Knight Blog

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

Welcoming more voices in fight for media freedom

May 2, 2012, 5:15 p.m., Posted by Amy Starlight Lawrence



A map showing 2012 World Press Freedom Day events around the world

Freedom of expression advocates are gathering over the next few days to consider the state of media freedom and its future as part of the annual World Press Freedom Day.

This year’s focus is on bringing new voices to the efforts around media freedom. The events, taking place all over the world but hosted in Tunis, Tunisia, are organized by UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It includes partners such as IREX, the U.S. Department of State and the Open Society Foundations.

Knight Foundation's role this year includes helping five World Press Freedom Day Fellows attend events in Tunis so they can participate, blog and tweet.

“These are people who persevere in the face of limited resources, personal danger, and bad laws to make a difference in citizens’ access to information – but who don’t regularly get to interact with international counterparts and gain skills and strength from sharing their experiences,” said Drusilla Menaker, senior media advisor at IREX.

Here’s more information on each of the fellows. Check back over the next few days as we’ll be embedding links to their live blogs from Tunis.

·      Justin Arenstein, South Africa, @justinarenstein

Silicon Valley reading program engages community through open dialogue

May 2, 2012, 4:28 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Each year Silicon Valley Reads hosts dozens of free public events at libraries, schools and community locations. This year, the program engaged more than 8,000 residents who collectively participated in nearly 104 public events and 12 additional events held at local schools.


The video highlighting the kickoff event for 2012 is available above. This year’s theme was “Muslim and American – Two Perspectives.” The featured books were Butterfly Mosque, by G. Willow Wilson and The Muslim Next Door by Sumbul Ali-Karamali.

Knight Program Director in San Jose/Silicon Valley Judith Kleinberg with author G. Willow Wilson at the Silicon Valley Reads kick-off event judy

The events are intended to spark conversations that lead to exchanging perspectives. They also help build a sense of community through open dialogue, support educational goals and promote lifelong learning.

Silicon Valley Reads is sponsored by Knight Foundation and other community organizations. It is presented by The Santa Clara County Office of Education, the Santa Clara County Library and the San Jose Public Library Foundation.

The Mercury News recently cited the success of the three month-long series noting its major supporters “must be pleased with their investment.” Earlier this year, it also wrote an editorial, noting how this year's theme was helping to tackle prejudices against Muslims.

This year’s event marks the program’s 10th anniversary.

Innovating philanthropy while innovating media: thoughts from the Knight News Challenge review

May 1, 2012, 11:30 a.m., Posted by Raina Kumra

Raina Kumra, CEO of Juggernaut and co-director of innovation for the BBG (along with Robert Bole), was one of 19 readers who helped decide which of the 52 projects moved to the next round of the Knight News Challenge on networks. Here, she provides her thoughts on trends that emerged from the entries considered. 

Knight's News Challenge is one of the few events in the foundation world that I can think of that makes foundation funds accessible to real people with big and small ideas. This was my first time as a reviewer for the News Challenge (its sixth one to date) and I walked away with an appreciation for each of the ideas put forth, as well as the design of the challenge itself.

rainaThis challenge had over 1,000 submissions. That’s an indication alone that there are few mechanisms in the foundation world that are as widely publicized and instantly accessible for those looking at apps that help media help people. The reviewers were made up of an impressive and diverse group of journalists and other media-centric folk including: Olivia Ma from YouTube, Ethan Zuckerman from MIT's Center for Civic Media and Harvard’s Berkman Center and Dan Greene from the Gates Foundation to name a few. Lucky for us, the Knight team along with another group of advisors whittled down the entries to about 50 for us to review before the full day session began.

Since the focus of this round of the challenge was networks, a variety of themes emerged from the proposals we reviewed: