Knight Blog

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

How one community foundation funded a new journalism powerhouse

Feb. 24, 2012, 12:42 p.m., Posted by Lisa Williams

Declining ad revenue and a tough economy led to hard times for news organizations in New Jersey.  Rounds of layoffs at the Star-Ledger - which is one of the primary sources of news from New Jersey's statehouse - had led to deep cuts in coverage of important public policy issues.  

But could a small organization - with a website and a staff of four - really make a difference?  


Reporter John Mooney - who had spent many years covering New Jersey's statehouse as a reporter and Hans Dekker of the New Jersey Community Foundation - were willing to give it a try.  

Only a week after the site launched, the Spotlight reporting team published a story about misuse of funds at a public utility company that triggered a state Attorney General investigation.  

Success had its own rewards and challenges, says Dekker.  "One of the challenges of funding a journalism organization is that you might end up funding coverage that makes some donors uncomfortable."  

Community Information Challenge application is a two-stage process

Feb. 24, 2012, 9:06 a.m., Posted by Michele McLellan


The Knight Community Information Challenge requires a short initial application. Then selected applicants are invited to submit a longer, more detailed proposal.

The initial application, due Feb. 27, must be completed online and gives us enough summary information to understand the idea.

If we like your idea, you will be invited to complete a full proposal with more detail on how you plan to implement it and what it will cost.

7 questions on the new Knight News Challenge application

Feb. 23, 2012, 1:44 p.m., Posted by Jose C. Zamora

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

On Monday, we will open the Knight News Challenge on networks. Just as we have revamped the contest, we have come up with a more streamlined application form.

As John explained in our first post and in this video, the challenge is evolving to be offered three times this year, an attempt to be more nimble and move at the pace of technology development.

Along with this new focus, we have simplified the application form. Based on conversations with previous News Challenge applicants and outside reviewers, we devised the following seven questions.

  1. What do you propose to do? [20 words]
  2. Is anyone doing something like this now and how is your project different? [30 words]
  3. Describe the network with which you intend to build or work. [50 words]
  4. Why will it work? [100 words]
  5. Who is working on it? [100 words]
  6. What part of the project have you already built? [100 words]
  7. How would you sustain the project after the funding expires? [50 words]