News for Digital Journalists

Posts tagged with: Knight Foundation

February 27, 2012

Knight News Challenge 2012: To apply, answer 7 questions on networks

Today the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation began accepting applications for the first part of the revamped Knight News Challenge. To apply, explain your idea on the theme of “networks” by answering seven questions on a special Tumblr site…

This year the News Challenge will comprise three smaller, more focused competitions. Each Challenge will last 8-10 weeks, beginning to end. The application deadline for the first Challenge is March 17. First-round winners will be announced June 18 at MIT.

By “networks,” Knight means “ideas that build on the rise of existing network events and tools that deliver news and information and extend our understanding.”

In this video, Michael Maness (Knight VP of Journalism and Media Innovation) elaborated on the “networks” theme. For example: “Storify didn’t invent Twitter,” he said, “they just found a new way of using it.”

Knight News Challenge 2012 from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

Later this spring, Knight will launch the second Challenge (an open competition, casting a wide net for new ideas). The dates and topic of the third contest have not yet been determined.

Learn more and apply now
Deadline: March 17

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 28, 2012

PBS MediaShift launches collaborative journalism resource

The traditional culture of journalism is fiercely competitive—but as newsrooms and budgets continue to shrink, more journalists are teaming up to make sure important stories keeps getting covered. To support this culture change, this week PBS MediaShift launched Collaboration Central—an online resource to help journalists work together better in the digital age…

“We don’t expect this to be a soft-focus campfire scene with people singing ‘Kumbaya’ and holding hands. Collaboration is a matter of survival for many journalistic organizations struggling to find a business model in the age of the internet,” MediaShift Executive Editor Mark Glaser wrote.

So far Collaboration Central showcases essays and case studies which explore the nature of journalistic collaboration. So far the site hasn’t directly challenged the “scoop mentality” or the common practice of avoiding acknowledging or linking to previous coverage by competitors. But give it time.

The site is produced in partnership with the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

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

March 07, 2012

The New iPad: What does it mean for news publishers?

Today Apple unveiled the new iPad—notable mainly for improved graphics capabilities, a better camera, and 4G wireless network access. Thus it probably earns Apple’s marketing buzzword “resolutionary,” since it’s by no means revolutionary. Still, this tablet is expected to sell well in coming months.

What might it mean for news and information publishers…

In the run-up to today’s product launch, many news publishers have updated their iPad apps. Over the last two weeks, such updates include the iPad apps for the New York Times, Associated Press, New York Daily News, Pulse News, Flipboard, NBC Nightly News, the Guardian (Eyewitness app), the Star Tribune and more.

Now that the specs and capabilities of the new iPad have been confirmed, it’s likely that even more news organizations will be revamping both their apps and the kind of content delivered through them—especially the resolution of photos, video, and graphics.

Video—including live streaming—might be an especially good bet for iPad app content, since the new iPad runs on faster 4G wireless networks from Verizon or AT&T. Also, since the tiered new iPad data plans do not require a contract and can be changed or canceled at any time, it’s likely that many iPad3 users will sign up for 4G service at least initially just to try it out.

This means that demand for mobile video will likely spike via both iPad apps and the mobile web after the new iPad hits stores March 16. This might be a good time to review your capabilities for video delivery, especially during sudden spikes driven by breaking news. Can your servers handle this kind of mobile traffic? And how prepared are the carriers to deal with such spikes?

According to a recent report from comScore, Apple’s iOS mobile operating system currently accounts for 60% of all U.S. mobile traffic, and the vast majority (90%) of all tablet traffic in the U.S.

The improved camera and built-in photo, video, and audio editing and management capabilities of the new iPad might also make this market segment a good target for multimedia contests, or collaborative projects such as crowdsourcing.

Of course, if your news or info venue serves rural communities or other places lagging in 4G deployment, the new iPad will have relatively little impact at this time.

The new iPad is still rather pricey: the lowest-end wifi-only model costs $499, and if you want to add 4G capability that costs $130 more up front. Plus there’s the cost for the data plans, which range from $15/month (for a paltry 250 MB, from AT&T) to $80/month (for 10 GB, Verizon).

What will be more interesting will be to see if later this year Apple finally launches a smaller, cheaper iPad mini. This long-rumored unicorn so far has failed to materialize—but if the Kindle Fire and other smaller Android tablets keep gaining ground fast, Apple might be tempted to compete with this large consumer market segment.  It’s still a rough economy out there—and the lesson of how Android quickly came to dominate the U.S. smartphone market is probably not lost on Apple. An iPad mini would have very different device and app support capabilities, which would require more significant adaptation from apps and mobile websites.

April 04, 2012

More than twice as many mobile users prefer news orgs’ mobile websites over apps

Many news organizations still put most of their mobile budget into developing native apps for smartphone and tablet platforms. But new research shows that mobile users are vastly more likely to prefer getting news via the mobile web, rather than through apps provided by news organizations…

Roger Fidler, director of the Digital Publishing Alliance at the Reynolds School of Journalism (Univ. MO-Columbia) presented his research findings at the annual conference of the American Society of News Editors.

Earlier this year Fidler’s team surveyed 1015 randomly selected people across the U.S. Nearly 60% use a smartphone, 21% use a “large media tablet” (probably mostly iPads), 13% use an e-reader, and 7% use a small media tablet (such as the Kindle Fire). Four in 10 currently subscribe to at least one print newspaper or news magazine.

One of the questions Fidler explored was: Which presentation formats do owners of mobile media devices prefer for reading news?

Over half—54% of respondents—said they prefer to visit news org websites to get news on their mobile devices. In contrast, only 22% reported a preference for apps offered by news organizations.

The mobile news audience is pretty big. “Keeping up with the news” was the fourth most popular mobile activity cited by participants—after interpersonal communication, entertainment, and non-news mobile web use.

Also, participants vastly preferred getting news on their mobile device over getting news from print newspapers or TV/radio news.

In a related ASNE presentation, Missouri School of Journalism professor Mike Jenner found:

  • In 2011 62% of U.S. dailies with 25,000+ circulation had at least one mobile phone app—compared to only 21% of smaller dailies.
  • Nearly 60% of dailies which lacked smartphone apps last year planned to launch them this year.
  • In 2011 39% of large dailies offered a tablet app, compared to just 9% of smaller dailies.
  • Nearly half of dailies which lacked tablet apps last year plan to add them this year.

Neither research project specifically examined how many news organizations have optimized their web presence for mobile visitors.

Since the mobile web is what mobile users strongly prefer, perhaps continuing to invest overwhelmingly in apps rather than updating the mobile web experience might be shortsighted.

See presentation slides by Fidler and Jenner. The complete report will be published soon.

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

April 06, 2012 Open source software from Knight News Challenge winners

Over the last several years, the News Challenge projects funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation have produced open source software that journalists, news outlets and anyone can put to use. These tools are now easy to find, all in one place… showcases software such as Ushahidi (crowdmapping), DocumentCloud (index, share, annotate and publish source documents), Panda (data analysis) and more. You can learn how this software is being used. Also, you can download the source code to customize, improve, or expand upon this software.

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

May 30, 2012

Voice of San Diego launches print magazine

The nonprofit news venue Voice of San Diego is no longer digital-only. This month VSD launched a monthly print magazine, which it’s selling for $7.99…

The magazine, Voice of San Diego Monthly, repurposes content from the website and is generated by MagCloud, a fee-based print-on-demand service from Hewlett-Packard.

VSD Monthly is available both in print and iPad editions. The digital edition is free, and the magazine is also included as a perk of VSD’s membership program. This experiment is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

In a recent KnightBlog post, VSD CEO Scott Lewis explained how it works:

“Say you have an idea for a magazine. All you have to do is come up with the content and design and then upload it. People can buy it if they want to hold the magazine in their hands, spill coffee on it without worrying or stuff it in their purse or briefcase. ...We design and upload the magazine. If you decide to buy it, either the digital or print version, MagCloud takes a cut and sends the difference to us.”

Any digital publication could try this strategy. According to HP’s MagCloud info, “There’s no cost to upload a publication, and once you do, you can make it available in print and in digital through the MagCloud online storefront for the cost of production plus any markup you want to add on. You can then direct your customers to the online store to place their orders, and we will take care of all transactions, printing, shipping and digital distribution for you. You can track your sales through the MagCloud website, and receive your earnings at the end of each month.”

See the MagCloud cost calculator to estimate printing and shipping costs.

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 05, 2012

Knight invests in startup Umbel for better audience metrics

Who are your reaching with your news and information? Are you reaching who you want to reach? How can you convey this important data effectively to advertisers and funders? These are crucial questions for any for-profit or nonprofit publisher, large or small—especially community and niche media outlets.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently announced an investment in Umbel, a startup which aims to provide real-time audience information enhanced with data visualization…

According to Knight, Umbel “marries traditional research and big data analysis of social sources to give publishers real-time intelligence about the audiences that engage with them. With this information in hand, Umbel empowers publishers to convey their audience’s true value and brand preferences more effectively to advertisers and sponsors.”

Knight invested an undisclosed amount in Umbel’s $3.7 million Series A round of venture financing. This was done through the Knight Foundation Enterprise Fund—a new, early-stage venture fund dedicated to advancing media innovation.

Of course, one problem with using audience data as a sales tool is that it’s often boring and ugly—packaged in tables, bar charts, spreadsheets, or bullet points almost guaranteed to put an advertiser or funder to sleep. Also, only looking at the numbers can sometimes obscure the nuanced patterns of how audiences engage with publishers.

So far Umbel’s system is available only in private beta testing, so there aren’t many details on it. However, Umbel’s about page explains the key role data visualization plays in its system, and also shows an example graphic:

“In 1995 the first living organism’s genome was sequenced… The ability to identify and measure the traits of a genome provides insights to better understand organisms and powers the invention of new solutions that benefit us all. In 2011, Umbel sequenced the first Digital Genome. Measuring and identifying the traits of a digital organism will prove valuable for digital consumers, brands and publishers who want to understand and improve digital lives.”

Understanding patterns in media consumption and audience engagement is getting increasingly complex—especially as mobile devices are starting to take over as the most common way that people access the internet.

One especially thorny issue is recognizing how users shift their experience of your content across multiple devices over the course of a day or a week. A given user may tend to use a smartphone at certain times, a tablet at others, and a laptop or desktop computer at others.

Also, beyond merely consuming content, audience members can share it with their networks, add commentary or context, or directly engage with publishers about the content.

Understanding these and other patterns can help publishers craft strategies that keep pace with the needs and preferences of their digital (and increasingly mobile and multi-device) audiences—and craft advertising and sponsorship options that demonstrably complement how your audience engages with your content.

It’s unclear at this point how much Umbel might be taking mobile media or multi-device users into account. Gathering such data poses special technical challenges, compared to gathering data from how people access websites via computer. However, if Umbel’s data visualizations serve to more clearly illuminate important usage patterns, that would be a significant improvement upon the output of most audience metrics currently available.

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 20, 2012

Knight announces six “networks” News Challenge Winners

This week the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced the six winners of the first 2012 round of the Knight News Challenge. These projects leverage existing networks to create new ways to inform and engage communities…

The winners are:

  •, which aggregates live mobile video streams of breaking news events (via networks such as Ustream and TweetCaster) into an easily searchable world map.
  • After a tornado destroyed their Massachusetts home, two sisters created an online organizing platform that helps disaster-stricken communities quickly launch recovery efforts. In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, enables communities to launch a website to ensure that heightened news attention translates into donations, volunteers and more.
  • A dashboard that tracks stories through social networks and across multiple news sites, to help newsrooms monitor what is resonating with readers and make smarter editorial decisions.
  • Watchup. This iPad app makes it easier and faster to find high-quality news videos. It also offers curated playlists which aggregates news reports into a simple interface.
  • Behavio. An open-source platform that turns phones into smart sensors of people’s real-world behavior, from how they use their phones to how they communicate. Funding will help programmers build apps with smarter sensors, create tools for journalists to uncover trends in community data, and launch a mobile application to help individuals explore data about their lives.
  • Tor Project. This longstanding project will leverage its vast network of volunteers to create a toolkit to help reporters communicate more safely with sources by using Tor’s secure Web browser, an anonymous upload utility, and more.

The deadline for applications for this year’s second News Challenge round (focused on Data) is tomorrow, June 21, noon EDT. Learn more and apply now.

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.

June 29, 2012

From the Journalism Accelerator: Lessons in content collaboration

The Journalism Accelerator has published a fascinating case study on a collaboration between traditional news organizations and start ups to produce an investigative report about the fate of Haitian deportees that was published across multiple news outlets.

As collaboration becomes more popular (and necessary) in a money-strapped news landscape, we can move past the concept at start looking at what works and what doesn’t. The Journalism Accelerator takes a step in that direction with “JA Use Case: Five steps to pave the way toward collaborative revenue.”

The collaboration began when a freelance reporter learned that one out of two Haitians being deported by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency were taken straight to Haitian jails, even when there was no conviction for violating Haitian law. The reporter, Jacob Kushner, approached the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. The Center then lined up additional Florida partners, including two public radio stations, and online news partners in other states who published localized versions of Kushner’s story. The effort cost less than $8,000, with several partners contributing to defray costs. If you are in the online news space and interested in content collaboration, be sure to read the details in the JA post.

Among key lessons of the collaboration:
- Find mutual benefit. In this case, FCIR wanted a larger audience, while some of the partners wanted investigative content they couldn’t produce themselves.
- Know the value a collaboration brings. Think about revenue, reputation and the prospect of an important long-term relationship.
- Make legal responsibilities and any editorial terms of collaboration clear in advance. The project was not without its disagreements. Different local partners had different editorial standards, something that is not uncommon in the dynamic local news space.

This case study is one of a number of recent reports from the Journalism Accelerator, a Portland-based start up that aims to be a resource and connector for actors in the emerging journalism space. Here is a round up of a virtual forum on collaboration that the JA staged last month. Lots of tips and ideas here.

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