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Sept. 6, 2012, 4:56 p.m.

Local environmental news, health care coverage, and data reporting are among the many projects the Knight Foundation is funding through a new round of the Knight Community Information Challenge. In total, the foundation awarded $3.76 million for 20 projects.

Similar to the News Challenge, the Information Challenge funds innovative projects that incorporate news and information. The differences are the emphasis on specific communities and the connection to local foundations. Among this year’s winners:

Data: The Boston Foundation was awarded $137,000 to train community members in the city’s various neighborhoods on how to access public data and use data visualization tools. The visualizations will be used for neighborhood blogs or other news sites. Similarly, in Chicago, the Chicago Community Trust plans to create apps that help the public better access government data.

Rural news: The Oregon Community Foundation will create the Northwest News Cooperative, which will work with existing media (including Oregon Public Broadcasting) to syndicate news in rural parts of the state. The Maine Community Foundation will use its $52,000 award to create a news service for older adults in rural parts of the state. In Wyoming, Wyofile, a past recipient of Knight funding, will hire additional staff to cover the legislature and the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Environmental news: The News Outlet, an investigative project based on university campuses in Ohio, plans to collaborate with an NPR affiliate to cover oil and gas drilling around the state. In Buffalo, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo will hire a full-time reporter to work with a collection of news outlets in Western New York to provide coverage of environmental issues.

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