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Do you have a creative idea that requires the help of others, and perhaps money you
don’t have, but that seems like a way for your newspaper to increase traffic and rev-
enue? If you are willing to share your concept with others so they also might bene-
fit from your creativity, then perhaps you should be pursuing a Knight News
Challenge grant. But you must hurry – deadline is November 1.
The News Challenge program is a product of the John S. and James L. Knight
Foundation, which has invested in journalism excellence globally since 1950. Now
in its third year, the News Challenge will provide annual grant awards for five con-
secutive years, with a funding total of $25 million. The first year 25 applicants were
awarded grants; in 2008, 16 of the more than 3000 that applied received funding.
Grants have ranged from $15,000 to $5 million. The latest News Challenge tool is
called the Garage – a site where those
with an idea can work through the
process, solicit comments and ask for a
mentor. Clearly, the News Challenge
folks are dedicated to helping you suc-
I listened in on a recent Knight News
Challenge Webinar brought to us by
Editor & Publisher. Foundation President Alberto Ibarguen talked about the goals of
the News Challenge. “Our hope is that the projects we fund will be looked at by
others and copied and refined in order to give the communities we serve a better
sense of themselves. Along the way we hope to also inspire technological innova-
tion that will improve and enhance the way we communicate within the communi-
ties where we live and work. “
There are three simple application rules, but as Knight Foundation Director Gary
Kebbel pointed out, “Each is critically important and must be followed to the T.”
The ideas must be open source and digital, so that the products created can continue
to be used for free by everyone. They must also support news and information. “It’s
not a digital newspaper presentation,” said Kebbel. “The information could be a
database, a mash-up – anything that helps people learn more about their community
and the people in it and act on that information.”
The concept must be specific to a geographic community. “Your idea should unite
people, help identify one community, one group and one person to another and give
them information to act on,” said Kebbel.
Media consultant Amy Gahran, with her I, Reporter co-founder Adam Glenn, was
awarded $90,000 in 2007. Together they are creating a digital Boulder, CO look at
the city’s implementation of the first carbon tax in the U.S .
“They want pioneer projects,” Gahran said about the News Challenge grantors.
“But keep in mind that pioneers were the ones with the arrows in their backs. It
takes courage.” She said that applicants can send in multiple ideas and applications.
She and Glenn submitted 14. “Some things will not work,” Gahran said. “Knight
wants to learn as much as they can from all these things that they’re funding. When
things don’t work talk to the Knight Foundation folks and tell them sooner rather
University of Minnesota colleagues Nora Paul and Kathleen Hansen are using their
$250,000 News Challenge grant to create Playing the News, a news simulation
(game) environment which lets users play through the complexities of an evolving
news story by interacting with the newsmakers. Paul, the University’s Director of
New Media Studies, talked about the importance of seeking feedback about your
grant application. “The more you articulate the idea that makes it easy for someone
who can’t fill in all the details, the better. Have them tell you what doesn’t make
sense and is not clear.”
The Knight Foundation News Challenge should be important to you, and not just
because of the potential for funding. Awarded concepts could be fodder for your own
new ideas, or might even be products that you could use free of charge to grow your
local community presence, your audience and your digital revenue.
Launching Your Great New Ideas -
The Knight News Challenge Can Help
Sales & Marketing Manager
We will help you.
We put classified
revenue on the map.
Print. Online. Mobile.
Give your advertisers
what they want.
Visit the Knight News Challenge Garage at www.garage.newschallenge.org
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