stricken developing country to economic power.  Perhaps just as dramatic is the rapid emergence of the mobile Internet. The spread of public Wi-Fi hotspots (such as inpost-Olympics Londoncoupled with the growth of devices increases the opportunities for public engagement. Now is your time to tell us how you will help build that reality.

Apply now, and learn more through our FAQ.

By John S. Bracken, director journalism/media innovation at Knight Foundation