Knight Blog

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

Philadelphia celebrates its BME Leadership Award Winners

Feb. 29, 2012, 3:22 p.m., Posted by Donna Frisby-Greenwood

Award-winning actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, Mayor Michael A. Nutter and other leaders helped celebrate the winners of the BME Leadership Award in Philadelphia Monday night.

The award is given to black men who step up to lead and engage others in their community. The honor comes with a combined $243,000 for the winners to reward their work and inspire others to step forward. The funding will provide outreach to recent returning war vets by Vietnam Vets, provide after-school programming and therapy for autistic children, explore the experience of black men through a theater performance and more.





Knight Foundation and its partners in Technology for Engagement attend TED2012

Feb. 28, 2012, 3:21 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

By Brett Hudson

My colleagues and I who are part of Knight’s Technology for Engagement Initiative are at the TED conference this week in Long Beach, Calif.  TED convenes some of the greatest minds around the globe to explore ways to foster a more informed, collaborative and innovative society.  

These goals are at the core of Knight’s Tech for Engagement Initiative, which funds digital technologies that inspire civic dialogue and collective community action. Leaders of several of our funded projects are participating in TED.

On Monday, Eric Gordon, who leads Community PlanIt, an online engagement platform for local planning efforts, led Knight’s TED Master Class called “3 Tools for Democracy in the Digital Age.” The class included a lively discussion with the TED Community on tools that place citizens at the center of decision-making in their communities.

Paula Ellis, vice president/strategic initiatives at Knight Foundation, who led the master class, reports:

Knight News Challenge Networks: Open is better

Feb. 28, 2012, 10:40 a.m., Posted by John Bracken


Photo Credit: Flickr User Jason A. Samfield

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

A friend recently wrote that “open-source licenses are one of the most confusing things on the planet.” We see a need to better explain the open source rules for the Knight News Challenge, and our rationale for developing them. A couple of recent Twitter threads make it clear that there are outstanding questions about our policies.

At Knight Foundation, we are fans of open source software. Our mission as a foundation is to inform and engage communities. We want the tools and platforms that we fund to be widely used. We believe projects built using open source code are more likely to spread, and be built upon, than those that rely upon proprietary software. Panda and Overview , two projects supported through the 2011 News Challenge, are now open for developers to work on.  Earlier this month, our collaboration with Mozilla Foundation relaunched as OpenNews, and “is about helping journalism thrive on the open Web.” All told, we’ve provided support to some 76 open source projects since the News Challenge launched in 2007.

One criteria we use when selecting Knight News Challenge winners is potential social impact. We think that the use of open source code is a key part of achieving that impact. However, as my colleague Jose Zamora recently wrote (and as the head in the wall points out partway through this video), we will also accept proposals that use other licenses or proprietary code. To be clear: we prefer projects that are open source. But if you or your company have a rationale for a non-open source project, we will consider it.

Each year, we receive questions, and criticism, about our use of the General Public License. This year, some have again argued that we have chosen the wrong open source license. For now, GPL is the standard license we’ve selected to offer to our grantees.  We are also open to consider other licenses on a case-by-case basis.