Knight Blog

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

Supporting and enhancing ProPublica’s news applications desk

July 18, 2012, 10:11 a.m., Posted by Scott Klein

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Above: ProPublica celebrates its second Pulitzer Prize

We’re very pleased to announce that the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has made a grant to support ProPublica’s news applications desk. The grant will support and enhance our ongoing efforts in what we call “news applications,” which we believe are an emerging discipline within journalism.

A news application is a large web-based interactive database that tells a journalistic story using software instead of words and pictures. It’s software and it’s journalism — both at once, and done by the same people. From Dollars for Docs, which lets readers find out if their healthcare provider is taking payments from pharmaceutical companies, to Opportunity Gap, which helps readers understand the sometimes-unequal distribution of educational opportunites to high poverty schools, ProPublica’s news applications strives toward the same goal as the traditional journalists in our newsroom do: To spur reform through a sustained spotlight on problems.

News applications afford readers the opportunity to see a broad national problem but also to understand how that problem affects them personally. It’s one thing to understand abstractly how, say, educational opporutnities are distributed. But it’s quite another to see your own high school and how it compares to the poorest and wealthiest in the state. If the best way to learn is to apply new knowledge to what you already know, then the ability of a news application to contextualize data has limitless possibilities to do great journalism.

Leading veteran outreach in Philadelphia

July 17, 2012, 12:30 p.m., Posted by Erik Lambertsen

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Ari Merretazon and members of the Pointman Soldiers Heart Ministry gather at Philadelphia’s City Hall

A group of Vietnam and Gulf War veterans, awarded a $25,000 grant through the BME Challenge last winter, recently announced a series of veteran outreach activities and seminars taking place in Philadelphia.

Pointman Soldiers Heart Ministry provides spiritual, peer and benefit support, behavior health referrals and family services to veterans of past and current wars. It is led by Ari Merretazon, a Vietnam veteran who has shared his life story in an anthology on black veterans and has since worked to help those returning from war.

The next seminar is scheduled for Saturday, July 21. It will be hosted by the Church of the Holy Redeemer and take place at 1440 South St., Philadelphia, P.A..

Philadelphia City Council Members Curtis Jones, Jr., Jannie Blackwell and David Oh each expressed support for the group's Outreach and Stand-Down Center as a first point of contact for vulnerable veterans.

Making everyday people art collectors with Community Supported Art

July 13, 2012, 12:46 p.m., Posted by Donna Frisby-Greenwood

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Photo Credit: Philadelphia Folklore Project

At a packed house in Philadelphia's City Hall, Knight Foundation, in partnership with The City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy and Springboard for the Arts, recently launched Community Supported Art.   

The idea of Community Supported Art is based on the Community Supported Agriculture model, which allows local residents to buy food direct from local farmers. Laura Zabel, who serves as the executive director of Springboard for the Arts, created the program to help local artists with new works establish relationships with local “collectors.”  

In Philadelphia, eighteen artists have been selected by two local arts organizations to create 100 shares of the program.  For $450, a “collector” can get nine pieces from local artists selected by Grizzly Grizzly a local arts collaborative and for $350, a collector can get pieces from nine artists at Philadelphia Folklore project.  Each organization will sell fifty shares.  Once all the shares are sold, artists and collectors come together throughout the year for “pick up” events, where collectors pick up their artwork and have a chance to meet the artists.   

It is a model where everyone wins, artists get paid for their work, everyday people like me get to become collectors and our dollars stay in Philadelphia supporting our own.