News for Digital Journalists

Posts tagged with: Knight Foundation

July 28, 2010

Knight Foundation Blog: Recent Journalism Highlights

Knightblog, the blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is an excellent source of ideas and news about important projects changing the world of journalism and more.

Here are some recent posts from this blog about Knight’s journalism program and related news…

  • My Story, My Goal: In response to the UN Millennium Development Goals, 14 young journalists from the University of Miami collaborated with local partners to share coverage personifying some of the most critical global problems. Stories about seven people from African and Asian countries were compiled into a short documentary, This is My Goal.
  • Dangers of Covering Corruption: “Covering corruption is more dangerous than covering war,” says Rosemary Armao, author of a new report from the Center for International Media Assistance. The report suggests ways to improve the safety of reporters, rethink investigative journalism training, and use digital technology to empower journalists and communities—three areas of focus for Knight grants.
  • Seeking Sustainability: In April, the Knight Foundation sponsored a roundtable gathering of 12 groundbreaking nonprofit news startups, including California Watch, The Huffington Post Investigative Fund, the Chicago News Cooperative, Voice of San Diego, and The Texas Tribune. This event is summarized in a new report and 12 videos that touch on issues common to all online news startups: journalism and advertising models, generating revenue, interacting with and building community, technology and innovation, and more.

Knightblog covers all of the Foundation’s program areas—which beyond journalism include arts, communities, innovation, and key national issues such as immigration naturalization and broadband access.

July 30, 2010

Report: Successful News Startups Need Diverse Revenue Streams, Value Propositions

What’s the key to survival for nontraditional news startups? Diversity - at least in terms of varied revenue streams and ways to create journalistic and community value.

That’s one core precept identified this spring at a roundtable of a dozen innovative news startups and now detailed in a new report, “Seeking Sustainability: A Nonprofit News Roundtable.” The nonprofit startups included California Watch, The Huffington Post Investigative Fund, Chicago News Cooperative, Voice of San Diego, The Texas Tribune and others. They were brought together in April by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Among other central lessons the startups shared:

  * Leadership, business model and visibility were more important to developing successful community and media partnerships than was initial financial backing.
  * Traditional media partners, particularly public media, can be very helpful for distributing content and providing organizational and financial support.
  * Memberships can be an effective source of revenue - incentives and benefits may be a further boost.
  * Existing technology is a better bet than custom tools, especially for startups with limited tech staffing and budget.

For more on the report, visit a July 27 post in KnightBlog, or go directly to the pdf of the 82-page report, which also includes nearly a dozen videos from the roundtable discussion.

August 04, 2010

Investigate West’s first year: Progress and evolution

It’s been a little over a year since the nonprofit news startup Investigate West launched, and in that time it’s made significant progress—as well as some significant changes .

Here are some of this venture’s highlights so far…

I-West’s executive editor and co-founder Rita Hibbard is an alum of [email protected]’s first news entrepreneurship bootcamp in 2009, and this year she’s a fellow with [email protected]’s Leadership Institute. (Both of these programs are funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.) On YouTube, she offered her vision and advice for launching a nonprofit news site.

According to Columbia Journalism Review, I-West’s core staff worked for “sweat equity” from July 2009 until June 2010, when they began paying themselves.

When the site launched, blogging was a key vehicle for its content. But over the past year, the staff is blogging less and focusing more on big features.

So far I-West has published three major investigative features, with paid distribution through regional and national news organizations (print and broadcast).

I-West’s annual budget is about $225,000 (80% from foundations, 20% from paid content and individual donors). CJR noted that this is “a far cry from the $1.35 million budget the team projected when it launched a year ago. Hibbard explained that that forecast was based the expectation of hiring a larger staff, which no longer seems practical.”

Aside from producing traditional journalistic stories, I-West staff is writing at least one white paper, paid for by a Russell Family Foundation grant. Is this a conflict of interest? I-West cofounder Robert McClure told CJR: “We’re providing [the foundation] with information that will back up a reporting project we want to do (storm water in Puget Sound). So why not go ahead and do it? It’s their information once we give it to them, but we learned something. You can’t unring a bell.”

McClure clarified that I-West intends to undertake only paid private research projects that support I-West’s journalistic plans.

In year two, I-West intends to produce 6-8 major investigative features—and perhaps hire one more full-time staff reporter.

August 09, 2010

Publish2 Offers News Co-op Tool to Help Create Wire Service-Like Partnerships

Publish2 has released a new tool that enables newsrooms to create co-ops for content sharing - a key add-on to Publish2’s recently launched News Exchange platform, a do-it-yourself system for newspapers and other publishers to distribute news by automatically exporting shared content to their print publishing systems.

The new “co-ops” aim to let one news organization seamlessly allow others to republish content from its Publish2 newswires.

According to Ryan Sholin, director of news innovation at, newspapers across a state could create a co-op to automatically share local news of wider interest, effectively creating a state wire.

The same tool could be used for national sports co-ops or national breaking news co-ops, he added. It’s also easy to imagine hyperlocal news organizations creating a co-op to share news around their community to challenge (or partner with) metros, either on print or online fronts.

Meanwhile, Publish2 has seen a spate of news services starting up, announcing July 26 that ProPublica, GlobalPost, Texas Tribune, and Texas Watchdog have created their own news wires using the Publish2 platform.

On Aug. 3, Publish2 also announced that photo agency Demotix will publish images on the platform (Neiman Journalism lab has more on the new partnership).

August 10, 2010

Code for America Gov2.0 fellowships, apply now!

More and more news orgs and journos are interested in government transparency and civic engagement—but they generally need help from civic-minded techies to make progress on these fronts.

If you know (or if you are) a programmer, designer, or product manager interested in Government 2.0-style innovation, check out the Code for America fellowship program…

In 2011, this 11-month program will focus on five cities: Boston, Boulder CO, Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Seattle. Fellows receive a $35,000 stipend, travel expenses, healthcare, and training/support to become a leader in business or public service.

For 10 of the 11 months, the fellows will be based in San Francisco, putting in startup-style full-time hours on this project.

Learn more and apply now
Application deadline: Aug. 15

August 10, 2010

J-Lab’s new Philadelphia Enterprise Reporting Fund

A new experimental fund will help journalists in the Greater Philadelphia region develop public affairs stories and demonstrate the possibilities for collaborative newsgathering and distribution.

The Philadelphia Enterprise Reporting Fund will award ten $5,000 grants to support reporting projects. This program is funded by the William Penn Foundation and administered by J-Lab (a project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation). J-Lab recommended establishing this fund in an April 2010 report.

Here’s what’s eligible, and how to apply…

According to J-Lab, eligible projects must:

  • Focus on the City of Philadelphia and the eight-county Greater Philadelphia Region. (Harrisburg- and Trenton-based projects focused on the Philadelphia region also are eligible.)
  • Foster an open exchange of journalistically sound information.
  • Include enterprise reporting that involves investigative or explanatory journalism, watchdog or accountability journalism, or computer-assisted reporting.
  • Enhance public understanding of important city or regional issues
  • Engage in solutions around public affairs problems and/or reveal new information.
  • Be published/aired within six months of funding.


Learn more and apply now.

Application deadline: Sept. 16, 5pm ET

One rich resource of current data about Philadelphia that could aid these projects is Temple University’s Metropolitan Philadelphia Indicators project, which released its most recent Where We Stand annual report in July.

Learn more about how reporters and news orgs interested in civic engagement could use such data to create a community dashboard—an approach that can complement traditional narrative storytelling.

August 12, 2010

Fund Seeks Grant Proposals for Local and Ethnic Media Investigative Reporting

If you’re a reporter investigating issues in your state or local community, or are working on investigative stories for ethnic media, you could be eligible for a boost from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

The Fund is currently seeking grant proposals and is keen to support precisely those kinds of projects, thanks to a new $100,000 grant from Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

Grants range from $500 to $10,000, and the organization can also provide guidance on reporting and advice on placement, as well as mentoring with veteran journalists through a partnership with Investigative Reporters and Editors.

The Fund has a Sept. 8 deadline for its next round of grant proposals. It’s accepting applications through its website at

Learn more and apply now
Application deadline: Sept. 8



August 17, 2010

Workflow Chart for Online Editorial Gets Update

A simple, but effective visual guide to the increasingly non-linear news process has been updated by digital consultant Amy Webb, who first developed it several years ago to show newsrooms how the Internet’s myriad feedback loops could help generate more news and content for their sites.

The workflow chart shows how content can be reported, edited, published and “propagated” in an endless cycle of commentary, feedback, and additional stories. The new version now factors in developments such as the growth of geo-social networks like Foursquare and recommendation engines like Publish2, as well as the overwhelming popularity of real-time publishing sites like Twitter and Facebook.

You can download the chart here or via Scribd or Webb’s Knowledgewebb site. UPDATE: The workflow chart is also available in Spanish and Portuguese (and soon Japanese).

August 17, 2010

Pledge Tracker Gives News Audience a Tool for Government Accountability

Ever wonder what happens to all those promises made by campaigning politicians? British voters may now have a way to find out, thanks to a new pledge tracker tool launched Aug. 12 by the U.K.‘s Guardian.

The pledge tracker, modeled on Politifact’s Obameter, allows users to see what’s happening with some 430 promises made by the U.K.‘s new coalition government. You can filter by 15 different policy areas, learn which coalition partner made the proposal, and get the newspaper’s take on the proposal’s difficulty and its current status. The news organization also provides the larger context on each promise, with links to related source material and news stories.

According to a Guardian blog post on the project, it’s still in beta form, but goes beyond the Obameter, for instance by giving more levels by which track the promises. And one of the most versatile aspects of the interactive is its sortability. Users can combine different categories, so for instance,  the blog notes, they can see which easy-to-achieve Liberal Democrat-origin economic policies are in trouble.

There’s also a detailed writeup on the project and its origins and inner workings by Megan Garber of the Nieman Journalism Lab.

August 20, 2010

Knight News Challenge: Dissertation probes contest’s impact

he Knight News Challenge is a flagship program to spur innovation in journalism, now entering its fifth year. But what is it accomplishing?

Recently Seth Lewis, who just earned his PhD in journalism from the University of Texas-Austin, published his dissertation exploring exactly that question…

Here are some highlights from Journalism Innovation and the Ethic of Participation: A Case Study of the Knight Foundation and its News Challenge:

“I found that the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation altered the rhetorical and actual boundaries of journalism jurisdiction. Knight moved away from ‘journalism’ and toward ‘information’ as a way of seeking the wisdom of the crowd to solve journalism’s problems. This opening up of journalism’s boundaries created crucial space in which innovators, from inside and outside journalism, could step in and bring change to the field.

“The result of these efforts has been the emergence of a new rendering of journalism—one that straddles the professional-participatory tension by attempting to ‘ferry the values’ of professional ideals even while embracing new practices more suited to a digital environment. Ultimately, this case study matters for what it suggests about professions in turbulent times.”

The dissertation features both quantitative and qualitative analysis of the News Challenge, including lengthy excerpts from discussions with grantees and other key players in the contest.

Lewis lists three key takeaways from his research:

  1. “The Knight Foundation, to accomplish innovation, backed away from journalism, but these innovators [the News Challenge winners] brought journalism back in.”
  2. “In seeking to reform journalism, news innovators are not de-professionalizing journalism so much as re-energizing its ideals.”
  3. “It used to be hard to start a news organization but relatively easier to sustain one. Now that the equation has flipped—news innovators are struggling to institutionalize.”


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