Knight Foundation Media Innovation Contest Opens For Entries

Deadline is December 1; Contest receives added prize money from Google; introduces new categories

MIAMI (OCT. 26, 2010) – Miami – The fifth year of the Knight News Challenge, a media innovation contest funded and run by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, has opened for applications. The deadline is December 1.

Knight Foundation offers $5 million each year in cash awards for ideas to use digital platforms to deliver news and information to geographically defined communities.  For the first time this year, the Knight News Challenge will focus on four categories: Mobile, Authenticity, Sustainability and Community.

Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen talks about Google's donation of $2 million to support Knight Foundation's media innovation efforts.

Also for the first time, a grant from Google Inc. to Knight Foundation will be partially used to increase the prize money by $1 million.  The donation is part of a $2 million grant to support Knight Foundation’s media innovation initiatives.  

"The use of new categories is an effort to harness and accelerate the entrepreneurial energy we are seeing in the field," said John S. Bracken, Knight Foundation’s Director of Digital Media. “We have incorporated what we learned over the first four years of the News Challenge to focus this year on four key issues.”

“The Knight News Challenge has inspired entrepreneurs and journalism futurists for the past four years,” said Chris Gaither, Google’s senior manager for news industry relations. “We’re thrilled to be supporting this year’s competition, especially with its focus on four categories -- mobile, sustainability, authenticity and community -- that are so important to the Internet and society.”

“Google’s support is an indication of how important this effort might be to the future of media.  We are delighted with their support,” said Eric Newton, vice president of Knight Foundation’s journalism program.

The Knight News Challenge seeks innovation in the use of digital technologies that advance the foundation's goal of informing and engaging communities. In its first four years, $23 million has been awarded or committed to 56 media innovators chosen from more than 10,000 entries.

Individuals, schools, nonprofits, governments and businesses all may enter.

Through the Mobile category, the 2011 News Challenge seeks innovative ideas for news and information on all types of mobile communication devices. In the Authenticity category, the contest offers funding for projects that help people better understand the reliability of news and information sources. The Sustainability category is for consideration of new economic models supporting news and information that helps citizens run their communities and their lives. The Community category seeks groundbreaking technologies that support news and information specifically within defined geographic areas.

In the Mobile, Authenticity and Sustainability categories, the foundation prefers media innovation entries with a community focus, Bracken said. However, in the Community category a place-based focus is a requirement. Entries have to detail in what specific geographic community the media innovation will be tested.

Software produced by the contest winners has to be open-source.

Scores of news organizations, including some of America's most prestigious, are using tools supported through the News Challenge. Previous winners include new models to engage readers in journalistic decision-making and funding (, new ways to examine original documents and link them to news stories (Document Cloud with ProPublica and the New York Times), new approaches to verifying the authenticity of information (Media Standards Trust with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web) and new ways to visualize information (Patchwork Nation with The News Hour).

To apply visit or follow @knightfdn and #knc on Twitter.

Entrants need only to fill out a brief form to submit an application. Experts in news, communities and technology will help the foundation review entries. Knight Foundation staff will make the final recommendations and its trustees will make the final decisions on the awards. The foundation will announce winners in June 2011 at its meeting of digital media grantees, held annually at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Foundation staff will field questions about the News Challenge throughout the application period, starting with an online chat at noon EST Oct. 26. Visit to participate in the chat and ask questions.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit


Marc Fest, Vice President of Communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677;

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