Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner Will Receive the First Knight Innovation Award from Knight Foundation

Press Release

December 16, 2013


 Gardner to speak at the Knight Innovation Award ceremony at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism on December 16

Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, the operating foundation for the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, will receive the first Knight Innovation Award in recognition of her bold international leadership in digital media and universal Internet access. After she joined the organization, Wikipedia grew dramatically to become the fifth most-visited website in the world. Meanwhile, Gardner established herself as a leader in the struggle for Internet freedom and access.

Gardner will receive a $25,000 award and will grant another $25,000 to a startup of her choice in support of innovation and entrepreneurship in news and information.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation established the Knight Innovation Award, hosted by the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism and its Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. Gardner will announce the recipient of the startup award and speak on innovation during a Dec. 16 (6pm) ceremony at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

When Gardner joined the Wikimedia Foundation in 2007, it raised less than $3 million a year. By 2011, the organization raised $23 million. In 2012, she partnered with Orange and Telenor, two European telecommunications companies, to launch Wikipedia Zero, a program to provide Wikipedia free-of-data-charges to millions of users across Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. The same year, she led a full-day Wikipedia blackout to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act, one of the only major websites to do so.

“Sue’s extraordinary vision for Internet freedom and openness has helped guide the rapidly changing world of journalism into the digital age,” said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president of journalism and media innovation. “Her outstanding accomplishments, first as a journalist and then as leader of the Wikimedia Foundation, have set a firm footing for the future. CUNY, itself an innovator in journalism education and entrepreneurship, is a perfect partner for this new award.”

Jeff Jarvis, director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism, said, “We are committed to supporting new models for sustainable journalism and to incorporating technology developments as our industry transforms. Sue’s work clearly demonstrates her alignment with these goals. We are delighted to honor her for her brave and creative actions and accomplishments.”

Gardner, a native of Port Hope, Ontario, Canada, began her career at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a national public radio organization. Her background as a reporter and producer has given her essential insights as she develops best practices for the future of media.

Incoming CUNY Graduate School of Journalism Dean Sarah Bartlett said, “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work with Knight Foundation, which has supported us for three years, on another initiative that contributes to the advancement of our industry. Sue Gardner certainly deserves to be celebrated for her work. Our institution couldn’t be more pleased to co-host this historic event.”

About the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism

The Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism was established in 2010 to help create a sustainable future for quality journalism through education, research, and incubation.

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. The Foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.

About the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in midtown Manhattan is the only publicly supported graduate journalism school in the Northeast.  Opened in 2006 under Founding Dean Stephen B. Shepard, the School offers a 16-month Master of Arts in Journalism program that includes a required paid professional summer internship.  It was also first in the nation to offer an M.A. in Entrepreneurial Journalism, beginning in 2011. Taught by award-winning journalists from top media organizations, students learn to tell stories using print, broadcast, and interactive formats while getting rigorous instruction in reporting, writing, critical thinking, and journalism ethics. Students also specialize in one of five subject areas: arts & culture, business & economics, health & medicine, international, or urban reporting.


Amy Dunkin, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, [email protected], 646-758-7826

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]