Knight Foundation reorganizes to accelerate media innovation and adoption of digital journalism tools

New appointments, positions strengthen teams focusingĀ on media experimentation and newsroom transformation

MIAMI—Sept. 24, 2014 – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has expanded and reorganized its journalism and media innovation staff to accelerate media innovation and increase the adoption of digital tools by newsrooms.

John S. Bracken was promoted to vice president/media innovation, leading the team that will accelerate the pace of funding of media experimentation. Knight Foundation also promoted Chris Barr to director/media innovation. Barr manages the Knight Prototype Fund, which has become an important part of Knight strategy as it allows for the rapid testing and iteration of ideas.

A second vice president, for journalism, will lead the team focused on the adoption of innovative digital tools and techniques in newspaper, TV, radio and Internet newsrooms. The new position will be filled in the next several weeks. Joining Knight Foundation as director/journalism is Shazna Nessa, a former Associated Press deputy managing editor and a recent John S. Knight journalism fellow at Stanford University. Marie Gilot was promoted to journalism program officer.

“John Bracken, with his unparalleled network of innovators, is ideally positioned to lead our growth in media innovation, focusing on new applications and ways to deliver news and information to communities,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation. “By focusing strictly on ways to deliver information and engagement, we’ll also be free to explore ways to inform and engage communities through our Arts and Community and National Initiatives.”

The organizational shifts come as Michael Maness steps down as vice president/journalism and media innovation after more than three years at Knight to become the first innovator-in-residence for the Digital Initiative at the Harvard Business School. He will continue to consult for Knight Foundation.

Since joining Knight in 2010, Bracken has overseen the signature Knight News Challenge and the creation of the Prototype Fund, among other initiatives. He has more than 12 years experience as a philanthropic investor in digital media, media policy and innovation, having previously worked at the Ford and MacArthur foundations.

“This reorganization enables Knight Foundation to better take advantage of the opportunities we’re seeing both inside and outside of traditional journalism,” said Bracken. “We are excited to increase our work with newsrooms, and increase our ability to learn from and support the makers, designers and writers who are building and refining emergent tools and behaviors in media.”

Nessa brings to Knight 15 years’ experience in journalism, Internet technology and interactive design. Before her year as a JSK fellow at Stanford, she was deputy managing editor at AP in New York, overseeing editorial products and innovation. She was part of the team that launched the website of the business magazine Conde Nast Portfolio, and has taught at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York.

Barr previously served as an assistant professor of graphic design at West Virginia University. He has worked as a designer for a variety of organizations to combine technology development and design thinking. Barr holds a Master of Fine Arts in media study from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a bachelor's degree in fine art from West Virginia University.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.KnightFoundation.org.

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Contact: Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, Knight Foundation

    305-908-2677, media@knightfoundation.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.