At the Mozilla Festival, Knight participated in a panel discussion about the future of innovation in the news and announced a new set of prototype grants. Nate Matias, a research assistant at the MIT Center for Civic Media, blogs the session's higlights. The following is crossposted from the center's blog. Above: Dan Sinker is serious and Michael Maness uses his long form explainer claw to outline the future of Knight's journalism and media innovation strategy.
Today at the Mozilla Festival, Dan Sinker and Michael Maness hosted a conversation about the Knight Foundation's funding programs and evolving priorities for journalism and media innovation. The session started with pretty grim context on the state of journalism and turned into an exciting and deeply practical conversation about supporting transformational innovation in the news.
In the last five years, $3.5 billion have been eliminated from newsroom payrolls. Knight Foundation spends 100 million dollars a year, and they spend 30-40 of that on journalism. Michael shows us a graph of newspaper advertising revenue adjusted for inflation 1950 to 2012. The drop from 2000 has been precipitous.
How does Knight respond in this environment? Knight funds projects towards Freedom of Expression (26 grants), journalism education (28), Digital Transformation (19), Media Innovation (53), and open government data (6). In the near term, they expect to offer more grants and more money in digital innovation as well as more money for opening government data.
Michael talks about the Knight Prototype fund, which offers $50,000 or less to prototype projects. He announces the latest set of prototype grantees:
- UNICEF Amplifying Voices of Youth. UNICEF tried this in Rio and Haiti, and it took off, so they're trying to reflect and scale the project.
- FOIA Machine makes it easy to find out how to make freedom of information requests in many countries.
- Ground Truth is a system for crowdsourcing citizen reports.
- Kon*Fab links news with the real-time activities of news readers.
On average, an innovation takes around four iterations before it stabilises into something that's consistent, but people often use grants just to build the first version. That's where the Knight Prototype Fund can help. Through the prototype fund, Knight will be funding 70-80 grants of $5-50k. Knight also hopes to fund 10-15 of these projects to help them scale.
Dan Sinker tells us about the new Code Sprint project within the Open News program. The core mission of Open News is to place highly skilled developers within newsrooms. Open News has also funded numerous hack days.
There's a big gap between developers who spend a year at newsrooms and people who spend a single weekend in a hack day. Especially when people don't need to make a startup but want to make tools, they often can benefit from to bringing people together across organizations for a longer code sprint. The output of springs need to be replicable, open, and able to solve a common problem for several news organizations. (read more at the Nieman Lab)
We're well beyond the days of trying to save journalism, Dan Sinker reminds us. He's excited that we're at a stage where people can try lots of new experiments, where building small is smart.