Knight Blog

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

OpenNews: countdown to the Knight-Mozilla-MIT Hack Day

June 16, 2012, 8:26 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

mit media lab

A day before the 2012 MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference, the MIT Media Lab (pictured above) is hosting a 24 hour hack day. Dan Sinker, who heads the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project, writes about what to expect. The following is crossposted from Sinker's blog.

Today,  60 developers, journalists, and data experts are converging on the MIT Media Lab to spend 24 hours collaborating, sketching, and building new tools and concepts to help move from data to stories.

It feels like we’re entering a golden age of data. As we arrive at more sophisticated tools to manipulate and visualize it, and as we understand what we can do with them, we are breaking new ground every day. Those leaps are both technological and conceptual: we are arriving at very new understandings of how data can enhance stories.

Just take a look at some of the recent data-driven reporting, and you see that something decidedly new is afoot:

  • “Gay rights in the US, state by state” by the Guardian completely blew me away when it came out. It took what could have been a straightforward list of gay rights laws and cut it into a graphic that allowed you to rearrange the blocks by state population, and even the location of your Facebook friends. The data, and the presentation of it, was able to tell a very different story this way.
  • “Where the Heat and the Thunder Hit Their Shots” by the New York Times is a beautiful visulization of what could be exceptionally boring data: analysis of basketball shooting data. But by engaging in simple animations that beg the user to continue to engage, it illustrates the point beautifully.
  • “The Message Machine” by ProPublica doesn’t go for jaw-dropping visualizations, but instead blazes new ground in data collection. Curious about the new attempts at micro-targeting political messages, the team at ProPublica built a system to collect e-mails from thousands of volunteers.

Our next week: Hacks, stories and winners

June 15, 2012, 9:44 a.m., Posted by John S. Bracken


Photo Credit: Flickr user Andrew Whitacer

The next week is a big one for us here at Knight Foundation.

Over the next few days, you may notice a couple of hundred of people moving towards the MIT Media Lab for The Story & The Algorithm, the 2012 Civic Media Conference. Knight Foundation and the Center for Civic Media at MIT collaborate on the conference. It’s an important occasion for us to gather friends, colleagues and new people - and to announce some news. Here is a list of conference participants on Twitter; we’ll be using #civicmedia and are also live streaming the conference.

In concert with the its theme, we will precede the conference with a day of coding and an evening of storytelling. On Saturday, our partners at Mozilla will hold a hack day, featuring “an all-star cast of developers, entrepreneurs, journalists, and media thinkers.” Their goal, according to Dan Sinker, is to “move the convergence of data and story into newer places still.” You can see what they’re work working on.  On Sunday evening, we open the full conference with storytelling, brought to us by The Moth and PRX.

Monday morning, Media Lab director (and Knight Foundation trustee) Joi Ito will kick off the conference. In addition to the rock stars who run the Center for Civic Media, we’ll see have discussions moderated by Emily Bell, Susan CrawfordBenjamen Walker and Christina Xu. On Monday afternoon, we’ll announce the winners of the first Knight News Challenge of the year, on Networks. We’ll be live-tweeting the winners using #newschallenge. Michael Maness, vice president of journalism and media innovation at Knight, will talk about new funding tools we’re implementing.  

Tuesday includes a conversation about what has (and has not) worked with Open Government with Mark Headd of Code for America, Mike Norman from Wefunder and Chris Vein, Deputy CTO in the White House. A noon presentation will feature comic artist Michael Kupperman and a final panel focuses on “some of the more unexpected and provocative directions news and civic media may be taking in the future.”

@ibarguen: “Our best innovations are still ahead of us.”

June 13, 2012, 5:01 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Syracuse University honored Knight Foundation today with its i-3 award for impact, innovation and influence in the journalism field.

The honor is given annually to individuals or organizations that “have made a profound impact on the media landscape or have captured the public's imagination about the potential or importance of the media in a unique way.”

Knight’s President and CEO Alberto Ibargüen received the award on behalf of the foundation at the sixth annual Mirror Awards ceremony in New York.

Knight Foundation was “chosen as this year's recipient for redefining the role philanthropy can play in media innovation.” Over the past decade, Knight has invested more than $300 million in journalism and media innovation projects, including through the Knight News Challenge, which accelerates breakthrough ideas that inform and engage communities.

“As much as we appreciate the recognition, we also think our best innovations are still ahead of us. If the cutting edge is good, the bleeding edge is better. That’s where we want to be. To get there we must keep moving,” Ibargüen said.