Knight Prototype Fund helps innovators test future of media

Press Release

March 7, 2013


Eight new projects will go from idea to demo with funding from Knight Foundation

MIAMI (March 7, 2013) Knight Foundation today announced that it is funding eight new projects out of the Knight Prototype Fund, which helps journalists, developers and tinkerers take media innovations from idea to demonstration.

Prototype Fund investments, of up to $50,000, are designed to help test an assumption so that innovators can experiment, learn and iterate before moving on to the more costly stage of building out a project. When successful projects emerge, Knight Foundation is poised to help them scale.

Related Link 

"Grantmaking gone lean - meet 8 new Knight-funded prototypes" by Chris Barr Knight Blog

Several of the projects aim to help open up local governments to people, or provide new tools for journalists. They include creating a tool that tracks gender bias in news stories to another that allows people to report street harassment directly to their city.

“With the cost of experimentation dropping these days, it’s almost too expensive to not test an idea. So instead, we’re providing small amounts of funding, to see what works, and learn from the experiments to help move media forward,” said Chris Barr, who runs the Knight Prototype Fund.

The Prototype Fund is the latest in a series of moves by Knight Foundation to match its funding more closely to the pace of innovation. Others include increasing the frequency of the Knight News Challenge, the international media innovation contest, and ramping up the Enterprise Fund, which invests in for-profit media companies that do social good.

The projects receiving investments are:

Hollaback: Piloting a mobile app that allows people to report street harassment directly to their cities. It is being developed in partnership with the New York City Council.

eCitizens: Building an online service giving citizens the ability to subscribe to receive an alert when their local government is working on issues they care about most.  The project, to be piloted in San Diego, will use data from Granicus, a major software company for city documents as well as manually scraping municipal websites.

North Central Texas Council of Governments: Creating a new community crime watch portal updated with data from local law enforcement agencies. The site will offer mapping to see where crime is happening and alerts to be sent to crime watch groups. The council will be partnering with the Dallas Morning News.

Rashomon Project: Offering journalists an improved tool to review user-submitted content by allowing users to easily assemble video of breaking news chronologically, so that the same event can be viewed by various angles. It is organized by the University of California Berkeley's CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative.

Associated Press: Seeking to make newsrooms more efficient by creating a tool that enables journalists to easily combine data for their stories with geographically related data sets, a task that currently represents a significant technical hurdle for many reporters on deadline.

OpenGenderTracking Project by Bocoup: Raising awareness of gender balance in the media by creating a deployable service newsrooms and other content providers can use to evaluate the gender split of both writers and voices in stories. Funding will help build the service as well as conduct two case studies with The Boston Globe and Global Voices.

Data Toys: Building physical and digital models of complexity in the news that encourage open-ended play. Their first projects are in partnership with Public Radio International and Radiolab and are being built through a class at Parsons The New School for Design.

LAMP: Building an online video editor that allows students to remix and respond to copyrighted materials as part of a media literacy class. The project will be piloted in New York City schools.

The Knight Prototype Fund continually accepts applications at

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit


Andrew Sherry, Vice President/Communications, (305) 908-2677, [email protected]