American Public Media Awarded Grant to Expand Public Insight Journalism

Map: Stories informed by Seattle public radio station KUOW-FM's public insight network.

(St. Paul, Minn.)—American Public Media, the country’s second-largest producer of national programs for public radio, announced today it has received a $2.95 million, three-year grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to support American Public Media’s Public Insight Journalism.

American Public Media’s Public Insight Journalism is a system that brings together the knowledge and insight of tens of thousands of citizen sources to help make journalists better informed, more connected to the communities they serve and able to produce more powerful and trusted stories. 

Public Insight Journalism uses the radio, the Web, and face-to-face meetings to invite people into its growing Public Insight Network of citizen sources.   More than 70,000 people have already joined.  Public Insight Journalism uses software to track their expertise and experience and request their help on stories. Then specialized reporters known as Public Insight Analysts distill and fact-check the sources and their knowledge for use in reporting. Public Insight Journalism doesn’t just use them as sources, but as partners in journalism, by inviting people to help set the agenda of what stories will be covered.

American Public Media pioneered Public Insight Journalism in its Minnesota Public Radio newsroom and is now using the model to inform coverage on its national shows, including Marketplace and Speaking of Faith.  Additional information about Public Insight Journalism is available at http://americanpublicmedia.publicradio.org/cij/.

Specifically, the grant will help American Public Media expand Public Insight Journalism in the following key areas:

  • Seek up to 15 additional media partners nationwide;
  • Evaluate the composition of the Public Insight Network to enhance the quality of the database;
  • Strengthen the technical infrastructure of the Public Insight Network to better serve partners by assuring the reliability and vitality of the network;
  • Produce a working version of the Audience Insight Repository (AIR) system—the underlying software of the Public Insight Network—under an open source license;
  • Assess the impact of Public Insight Journalism on both media partners and audiences;
  • Connect with journalism schools to promote a new model for newsgathering; and
  • Form a national advisory board by recruiting diverse professionals from journalism, media technology, civic engagement and academia.

“We’re very grateful to the Knight Foundation. This grant allows us to take this concept to the next level and share it with more news organizations,” said Chris Worthington, who directs American Public Media’s Public Insight Journalism venture and also oversees news operations and programming for Minnesota Public Radio. “American Public Media and Knight share the same vision: Journalism made vital because it has been informed by people who have first-hand insight and expertise. These days, those are the stories that cut through the noise.”

"Public Insight Journalism combines the values of traditional journalism with the technique of crowdsourcing, that is seeking information from the audience," said Gary Kebbel, Knight Foundation's Journalism Program Director. "By leveraging the expertise of the audience, news organizations are able to produce stories that are richer, smarter and more insightful."

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation invests in journalism excellence worldwide and in the vitality of U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950, the foundation has granted more than $400 million to advance quality journalism and freedom of expression. Knight Foundation focuses on projects with the potential to create transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

About American Public Media

American Public Media™ is the nation's second-largest producer of public radio programs, reaching 15.9 million listeners nationwide each week. National programs include A Prairie Home Companion®, Weekend America®, Saint Paul Sunday®, Marketplace®, Marketplace Money®, The Splendid Table®, Speaking of Faith® and special reports produced by its national documentary unit, American RadioWorks®.  American Public Media is the parent organization for Minnesota Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio and Classical South Florida. A complete list of stations, programs and additional services can be found at www.americanpublicmedia.org.

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Source: Data are copyright Arbitron, Inc. Arbitron data are estimates only. Fall 2007/Spring 2008 average

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

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.