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Journalism
Mar 01, 2013

Answers to the 7 most common News Challenge questions

Posted by John Bracken

Photo credit: Flickr user Oberazzi

Our News Challenge on Open Gov is open through March 18 for your ideas to improve the way citizens and government interact. It's your shot at a share of $5 million.

Below are seven of the most common questions we’ve received over the last two weeks - and our answers. (You can also check out our FAQ and application tips from Chris Sopher.)

What do you mean by Open Government?

We use “Open Gov” to refer to the new tools and approaches that enable citizens to drive change in their communities. We’ve found that keeping the focus broad increases the range of ideas that we receive.

What are you looking for?

We’re hoping to see two things: 1) approaches and tools for improving the ways citizens and government interact and 2) reactions to those ideas. (Here’s a Twitter version.)

I should hold off on applying until my proposal is fully refined and perfectly thought out, right?

NO!! The opposite is true. You can edit your application anytime before March 29. We’ve created the means for you to do so based on what you learn from others. We’ve found that ideas become better when shared —and the more time you allow for others to find and comment on your idea, the better. (My colleague Chris Barr shared details about why we built the challenge the way we have.)

Are you looking for practical ideas that fix current problems, or big ideas that re-think the way citizens and government interact?

Both.

I can’t build anything. Am I wasting my time here?

Even if you don’t have an idea to propose, we want your input. If you care about improving your community, we want your reactions to what you see here. So please register and chime in. OpenIDEO explains some of the background for the process here.

Who can apply?

Anyone, anyone. Nonprofits, for-profits, governments, Americans, non-Americans...

What do you hope to accomplish?

We think the real potential for Open Gov will only be realized when the principles of openness and transparency become ingrained in how we govern ourselves. To get there, we hope that people who have never heard of Open Gov, who don’t know what a hashtag is, who don’t work on technology, will use the challenge to share their hopes and frustrations. We’ll know we’ve made progress when “Open Gov” is no longer a movement but an expectation for how a democracy should function.

The challenge is open - rather than wait, your best shot at a share of $5 million is to apply now.

In the mean, if you have questions, you can find Knight staff several ways:

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

PS - Last week Michael Maness gave an overview of our work during a Nieman Lab podcast. If you want to know why we do what we do, it’s a good place to start - as is this slide presentation.)

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