News for Digital Journalists

Posts tagged with: Community

March 09, 2010

Apps for Inclusion: New Knight contest to build the digital public square

On Tuesday the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced a new contest to develop online and mobile applications that will help people improve their lives through better access to government/community info and services.

The Apps for Inclusion Challenge “encourages technology innovators to review government and community services and develop tools that will improve lives by making it easier for citizens to receive these services through mobile and online applications.”

This announcement came during an event co-hosted by the Knight Foundation in which the FCC previewed its forthcoming National Broadband Plan. The FCC will be “in partnership” with the Knight Foundation on Apps for Inclusion.

Contest entry criteria and deadlines have not yet been announced. However, the Knight Foundation will commit a total of $100,000 in prize money. A panel of experts will review applications and pick winners. The public will have a vote through several “people’s choice awards.”

Stay tuned for further details.

July 02, 2010

Pew research: Internet is mostly good for society, community

The Internet has been getting a bad rap for allegedly destroying the fabric of society and community—but new research from Pew and Elon University suggest that the social benefits of internet use will far outweigh the negatives over the next decade…

For The Future of Social Relations report, researchers from the Pew Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center surveyed nearly 900 internet experts and other internet users. (Disclosure: I was one of the experts surveyed, and I am quoted in the report.)

The results were most, but not completely, positive about the impacts of the internet on social and community life. In all, 85% or respondents agreed with this statement: “In 2020, when I look at the big picture and consider my personal friendships, marriage and other relationships, I see that the internet has mostly been a positive force on my social world. And this will only grow more true in the future.”

This research indicates the importance of recognizing how people’s sense of society, community, and connection has been changing because of the internet. This could be especially important for geographically-focused news organizations (like local papers, TV, or radio) to recognize and reflect in their coverage. Understanding what members of your community have in common besides geography—and following the patterns of how and where they’re connecting online, and with whom—could help you provide news that continues to be uniquely relevant and compelling.

December 14, 2010

Newsroom cafe: Journal-Register Co. goes web-first with bold approach to community engagement

A daily paper from Northwestern Connecticut is now serving coffee and pastries along with news, in an effort to increase community engagement.

This week, the Register Citizen opened a new newsroom in Torrington, CT. The 13,000 square foot facility features the Journal-Register Company’s first newsroom café...

The newsroom café is open to the public and serves coffee and pastries. It also offers:

  • Free public wifi
  • Public access to more than 120 years of newspaper archives
  • Classroom/meeting space with video conferencing capabilities
  • Dedicated space and workstations for the public as part of The Register Citizen’s Community Media Lab.
  • And more...


While the newsroom café concept may be new—or at least novel—in the US, it’s been happening at least since 2009 in the Czech Republic. The New York Times reported in 2009 on a chain of Czech news coffeeshops operated by PPF group.

Eric Pfanner of the Times wrote:

“A free press is a relatively recent development in the Czech Republic, but it has not been immune from the travails the newspaper industry has faced in more-developed markets. Dozens of papers have been shut down in recent months as the economic crisis has deepened. Yet PPF, a firm based in Amsterdam with banking, insurance and media holdings in Central and Eastern Europe, sees an opportunity in the turmoil.

“PPF is starting small, investing less than 10 million, or $13.4 million, in the project for now. It plans [as of 2009] to begin publishing seven weekly newspapers and about 30 web sites serving four distinct regions of the country.

“...If the sites and newspapers are successful ...the goal is to add scores of similar ones across the Czech Republic—and perhaps beyond, in other Central and Eastern European countries.”

The news café idea occurred simultaneously—and independently—to David Cohn, founder of the journalism crowdfunding service Spot.us. In a 2009 blog post, he wrote:

“Aside from being a revenue stream (coffee, bagels, etc) it would create a deeper connection between the news organization and the public. Could story tips be garnered this way? Perhaps it would be a great way to meet and encourage citizen journalism partners. Could a news café take on MediaBistro in the workshops/training department? Could the space eventually be used to organize civilized public debates? Is this something that could be franchised and repeated in the following cities: San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New York, etc?”

Good luck to the Register Citizen’s new venture. And take it easy on the espresso.

January 18, 2011

Knight Community Information Challenge now accepting applications

News entrepreneurs are finding that support can come in many ways that news organizations traditionally have not explored—including partnering with community foundations…

If you would like to launch a local news or information venue or project, now is the time to find a community or place-based foundation willing to support your project. Then have your foundation partner apply for the Knight Community Information Challenge. This five-year grant contest from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation designed to engage community and place-based foundations in meeting local information needs.

Applicants must be a US community or place-based foundation. Projects must meet a local information need, and the local foundation must match Knight’s investment.

Apply now!
Deadline: March 7

In addition to grants, this program provides access to mentoring and other resources—including “circuit riders” like Placeblogger founder Lisa Williams who recently explained what makes a good community information project.

June 10, 2011

Knight Foundation responds to FCC Info Needs of Communities report

Yesterday, the FCC published its long-awaited report, Information Needs of Communities—the culmination of an effort which began life as the “Future of Media” project, inspired by the 2009 Knight Commission report on Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation says the FCC report “offers hope” for the recommendations of the Knight Commission report…

A Knight Foundation statement says that the FCC report offers “most comprehensive national look at media policy in a generation, offering new hope that the recommendations of the Knight Commission… will move from the debate stage into action.”

So far, such action has been lagging. Knight Foundation president Alberto Ibargüen observed: “Of the areas considered by the Knight Commission, our nation has made real progress on only one: universal broadband access. As satisfying as that is, it is also completely unacceptable—and unAmerican—that a significant number of people are still ‘second-class citizens,’ without the broadband access needed to participate in digital life and commerce.”

The FCC report suggested several ways to help ensure that communities continue to receive quality news and information as the media landscape keeps shifting radically. However, very few of these would entail FCC policy changes or direct government involvement—something that has drawn criticism from Columbia Journalism Review, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, and others.

FCC recommended that the philanthropy community assume a larger ongoing role in meeting community information needs. This approach is exemplified by the Knight Community Information Challenge, as well as by efforts from other national foundations, such as Gates, Ford, Carnegie, Macarthur, McCormick, and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism.

The FCC report also suggested that journalism schools could do more to help meet community information needs, and it lauded the growing nonprofit media sector—also areas in which the Knight Foundation has active programs and partnerships, such as News 21.

For more ideas on how the recommendations of the 2009 Knight Commission report could translate into action, see KDMC’s 2010 series of articles expanding upon that report.

The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

June 21, 2011

Journalism inextricably linked to new forms of digital community - Neiman Reports

If you’re looking for a journalist’s atlas to the world of digital community, plan to scan the latest Neiman Reports from Harvard’s Neiman Foundation. With more than two dozen write-ups and case studies, it offers telling insights into how the online space redefines community and what journalism can do to identify it, connect with it, build it and thrive with it. And the pursuit of community by the news business is no academic exercise, but rather an effort “fueled by an instinct to survive,” as editor Melissa Ludtke wrote in her introduction to the Summer 2011 issue published June 15.

One notion addressed up front is that, for journalists covering the news, geography may no longer be the primary driver of community. The publication offers up examples of news outlets that are built around, as Ludtke explained: “Habits and hobbies, interests and values, political leanings, and sports allegiances.” Among them: local topical health site WellsCommon launched by the Lawrence, Kansas-based World Co., and which author Jane Stevens described as experimenting with a solution-based combination of journalism and social media to “chang[e] the community’s conversation about health.”

Yet as the issue makes clear, physical community is still a vibrant option for journalism, and locales are in much need of news coverage. The report cited numerous examples of digital experimentation with community-based news. Several pieces, for instance, focus on developments in Detroit, including writeups by The Poyntner Institute’s Bill Mitchell, former New York Times correspondent Lynette Clemetson and community leader Shirley Stancato on the experimental site Detroit 143 - a news venture in a troubled community long favored by hard-bitten news hounds that Mitchell says is looking for new ways to link journalism and civic engagement.

While online community may be sparked by journalists, it has to be built by the community itself as it actively shares information. Mark Briggs of KING-TV in Seattle wrote about the power of the link as a new kind of ‘word of mouth’ for collaborative journalism, while Steven Rosenbaum, author of “Curation Nation,” touted the power of human filtering in the “curated web.”

Not all dialogue works so constructively, as NPR’s outgoing ombudsman Alicia Shepard noted: “[I]t’s pretty clear that the debate between dialogue and diatribe is still being waged. From the view I’ve had for the last three years as NPR’s ombudsman I’d say diatribe is winning—hands down.”

Regardness, journalists have a new obligation to community, argued Joy Mayer of the Missouri School of Journalism, “to identify and attempt to connect with the people who most want and need their content.”  Fulfilling that obligation is not only the “right thing” for journalists to do for their communities, she added, but also good for the bottom line.

Rather than news organizations thinking of themselves as primarily creators of news for people to consume, concluded Public Radio International’s Michael Skoler, they “need to think of themselves first as gathering, supporting and empowering people to be active in a community with shared values.”

The full issue can be viewed online or downloaded in pdf form.

The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

September 27, 2011

Block by Block 2011 conference this week: Follow it online

If you didn’t find enough community news action at the recent ONA conference and awards in Boston, then here’s another event to watch:

This week Loyola University is hosting Block by Block 2011, an annual gathering of online community news entrepreneurs. Here’s how you can follow it online…

The Chicago event will be held Sept. 29-Oct. 1. The agenda is based mostly on suggestions from community news publishers, many of whom are conference participants. The conference is co-chaired by Michele McLellan (of KDMC and the Reynolds Journalism Institute) and Jay Rosen (of New York University).

The Twitter hashtag is #BXB11.

There will be a live stream of the conference’s opening session (Thursday, 4pm Central) as well as all main sessions and selected breakouts on Friday. Breakouts include “How to set ad rates” with Deb Galant (Baristanet, 10:30 am CT Fri.) and “Mobilizing for Mobile” with Amy Gahran (Oakland Local, 3:15 pm). Selected sessions from Saturday morning’s unconference also will be live streamed.

Other sessions will be recorded and posted on RJI after the conference.

Background, updates, and more are available on the Block by Block network blog.

The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

February 16, 2012

Knight Media Learning Seminar: Livestream, Feb. 20-21

Next week, community, foundation and tech leaders are gathering in Miami to explore trends in news and information, as well as the best ways to invest in media. It’s the 2012 Knight Media Learning Seminar, and you can watch the livestream online…

Watch the livestream beginning Monday, Feb. 20, 10 am EST. Full schedule and more info.

The program includes keynotes by:


Other sessions include:

  • Monday 11:45 am EST: Achievements. Foundation leaders discuss their successful local news and information projects.
  • Monday, 3:45 pm EST: What’s now, what’s next. A look at emerging technologies, with Knight VPs Michael Maness and Paula Ellis, and Amy Webb of the WebbMedia Group.
  • Tuesday, 10:15 am EST: Partnerships. Tips on how to find the best partners for your news and information project, based on the new Knight Foundation report.

Follow the conference hashtag on Twitter: #infoneeds.

The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

June 22, 2012

Mashable contest: How has social media impacted your local community?

June 30 is Social Media Day, an annual celebration from Mashable, a popular tech news site. Today Mashable announced a contest that’s highly relevant to community news outlets that use social media…

“This year we want to dig deep and find out exactly how social media has affected your community,” writes Nina Frazier of Mashable. “Whether it’s using Twitter to break down barriers to your local government or creating new ways to communicate with your neighbors, let us know. We want to hear from you. How has social media impacted your local community?”

If you’ve got a good story to tell, write it up as a comment to Mashable’s contest announcement post. Mashable will select five of the most inspired answers as winners. Each will receive a 4G Motorola Droid Razr Maxx (a $300 value, you’ll need to get your own Verizon plan for it) as well as recognition from Mashable.

Mashable is hosting Social Media Day meetups in nearly 500 cities around the world. You can also host your own—and gain visibility for it by using the hashtag #SMday. Organizer tools available from the Social Media Day webpage.

(Disclosure: I already entered this contest to describe how YouTube videos and other social media turned outrage in Oakland, California over the 2009 police shooting of Oscar Grant into a powerful local movement—and also sparked the founding of OaklandLocal, a community news site and platform I co-founded. But if you come up with a better story, more power to you!)

The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

June 26, 2012

Community Journalism Executive Training: October at KDMC

This October 40 community and investigative news publishers will receive expert guidance on business and market challenges through an executive training program offered at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)...


The Community Journalism Executive Training (CJET) program is being created by the Investigative News Network and [email protected], with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Patterson Foundation. It will be held October 18-20 at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism in Los Angeles.

The program will train 40 executives (20 from investigative sites and 20 from community news sites) in the practicalities of building sustainable community journalism organizations. Topics will include fundraising, business operations,  technology, community engagement and more.

Participants will work in small groups with expert coaches. The goal: to develop a 100-day tactical plan for building their businesses.

This training is offered to community news organizations affiliated with INN and the Block-by-Block initiative. Watch the News for Digital Journalists blog for updates for the application process.

“Our work during the last six months with 12 independent Super Camp publishers, supported by the Patterson Foundation, has shown that high-touch mentoring and coaching by business and revenue experts produces results,” said Vikki Porter, director of the .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). “We think the executive training program will show how focused business skills and strategic planning can result in sustaining revenue streams for startup news organizations.”

The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.