At the 2012 MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference (livestream here), the winners of the latest round of the Knight News Challenge have just been announced. This is the first go-round since the News Challenge’s reboot earlier this year, which aimed to both quicken the pace and give applicants a focus. Instead of one competition a year, Knight now runs three; instead of a (relatively) open call for applications, it now asks for ideas tied to a broad theme — in this case, networks.
With the split into three, there are fewer winners to be announced today than in past KNC cycles. But my unscientific observation was that the general quality of applications was up; the 52 entries that made it to the first cut seemed particularly strong and drew on what felt like a broader base of applicants than previous rounds had. (While the application process allowed for audience voting, democracy has its limits; none of the five most popular entries among the crowd ended up winning. Also, full disclosure: Knight is a funder of the Nieman Journalism Lab.)
One item of note: For the first time, Knight isn’t sharing the funding amounts for two News Challenge winners. That’s because they’re being funded through the foundation’s Knight Enterprise Fund, which operates as an early-stage venture fund for for-profit ventures, rather than through straight grants. (We wrote recently about Knight’s similar investment in Umbel.) So today’s funding total is somewhere north of $1.37 million. The four grantees for whom we do know the amounts were all between $320,000 and $360,000.
Without further ado, here are today’s six winners. We’ll have fuller profiles of each over the next couple of days. And meanwhile, the second News Challenge of the year is well underway. The theme this time is data, and time’s running short: The deadline to enter is noon Eastern on June 21 — that’s Thursday. (Even if you don’t plan on entering, check out the description just to see use of the word “datasexuals.”) The topic of the third round this year hasn’t been chosen yet, Knight CEO Alberto Ibargüen just said from the stage.
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.