Knight Blog

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

FCC, Knight and other philanthropic and business leaders launch national effort to ensure greater Internet adoption for more Americans

Oct. 12, 2011, 9:26 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation


By Paula Ellis, VP/Strategic Initiatives

The Internet is no longer a luxury item. It’s an essential tool for all Americans, whether they are looking for jobs, better educational opportunities or quality health care.

Yet still, one-third of all Americans— 100 million people – have not adopted broadband high-speed Internet at home, the Pew Research Center has found. Simply put, they, and their families, are being left behind.

That's why today, the Federal Communications Commission in partnership with Knight and other nonprofit and business leaders, is launching Connect to Compete, which will make the Internet accessible and relevant to more Americans by reducing service costs, expanding digital literacy training and making the Internet more relevant to people's lives.

Achieving wide-scale adoption requires that the Internet be useful. That’s why this effort also focuses on developing relevant, practical ways to use the Internet for daily living. For example, a mom might use it to help her child with his homework, or her husband search or train for a job.

Knight will help guide the effort by participating on the Connect to Compete advisory council, and by providing funding for a planning grant to One Economy to create this public-private partnership. The foundation’s support is a continuation of its commitment to universal access. Since 2005, the foundation has invested more than $18 million, first in broadband infrastructure in several communities including Akron, Philadelphia, Detroit and Miami and more recently in digital literacy and adoption.


Would nutrition labels work for news?

Oct. 11, 2011, 9:51 a.m., Posted by Eric Newton

Matt Stempeck, research assistant at the MIT Center for Civic Media, recently asked the question: “What If We Had a Nutrition Label For News”?

His call for feedback prompted a response from Eric Newton, senior advisor to the president at Knight Foundation, who equates the fundamental nutritional elements of food directly to their counterparts in news.

Newton wrote:

Congratulations for taking on this fantastic topic. Anyone who can break down and communicate the nutritional value of news will be an American hero.

As you note, the idea of a food label for news has been kicking around for a long time. I first started talking about it nearly 15 years ago with some other folks at the Newseum in various programs we had in the broadcast studios there. I got some bits on the record five years ago in the book Mega Media, and most recently I wrote “Junk-food news turning us into fat-heads” in the Miami Herald.

We've known for ages that words are food for the mind. The devil is in the details. Every previous effort I've seen has failed to properly unwind the metaphor. Listing the various failures may not be as helpful as talking aspirationally about the real goal.

What we really need is a food label not so much on each news outlet but on each news story. (ie, Marissa Mayer's point at Google about the new unit of organization of news being the story, not the outlet).

Finalists announced in challenge to find new models of local arts coverage and criticism

Oct. 10, 2011, 8:50 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

This summer, 233 ideas for new models of local arts coverage and criticism were submitted as part of the first-ever Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge. The challenge focused on the eight communities where Knight Foundation invests.Today, Knight Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts announced the five finalists who will have the opportunity to create an Idea to Action plan for their idea to inform and engage audiences in the arts.

You can watch the announcement live at 1 p.m. EDT/10 a.m. via a live webcast, straight from the Grantmakers in the Arts conference in San Francisco. Follow @knightfdn on Twitter for updates during the session on Monday and join the conversation using the hashtag #artsjourn.

Several themes run through the finalist’s projects, including partnerships between traditional and new media and ways to foster greater participation from cultural art lovers.