Knight Foundation Competition Will Award Millions

$5 Million ‘Knight Brothers 21st Century News Challenge’

MIAMI — The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today launches the Knight Brothers 21st Century News Challenge, investing as much as $5 million in its first year in community news projects that best use the digital world to connect people to the real world.

The News Challenge is looking to fund new ideas, prototypes, products and leadership initiatives that use innovative news methods to help citizens better connect within their communities.

The competition is open to anyone, not just the journalism community.

“News and information are the glue that binds communities. We want to help today’s high-tech news do in the 21st century what the Knight brothers’ newspapers did this past century,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation.

“Through their newspapers, the Knight brothers helped build a sense of community in cities and towns across the country. They did it by providing news, information and commentary that helped citizens understand their common interests and opportunities. The Knight brothers helped define the geography where people lived. We want to continue that tradition using new media to do what the brothers used to do with ink on paper," said Ibargüen.

If the quality of entries warrant it, the foundation may spend as much as $25 million during the next five years in the search for bold community news experiments.

“We’d like to encourage the newest ways for people to pursue a great American tradition: the fair, accurate, contextual search for the truth,” said Eric Newton, Knight’s director of Journalism Initiatives. “We want to help the citizens of this new century get the news they need to run their governments and their lives.”

The Challenge web site, with an online application form, is at www.newschallenge.org. The competition will accept applications through Dec. 31, and expects to begin announcing winners in the spring of 2007.

The foundation and its special panel of new media advisors will look for innovative proposals that contain a unique combination of vision, courage and know-how in their ability to use cyberspace to better connect people to the physical space where they live and work.

Cell phone documentaries? New operating software for news collectors? Journalism games? Nothing is too far out to qualify.

“We hesitate to set too many rules,” said Knight journalism program officer Gary Kebbel, “because we expect the best entries will be ideas that totally surprise us.”

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes journalism excellence worldwide and invests in the vitality of U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since its creation in 1950, the foundation has invested nearly $300 million to advance journalism quality and freedom of expression. For more on Knight’s work, visit www.knightfdn.org.

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.