Articles by Anusha Alikhan

  • Article

    Crisis Text Line has grown exponentially. Here’s its formula for success in civic tech.

    November 21, 2017 by Anusha Alikhan

    Crisis Text Line has grown exponentially. Here’s its formula for success in civic tech.

    Knight Foundation recently issued a report with the Rita Allen Foundation on how civic tech startups are seeking sustainability. Knight Foundation’s Anusha Alikhan talked with Baylee Greenberg, former COO of Crisis Text Line, about its experience and growth.

  • Article

    Having uncomfortable conversations: A new communications imperative

    October 13, 2016 by Anusha Alikhan

    Having uncomfortable conversations: A new communications imperative

    Most people are uncomfortable talking about race, discrimination, privilege and power.

    Communications professionals at social good organizations face this problem on many fronts. Inequality is connected to much of the work that foundations and nonprofits do – whether we are focused on criminal justice reform, the state of our schools, or the lack of quality information in a community.

  • Article

    Communities reach beyond digital barriers to share information

    March 12, 2014 by Anusha Alikhan

    sxswpnale

    Photo credit: Anusha Alikhan.

    Lack of broadband access poses a huge barrier to communities all over the world, both shutting people off from news and information, and limiting their ability to speak up. To bridge this divide communities are getting creative. On Monday, a panel of experts at SXSW discussed the many ways people are overcoming the hurdles of limited Web connectivity.

    The panel included Trevor Knoblich, Online News Association digital director; Eliza Anyangwe, editor of the Guardian's Global Development Professionals Network; Sean McDonald, CEO of the Social Impact Lab (SIMLab), the makers of FrontlineSMS and FrontlineCloud; and Kara Andrade, co-founder of HablaCentro LLC, and Not for Profit, which helps people in Latin America become more digitally literate and civically engaged.

    Knoblich opened the panel, “Beyond Connectivity: Sharing News Without the Web,” with some stark statistics on community household broadband access in major U.S. cities; in Baltimore, Miami, New Orleans and Detroit, 40 percent of households do not have broadband. He emphasized that lack of connectivity is not just a developing world issue, but also a “poverty” issue.

     

  • Article

    ONA session proposes new ideas for journalism ed

    October 21, 2013 by Anusha Alikhan

    journalismeducation

    Above: Eric Newton. Photo credit: Anusha Alikhan.

    A workshop during the 2013 Online News Association annual conference in Atlanta brought together about 70 educators to design an ideal j-school program for the digital age.

    Knight Senior Adviser Eric Newton and Texas State University Associate Professor Cindy Royal led the “Hack the Curriculum” panel. Newton introduced the session by asking participants to imagine that they are not teachers but consultants tasked with designing a fantasy curriculum.

    “The point is to gain insights from each other about what you’re doing now and what you can do differently going forward,” he said.

    Seven breakout groups brainstormed around specific themes—from integrating programming and data into classwork to mobile media and entrepreneurial journalism. Themes were pulled from Newton’s just-launched digital book, “Searchlights and Sunglasses, Field Notes From the Digital Age of Journalism,” which calls for a revolution in journalism education.

  • Article

    Todd Cunningham: Investing in media measurement has power to be transformative

    October 11, 2013 by Anusha Alikhan

    Todd Cunningham: Investing in media measurement has power to be transformative

    toddcunninghamIn April, the University of Southern California’s Norman Lear Center announced the launch of a groundbreaking project to discover better ways to understand how media influences people. Supported by $3.35 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Knight Foundation, the Media Impact Project welcomed its first director this week.

    As the lead, Todd Cunningham will introduce a new perspective to the project—melding his 15-year market research career at Viacom, the private media conglomerate, with an academic team of analytics experts and data specialists, as well as leading social change makers.

    According to Cunningham, the diverse group does have one thing in common: They all believe that investing in media measurement has the power to be “transformative.”

    Under Cunningham’s direction, the Media Impact Project will shift into high gear, with “the potential to revolutionize the field” and help social change organizations measure their impact.

    We talked with Cunningham about the Media Impact Project and what he expects to bring to the mix.

    You worked at Viacom for many years focusing on ways to quantify audience engagement. What did you learn about engagement that you can put to work on behalf of the Media Impact Project?

    Gaining a complete understanding of the emotional and behavioral connections that audiences form with video and other content is hard to do. But three lessons do come to mind that can be put to work immediately when measuring engagement:

    • Engagement is actually the first point of participation; it’s not the end game. An essential part of measuring media impact, based on my experience, is discovering what sparks degrees of engagement; of course, when we chart related behavioral changes over time, this becomes even more valuable.  MIP checklist:  on it!
    • Not all content is socially equal. I see assumptions being made all the time that all content is shareable. Guess what, it’s not.  Finding out what is and isn’t socially compelling and why is in short supply - qualitative research is a critical to measuring engagement that is many overlook

    Share the work, share the work, share the work:  The more people in your organization who understand how engagement gets measured, the better.  Moving the measurement industry toward a greater sense of openness regarding approach and insights is a key goal of the Media Impact Project.

  • Article

    Studio developing ideas to harness talent of a changing workforce

    May 14, 2014 by Anusha Alikhan

    Studio developing ideas to harness talent of a changing workforce

    innovators

    Photo credit: Tom Clark.  

    Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen opened Knight’s two-day Civic Innovation in Action Studio Tuesday by reminding participants of the foundation’s roots. Jack Knight’s aspiration for newspapers he said was essentially to provide people with the means “to determine their own interests.” 

    RELATED LINKS

    "Putting ideas into action to build better cities" by Carol Coletta on KnightBlog

    "Learning Lab gathers ideas on promoting community engagement" by Carol Coletta on KnightBlog

    "Learning Lab gathers ideas on making the most of talent in our cities" by Carol Coletta on KnightBlog

    "Boston adopts new tools to engage residents in civic life" by Nigel Jacobs on KnightBlog

    "Scaling an Etsy Economy for a changing workforce" by Dana Mauriello on KnightBlog

    "Harriet Tregoning, identifying ideas to expand opportunities in cities" by Carol Coletta KnightBlog

    "Encouraging more robuts acts of citizenship" by Adam Royalty and Scott Witthoft on KnightBlog

    "Studio explores ideas for successful cities" by Carol Coletta on KnightBlog

    "Civic innovators gather in Miami to build ideas for successful cities" by Michael Bolden on KnightBlog

    "Innovators embrace broad themes of robust engagement" by Andrew Sherry on KnightBlog

    "Innovators develop ideas on advancing opportunity" by Michael Bolden on KnightBlog

    “This is an important thought to keep in mind as we engineer change in communities,” said Ibargüen.

    Perhaps the most important determinant of individual interests is the work that people do. Yet communities are increasingly faced with an outdated employment system—stacked in favor of a 9-to-5, stable, low-risk work culture—that has since been disrupted. To tackle this challenge more than 30 civic innovators came together as part of the “Harnessing Talent” discussion on day one of the studio. Participants included government officials, human resources professionals, design and co-working experts, business executives, as well as consultants and freelancers.

    Together they considered the demands posed by an increasingly mobile, tech-driven labor force that includes a growing number of independent workers, from self-employed tech consultants and freelancers to Lyft drivers and Esty makers crafting a new shared economy. 

    They explored several questions:

    • Who is the target of a city’s economic development efforts if more than 20 percent of its workers are self-employed?
    • What type of support do solo entrepreneurs need?
    • How can public places and programming be used to make independent workers as productive as possible? 
    • What are the programs, platforms and policies needed to harness talent an expand opportunity in an economy with a workforce that is increasingly fluid and independent?

    Using research from leading scholars as a basis, participants were led through a human-centered design workshop by a team from the Stanford d.school. To kick off the session, they shared their “homework.” Prior to the event, the leaders asked each person to engage  people at a farmer’s market or craft fair; a small music venue or community theater; or a family-owned cafe or salon.

    The point of the exercise, explained d.school Fellowship Director Justin Ferrell was to “get into the mindset of the people you are designing for.”

  • Article

    Studio produces ideas on harnessing talent of changing workforce

    May 15, 2014 by Anusha Alikhan

    Studio produces ideas on harnessing talent of changing workforce

    convening

    Photo credit: Tom Clark.

    Overview: Knight Foundation hosted 100 civic innovators at a Civic Innovation in Action Studio in Miami May 12 -14 to explore ways to harness talent, advance opportunity and promote robust engagement

    The changing face of the workforce opens new opportunities for cities. As self-employment continues to grow and traditional career norms falter there is a chance to lay a new foundation for talent to thrive. But cities need to act. That means creating a new climate for civic innovation, rooted in collaborative idea sharing and discovery.

    RELATED LINKS

    "Putting ideas into action to build better cities" by Carol Coletta on KnightBlog

    "Learning Lab gathers ideas on promoting community engagement" by Carol Coletta on KnightBlog

    "Learning Lab gathers ideas on making the most of talent in our cities" by Carol Coletta on KnightBlog

    "Innovators develop ideas on advancing opportunity" by Michael Bolden on KnightBlog.org

    "Boston adopts new tools to engage residents in civic life" by Nigel Jacobs on KnightBlog

    "Scaling an Etsy Economy for a changing workforce" by Dana Mauriello on KnightBlog

    "Harriet Tregoning, identifying ideas to expand opportunities in cities" by Carol Coletta KnightBlog

    "Encouraging more robuts acts of citizenship" by Adam Royalty and Scott Witthoft on KnightBlog

    "Studio explores ideas for successful cities" by Carol Coletta on KnightBlog

    "Civic innovators gather in Miami to build ideas for successful cities" by Michael Bolden on KnightBlog

    "Innovators embrace broad themes of robust engagement" by Andrew Sherry on KnightBlog

    "Studio developing ideas on harnessing talent of a changing workforce" by Anusha Alikhan on KnightBlog

    "Studio produces trove of ideas to improve civic engagement" by Andrew Sherry on KnightBlog

    "Civic Innovation in Action Studio tees up top ideas for better communities" by Michael Bolden on KnightBlog 

    The first day of Knight Foundation’s Civic Innovation in Action Studio on Harnessing Talent centered on team building, encouraging more than 30 participants to work in six groups to ideate and share the results. This laid the groundwork for the second day, allowing groups to develop more concrete prototypes to address a central challenge facing cities today: What are the programs, platforms and policies needed to harness talent and expand opportunity in an economy with a workforce that is increasingly fluid and independent?

    Justin Ferrell, Stanford d.school fellowship director and a facilitator of the Harnessing Talent design session, kicked off the day, emphasizing that the best way to prototype is to test and learn.

    “Today is about launching to learn, not coming up with an idea that is fully cooked,” he said. “It’s a chance to add more context and depth to your ideas.”

    David Janka, another facilitator from the d.school, then instructed groups to build out one or two of their top ideas from yesterday with a storyboard and begin testing. Each group member was asked to take on a role as part of the testing process: The host set the scene, actors played out the story, and observers took notes on what to improve.

    Groups launched into a lively mixture of role-playing and discussion, improving their ideas and joining other teams for feedback. One team built a toolkit for public libraries to engage them in supporting independent workers. The toolkit included ways for libraries to function similar to maker spaces, allowing workers to access equipment (high-speed broadband, scanners, 3-D printers, sewing machines), get help (IT, loan officer, manufacturing expert, librarian), and design their space (shared tables, couch, kitchen). It also positioned the library as an important civic institution, a place where independent employees can meet and work.

    A second group designed a way to get independent contractors to share best practices, which is usually difficult due to competition among contractors. The idea was to mount citywide cash-prize challenges that would unite contractors to submit proposals for a particular project, such as building a new public library. Rather than building out the project, however, the main intent of the challenge would be to connect contractors and collect best practices. In this way, the challenge would serve as a vehicle for developing more trust and collaboration between contractors, while creating new learning tools.

  • Article

    SXSW panelists consider how to connect entrepreneurs and policymakers

    March 11, 2014 by Anusha Alikhan

    panel

    Photo credit: Anusha Alikhan.

    How can governments partner with entrepreneurs to strengthen the startup ecosystem and promote innovation? A panel at SXSW took on this question Sunday, discussing how to build bridges between entrepreneurs and policymakers.

    Greg Ferenstein of Tech Crunch moderated the panel, which included Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Brandon Pollak, director of global affairs for 1776, a Washington D.C.-based business incubator. The conversation highlighted the need for entrepreneurs to become more involved in politics to shape issues that directly affect them, such as business regulation, tax policy, marketplace fairness, immigration and opening up government data.

    Issa pointed out that in many cases entrepreneurs do not leverage lobbying campaigns to curb regulations that stifle business growth. “The industry has to turn the heat up,” he said.

    He cited the example of the proposed anti-piracy bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), which were dropped by legislators after protests from citizens and tech companies that the bills would limit freedom of expression; Issa strongly opposed the legislation.

  • Article

    Five insights for public media newsrooms in the digital age

    May 4, 2016 by Anusha Alikhan

    Five insights for public media newsrooms in the digital age

    Above: Knight's John Bracken leads a panel on the role and responsibility of public media at the Media Learning Seminar.

    In 1967, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act, he noted that Americans want more in life than to create new goods and new wealth.

    “We want most of all to enrich man’s spirit,” Johnson said.

    Johnson’s words in launching the Corporation for Public Broadcasting set the tone for a discussion on public media in today’s digital world at Knight Foundation’s Media Learning Seminar.

  • Article

    SXSW panelists: Public awareness, action can help protect the best of the Internet

    March 10, 2014 by Anusha Alikhan

    sxswpanel

    Photo credit: Michael D. Bolden

    There is still hope for an Internet that preserves free expression and lets innovation thrive. That was the big takeaway from Saturday’s SXSW session “Remember When the Internet Was Free?

    Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president of journalism and media innovation, moderated the panel, which included Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation; Paul Steiger, founding editor-in-chief of ProPublica and a Knight Foundation trustee; and Tim Wu, a writer and professor at Columbia Law School, who popularized the concept of “net neutrality.”

    The panelists discussed the vision of the Internet in its early days describing an open, accessible forum for shared ideas, learning and information. Gardner, in particular, provided a nostalgic account of the emerging Internet, free from government incursion, censorship and discrimination by Internet service providers. 

    “It would be free; it would be cheap; it would be easy; it would importantly, I think, be always on,” she said. “We figured it would be full of interesting useful sites, importantly many of them made by amateurs or individual subject matter experts competing on a level playing field.”

     
  • Article

    Lessons from Miami: Five insights for foundations to better serve grantees

    November 13, 2014 by Anusha Alikhan

    Lessons from Miami: Five insights for foundations to better serve grantees

    How can we improve our work with grantees?

    Matt Haggman at the Miami Grantee Gathering by Anusha Alikhan on Twitter.

    More than 100 Knight Miami grantees came together on Nov. 4 to help us answer this question. Among them were the innovators, entrepreneurs and creatives that have been part of Knight’s journey to make Miami more of a place where ideas are built.

    They provided a view into the progress made since the foundation’s Miami program launched an effort to support the city’s emerging community of entrepreneurs and startups nearly two-and-a-half years ago. Each had a part in the transformation that has occurred in Miami’s innovation ecosystem since that time.

    Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation program director for Miami, kicked-off the discussion by highlighting the gathering as a way to share, learn and connect. He also explained Knight’s thinking behind supporting Miami’s community of startups, makers and doers of all kinds.