Knight Blog

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

Engaging residents in increasing civility in Akron

July 19, 2012, 1:49 p.m., Posted by Jennifer Thomas

Over 120 people came together this week in Akron to engage in a discussion about how residents and politicians can best address critical issues that are polarizing the nation. 

The conversation also featured a new Knight grantee, The Civility Project, whose goal is "to return civility to public discourse." It plans to use its $33,000 support from Knight to increase the community's ability to respectfully and safely discuss issues that divide people, by engaging citizens, organizations and political campaigns to live by a specific community civility code of conduct.  The code of conduct is currently being developed.

The discussion featured panelists from the Akron Beacon Journal, the University of Akron and various faith based leaders, who collectively asked the community's input at they create a civility index that could help change behavior. The full conversation is available in the video above.

The Civic Commons, another Knight grantee, has started an ongoing conversation about The Civility Project via its online platform which it hopes will engage community members in understanding the basic pillars of civility, how to improve it and how to best apply standards. 

As evident by their participation in the conversation, the community is energized around the conversation. It is also looking forward to shaping a model that can be used in other communities.

Bringing the medical school model of journalism to Central Georgia

July 19, 2012, 9:45 a.m., Posted by Marika Lynch

In just a few weeks, reporters from the Macon Telegraph and Georgia Public Broadcasting will move into a new newsroom, bringing the medical school model of journalism to Central Georgia. And shortly after that, the first students from Mercer University will join them at the university’s Center for Collaborative Journalism, reporting alongside and learning the latest in digital storytelling from professional journalists from the two organizations.

Their newsroom will be named for Peyton Anderson, the former owner of the Telegraph, whose foundation today announced a $1 million gift to the effort. The new support means the center has met its funding goal.

The center launched in December with more than $4 million in support from Knight Foundation, which was founded by Jack and Jim Knight, also one-time Telegraph owners.

As the Telegraph reported today, the combined support ‘‘sends an incredibly powerful message about how vitally important it is that our community continues to receive the same high level of public service journalism that we have delivered for 185 years,” Telegraph Publisher George McCanless said.

An update on Knight News Challenge: Data

July 19, 2012, 8:50 a.m., Posted by John Bracken

knc reviewers


Based on the comments from our team of advisers who helped review the apps and our internal own review, we’ve selected and are in the process of contacting 16 finalists in the Knight News Challenge: Data. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be doing in-person interviews or video chats with each of them them. We’ll announce that list of finalists, and the winners of the contest, in September.

This morning, we’ve also sent an email to the remaining 765 letting them know that they will not be receiving funding via the the News Challenge. One of the great things about the News Challenge is that it exposes us (and everyone else who reads the entries) to ideas and people. While we can fund only a fraction of the ideas that come through the News Challenge, we have other means for funding promising initiatives. For example, last month, we announced a grant to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to fund an idea that originally came to us through the News Challenge on Networks. And our new prototype fund  allows us to test ideas quickly - we announced some that will receive funding last month. We’ve begun to reach out to some News Challenge applicants to explore whether their ideas might fit this program, and we plan to announce some prototype grants soon.

Here are a few of the insights we took from last week’s review session:

  • A need for partners. We saw many projects with promising concepts or products, but that need partnerships with news organizations or others to test their use cases and find social impact. There’s a need for better partner matching in the media innovation space.
  • Data standardization. A segment of applications dealt with the need for standardization of data.
  • Designing for user experiences. The strongest projects were those that joined compelling uses of data with an experience carefully designed for a well-understood group of users. Many data projects are taking the next step from availability to effective presentation and interaction.