Today, we are at the Knight – MIT Civic Media conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts to celebrate the winners of the Knight News Challenge. The Knight News Challenge winners are a group of 19 projects that will share $3.4 million in grants to address the diversity of issues impacting the free and open Web: from privacy and free expression to expanding the diversity of the tech workforce to improving digital access and connecting communities. They represent the best ideas from nonprofit organizations to start-up creative agencies; from Silicon Valley to London to Eastern Europe.
The Knight News Challenge sparked a conversation about how to strengthen the Internet, enabling us to tap into innovation, creativity, and substantive discussion among all stakeholders. Together with the Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation, we joined together to issue a call to the Mozilla community and beyond: Send your breakthrough ideas to strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation.
Identifying these innovative projects required an innovative process and a robust discussion. Indeed, the Knight News Challenge itself is a breakthrough model, surfacing the best, most innovative approaches to addressing society’s most pressing problems.
Through the News Challenge, we unleashed creative ideas from nearly 800 builders and makers throughout the world. To identify the winners, we engaged with leading thinkers at the intersection of open Web advocacy, journalism, and technology. Indeed, the competition created a robust discussion about what’s needed to protect the Internet.
We are at a pivotal moment for the Web. Threats to the Web’s openness and accessibility are intensifying. From governments using the Web to engage in mass surveillance to policies that undermine the accessibility of the Web, we are faced with unique challenges. Will the Web remain a shared, global resource that is accessible to all? How will people throughout the world be able to express themselves safely and securely?
What’s clear is that answering these questions will require a substantive, inclusive discussion. And it will require the innovation and forward thinking of people everywhere. Let us all celebrate the winners of the Knight News Challenge and look to how their projects advance and protect the free and open Web.