Knight Blog

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

For community foundation media projects: Rules of the road for partnership

Feb. 15, 2012, 8:56 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan



As community foundations become active leaders in local news and information, many are learning they don’t need to go it alone. A variety of different partnership models are emerging and they are detailed in a new report by FSG for Knight Foundation

The report is aimed primarily at foundations entering the news and information field, but other players, such as traditional news organizations, nonprofit community media organizations, and universities are prominent members of an emerging constellation of potential partners.

Foundations, the report says, are learning that, “Partnerships are vital to their success, whether they are developing online platforms for community dialogue, financing new online professional news outlets or otherwise providing venues for community engagement about important issues affecting residents’ lives. “

For example, community media organizations may have more experience than the foundations in creating news content, while established news organizations can add reach as distribution partners. University partners might help with technology or students may help create content. Community nonprofits may bring valuable experience with community outreach.

How and why community and place-based foundations are becoming players in the news and information field

Feb. 14, 2012, 12:46 p.m., Posted by Mayur Patel


Community and place-based foundations are playing a growing role in addressing their community information needs. They see their funding of information and media as helping them make an impact on the issues they care about, tied to their philanthropic leadership and likely to increase in the future. These were the key findings from our recently completed State of Information and Media Funding Survey.

Of the 162 community and place-based foundation respondents, more than half report funding information and media-related projects in the past year, with a median contribution of just under $100k. Forty-nine percent of foundations supporting information and media have seen their funding in this area increase in the past three years, and 38% expect it to increase further over the next three years.

The survey also confirmed what we’ve been hearing in the field: that most foundations are funding information and media to make progress on issues that matter to them, in areas such as education, health, civic engagement and nonprofit capacity building.  As one foundation explained:

“We realize that public awareness, engagement, and mobilization are critical components to get civic leadership […] to take decisive action.”

Not just open source: the four funding options for 2012 Knight News Challenge

Feb. 13, 2012, 4:45 p.m., Posted by Jose C. Zamora

Note: To apply for the News Challenge, and read our FAQ, visit

Since announcing the first topic for the 2012 Knight News Challenge last week, we’ve received a lot of questions about whether winners will have to release their code as open source.  The short answer is no, but there’s a bit more to it than that. Here’s an explanation of where we’re coming from, and where the challenge is headed on this issue.

In the first three years of the contest, all challenge projects were required to develop their projects using open source software. Since the Knight News Challenge is a giant research and development project aiming to accelerate media innovation, using open source makes sense.

However, in response to requests from the community, we have worked to find additional funding mechanisms that allow for less strict or no open source requirements. This does not mean that we dropped the open source requirement, but rather that we created new opportunities that allow us to uncover ideas, and innovators, that we don’t have or know. The new funding mechanisms below allow Knight to fund businesses, individuals and nonprofits. Each one has different open source requirements. We started using some of them in years four and five of the contest.