How did misinformation spread during the 2016 presidential election and has anything changed since? A new study of more than 10 million tweets from 700,000 Twitter accounts that linked to more than 600 misinformation and conspiracy news outlets answers this question.

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  • Article

    As news deserts expand, new approaches to local news are taking root

    October 16, 2018 by Karen Rundlet

    As news deserts expand, new approaches to local news are taking root

    If news and information are part of the fabric of democracy, then the fabric of U.S. democracy is in tatters. That’s the conclusion that leaps off the map in the 2018 The Expanding News Deserts report, which shows that 171 U.S. counties do not have a local newspaper, and nearly half all counties – 1,449 – have only one newspaper, usually a weekly.

    The report by Penelope Muse Abernathy, Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina, shines the light on a silent phenomenon, the disappearance of 1,800 newspapers since 2004, and drop by half of the number of reporters covering local news. 

  • Article

    Why combatting fake news requires people and technology — working together

    October 11, 2018 by Sam Gill

    Why combatting fake news requires people and technology — working together

    A map reflecting Twitter activity surrounding fake and conspiracy news stories among the most followed accounts around the 2016 presidential election. Read "Disinformation, 'Fake News' and Influencer Campaigns on Twitter."

    Concerns about the spread of misinformation online have raced into crisis mode.

  • Article

    Why Knight Foundation is investing in a new field of study on informed society in a digital age

    October 1, 2018 by Sam Gill

    Why Knight Foundation is investing in a new field of study on informed society in a digital age

    Strong democracies depend on freedom of expression and access to accurate information about community and public affairs. This is as true today as when freedom of the press was enshrined by the framers of the U.S. Constitution in the first correction they made to the governing principles of our country — what we call the First Amendment.

  • Article

    What we need to know to improve diversity in newsrooms

    September 26, 2018 by LaSharah Bunting

    What we need to know to improve diversity in newsrooms

    News organizations have come to understand this important truth: a deep relationship with readers leads to improved trust, stronger journalism and sustainable business. Yet that authentic connection can be difficult to establish when newsroom leaders and staff don’t reflect the communities they serve.

    Diversity in newsrooms is among the biggest challenges facing the industry, yet the commitment to tackling this problem is often insufficient or nonexistent. News organizations can’t begin to offer viable solutions if they don’t fully understand, or acknowledge, the extent and scope of the problem. And, as journalists know, to thoroughly interpret any important issue, you must begin with the data.

    Last week the American Society of News Editors announced it was extending the deadline to Oct. 12 for its annual newsroom diversity survey because only 234 out of nearly 1,700 newspapers and digital media outlets responded to the request to submit data this year. In response, Knight Foundation joined Ford Foundation, Democracy Fund, Lenfest Institute and many other funders in releasing a joint statement calling on newsrooms to respond with urgency and submit their employment data. These foundations also announced they will now require annual completion of the ASNE survey for journalism grantees going forward. 

  • Article

    Four ways cities can make great urban trails: Lessons from the Beltline

    August 24, 2018 by Lilly Weinberg

    Four ways cities can make great urban trails: Lessons from the Beltline

    Photo by J.C. Burns on Flickr.

    Cities across the country – big and small – are investing in linear parks and urban trails. Communities are prioritizing these important and substantial investments for a variety of important reasons: they effectively connect public assets - like parks and libraries - with diverse neighborhoods; activate underused spaces (think New York City’s High Line crafted from a former rail line); and spur economic development in nearby areas.

    But designing, promoting and funding linear parks can be challenging, often spanning miles of multiple municipalities, costing hundreds of millions of dollars, with support from complicated funding models. 

    So, what happens when three unique cities get together to talk about their signature linear parks and trails? A whole lot of learning. Knight Foundation funded an information exchange between two Knight cities, Lexington, Ky. and Miami, and Atlanta to do just that . Last month, a team from The Friends of The Underline (a 10-mile linear path in Miami-Dade) and Townbranch Commons (a 3-mile linear trail and park in downtown Lexington) met in Atlanta to have a deep-dive exchange about their future projects with the city’s Beltline team. As many know, Atlanta’s Beltline is a multi-billion dollar, 22-mile light rail and bike/pedestrian trail that has transformed the communities it passes through. While most community members love their Beltline, not everyone is thrilled. We wanted to hear it all: the good, bad and indifferent. And while we came from very different communities with unique projects, we had four shared takeaways.

  • Article

    Placing people at the center of San Jose

    August 16, 2018 by Daniel Harris

    Placing people at the center of San Jose

    Photo by Danny Harris.

    As one travels across San Jose’s sprawling 180-square-mile landscape, it’s hard to believe this is America’s tenth most populous city. The low-rise suburban city hosts seemingly endless single-family homes, strip malls, freeways and suburban office parks, but too few vibrant and well-used public spaces that welcome and celebrate our one million residents. 

    In San Jose, Knight seeks to change that by creating one of the nation’s most engaged cities driven by a focus on public life — drawing people out of their cars and homes and into the community. In doing so, we aim to place people at the center of the city’s present and future. By helping to build a San Jose for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities, we aim to create a vibrant and welcoming city that makes being out and in public irresistible and celebrates the collision of diverse people and ideas. 

  • Article

    Should platforms be regulated? A new survey says yes.

    August 15, 2018 by Sam Gill

    Should platforms be regulated? A new survey says yes.

    In the two years since the 2016 election, the role major social media and technology companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter play in enabling (or corroding) an informed society has become an issue of increasing concern.

    It is well known at this stage that these platforms are a key destination for news. They regularly make decisions about who gets to provide information and who gets to see it. But as misinformation infects newsfeeds, and information echo chambers become the norm, should there be rules that govern their role as news editors?

    A new survey says yes — almost eight in 10 Americans agree that these companies should be subject to the same rules and regulations as newspapers and television networks that are responsible for the content they publish. The survey is part of a series of reports released by Knight Foundation and Gallup over the course of the year exploring American perceptions of trust, media and democracy.

  • Article

    Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative announces $750,000 challenge on news and information quality

    August 6, 2018 by Tim Hwang and Paul Cheung

    Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative announces $750,000 challenge  on news and information quality

    We’re excited to announce that next month, we will launch an open call for ideas aimed at shaping the influence artificial intelligence (AI) has on the field of news and information. The challenge asks an overarching question: How might we ensure that the use of artificial intelligence in the news ecosystem be done ethically and in the public interest?

  • Article

    Three lessons in designing cities for everyone

    August 6, 2018 by Suzanne Nienaber

    Three lessons in designing cities for everyone

    Photo: A young resident gives their input on shaping civic life in Charlotte at a pop-up event at Eastland Mall. Courtesy of the Center for Active Design. 

    A groundbreaking playbook from the Center for Active Design is sparking conversations among residents on how to shape civic life and create fantastic public spaces in their cities.  

  • Article

    How can democracy thrive in the digital age?

    July 30, 2018 by Sam Gill

    How can democracy thrive in the digital age?

    Photo by ydant on Flickr.

    In the wake of revelations that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica improperly used Facebook data to influence the 2016 election, scrutiny of the social media giant continues. In the past month, Facebook has been hit with information requests from an alphabet soup of federal agencies ­— the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

    But the issue is about more than Facebook and has implications beyond breaches and rights to privacy. We’re experiencing a sea change in our relationship to a relatively small set of companies. Just a few brands — Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon — occupy many of our waking hours.

    They are where most of us entertain ourselves. They are where we meet and converse with friends. They are how many of us shop. They are where political debate is happening. The reality is that it’s harder and harder to transact our social, commercial and political lives in any kind of “offline” fashion.

    This matters for our democracy. The way we inform ourselves about public affairs has moved from the morning paper and evening news to a constant stream of mobile alerts. Political debates have shifted from in-person affairs to pseudonymous shouting matches. Our expectations for government and other institutions have shifted to an internet standard — any service that doesn’t deliver with Amazon Prime or Netflix levels of instantaneity is frustrating and obsolete.

  • Article

    Reinventing a 97-year-old science news organization

    July 11, 2018 by Nancy Shute

    Reinventing a 97-year-old science news organization

    Photo by Society for Science & the Public.

    Four years ago, Science News was on the ropes. It was founded by newspaper magnate E.W. Scripps in 1921 to provide accurate news of science, technology and medicine to the general public. But over the past decade, Science News had lost millions of dollars. Print circulation was shrinking, ad sales were dismal, and the organization’s digital operations were starved for resources despite growing audiences.

  • Article

    Four ways cities can use augmented reality games like Pokémon GO to bolster civic engagement

    June 28, 2018 by Sam Gill and Lilian Coral

    Four ways cities can use augmented reality games like Pokémon GO to bolster civic engagement

    Akron, Ohio, residents explore downtown using Pokémon GO. Photo by Tim Fitzwater.

    In summer 2016, Pokémon GO took the world by storm. Large crowds teemed in public spaces around the globe at all hours. We saw a prime opportunity to learn more about how our society, and its ubiquitous digital technology, might further spark public life in the communities where we work.

  • Article

    Speak up for a people-first San José

    June 20, 2018 by Daniel Harris

    Speak up for a people-first San José

    Veggielution First Friday. Photo by Danny Harris on Twitter.

    In San José, Knight seeks to create one of the nation’s most engaged cities. We seek to place people at the center of the city’s present and future. From walkable and bikeable neighborhoods to more user-friendly design of city services to building vibrant public spaces for all, Knight’s work aims to help San Joseans fall in love with and work in support of their city every day.

    To advance these efforts, Knight is launching Speak Up San José, a yearlong initiative that invites all residents for conversation and action to advance our city’s future. Specifically, the foundation is committing $150,000 to sixteen community groups to host 28 events over the coming twelve months. From community dinners to street parties to salons, each event is conceived by local organizations, community groups and neighborhood know-it-alls to advance locally relevant issues. Most importantly, every event is free, open to the public and/or engages a diverse group of individuals, and built around a specific action point.

  • Article

    How Americans really feel about the media

    June 20, 2018 by David Askenazi

    How Americans really feel about the media

    “Trust in media at all-time lows” is a headline we have, unfortunately, become accustomed to. As a foundation that cares about creating more informed and engaged communities, it’s also unacceptable. So earlier this year, Knight Foundation, as part of a larger initiative, partnered with Gallup to look at Americans’ changing opinions of the Fourth Estate.

  • Article

    Philadelphia: Building a stronger city through public spaces

    May 24, 2018 by Patrick J. Morgan

    Philadelphia: Building a stronger city through public spaces

    Photo by Garen M. on Flickr.

    Philadelphia’s public spaces are experiencing a resurgence. From recently opened Lovett Library Park to excitement around the soon to be open Cherry Street Pier, new investments in these community centerpieces have created deeper connections between people and their city and invited a cross-section of residents to participate in building the kind of neighborhoods where they want to live.