The last two decades have brought fundamental and increasingly rapid change in the way information is created, published and disseminated. Communities have noticed a decline in the breadth, quality and relevance of traditional local news sources and investigative reporting. Commercial radio has almost entirely exited local news reporting and both printed daily newspaper readership and broadcast television news viewership have decreased dramatically. This massive media upheaval is endangering sources of information that have been essential to communities in a democracy.
At the same time, however, new models, tools and technologies are emerging at a staggering pace. Communities are experiencing the rise of new information sources, including online news sites from traditional news organizations and citizen journalists, as well as Twitter feeds from local political candidates and social networking websites for local PTA members. In general, citizens are increasingly involved in the co-creation of this information. These developments hold great promise, even if they are not yet fully understood or adopted in communities. The online public appears to be participating and engaging in new ways, with individuals moving from passive consumers of information to active contributors to information. In theory, at least, underserved communities can have a voice in ways previously unimagined. Perhaps best of all, the cost to create and publish information continues to drop. Yet news consumers in this new sea of information risk relying on sources that are neither credible nor comprehensive, and participation in online media is unevenly distributed, with marginalized populations continuing to lose out.
Amidst this sea-change scenario one thing is clear – the future community information landscape will critically impact the health and vitality of our communities.
This brief explores how, through the Knight Community Information Challenge, community and place-based foundations are incorporating community information needs into their work for the benefit both of their communities and their own strategies and missions.
To develop open-source software allowing "real-time advertising" that can be updated at any time by local business using social media
For the ACTion Network, a public issues online forum where problems are posted, debated and citizens decide on what actions to take in response
To use cellular phones and other technologies to alert Latino youth to the importance of census participation
To make GablesHomePage.com an information source for news by and about mature citizens of the area
To create a digital platform for engaging the seven-county region in development and use of greenways and green spaces they share
To expand reporting capacity of Florida health news coverage in Tallahassee, Bradenton and Miami
To create an investigative journalism news site called The Florida Independent
To support "YouChoose Bay Area" (a.k.a. Envision Bay Area), an effort to reduce carbon emissions in California using the Internet, public radio and public television to inform the community
To deliver relevant content through new media channels targeted to 18-30 year olds who have not attended college
To bridge ethnic, economic and especially generational lines to raise digital literacy among seniors, enhancing their participation in civic dialogue
To use a multifaceted approach to address information needs of overlooked populations in a college town
To support the reporting depth and on-line reach of this award-winning, quarterly journal of MassINC, a non-profit, Boston think-tank
To transform a proven innovation into a national model for community foundations to utilize and inspire citizens to lead change
To introduce donors to funding news coverage at the high-quality MinnPost.com
To spread a deeper understanding of key community issues and challenges by engaging citizens in problem solving efforts
To create a place where the community can measure its environmental footprint and compare it with peers globally
To create a vital online news report for five close-knit towns in Connecticut's Lower Naugatuck Valley
To establish four neighborhood bureaus that will generate thorough written, video and audio journalism about the community
To create a central site where critical dialogue about the community is aggregated, archived, indexed and disseminated
To position the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties as a civic leader by extending their management of Knight Foundation's community guideline
We invest in civic innovators who help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of engagement.
As part of our grant-making process, we work with grantees to establish how to measure and track their projects. We also partner with grantees and others to conduct third-party evaluations.