News Challenge winners gather in Kansas City, Mo., to share ideas, insights

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John Bracken addresses 2013 Knight News Challenge Summer attendees at the Stanford d.school. Photo by Megan Zimroth. 

Monday evening more than 80 Knight News Challenge winners, Knight staff and a team of our advisers, traveling from all across the country, will come together. For the second year in a row we’re bringing active News Challenge winners to one location to help them advance in their projects. We hope that by bringing them together they can benefit from being around one another, sharing challenges and opportunities. Last year we hosted our event in the heart of Silicon Valley at Stanford University’s d.school where we heard talks from people such as John Lilly, Megan Smith, Rick Klau and DJ Patil.

This year we’re doing a couple things differently. First, we’re gathering in Kansas City, Mo. Although not as widely known, there are amazing entrepreneurial communities in various parts of the country and Kansas City’s is one of the most vibrant. This will expose the News Challenge winners, many for the first time, to innovation coming out of the Midwest. We’ll hear from Mayor Sly James – known for helping develop “Silicon Prairie” and bringing Google Fiber to the region. Also, we will hear from Asim Pasha, the co-founder and co-CEO of Sporting Innovations. Sporting Innovations has made KC’s professional soccer stadium the most innovative fan experience in the country. Our host for the two days is the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which is known for its commitment to entrepreneurship. Kauffman will also run an event on Tuesday evening that will bring the Knight News Challenge and greater Kansas City entrepreneurial communities together--and host a 1 Million Cups event on Wednesday morning.

Much of the meeting will consist of workshops on topics News Challenge winners have asked for, including sales and marketing, branding and storytelling from people such as Vanessa Fox, Scott Messer, JoAnn Sciarrino, Peter Spear and Lea Thau.  We’ve curated the gathering based feedback we received from last year’s participants, which included a desire for more direct help targeted towards their specific projects.  We’ll close on Wednesday with a series of ignite talks from News Challenge winners.

Our goal is that by the time we leave Wednesday the News Challenge community will be tighter and inspired by one another and what we see in Kansas City. And hopefully get a chance to try out that delicious barbecue too.

Meanwhile, want to see the real Kansas City?

John Bracken is director of journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation. Kul Wadhwa is a consultant to the foundation.

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