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Key links:
Primary website:
knightfoundation.org
Primary Twitter:
@knightfdn

Editor’s Note: Encyclo has not been regularly updated since August 2014, so information posted here is likely to be out of date and may be no longer accurate. It’s best used as a snapshot of the media landscape at that point in time.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is a national foundation that funds a variety of causes, including journalism projects and organizations.

The foundation was founded in 1950 by the Knight brothers, who owned the Ohio-based Knight Newspapers, which later became Knight Ridder.

Since 1950, the foundation has invested nearly $400 million in journalism through midcareer training programs, endowed journalism chairs at universities, newsroom diversity projects, high school journalism training, the International Center for Journalists, the Knight Citizen News Network, the Knight Digital Media Center, and many other initiatives.

In recent years, Knight has increased its funding interest in journalism innovation, most notably through the Knight News Challenge, but also through other efforts. In early 2011, Knight launched a four-year, $4.2 million “test kitchen” at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, for instance, and partnered with the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation to embed technology fellows in newsrooms, a partnership that was renewed in 2013. Knight regularly gives grants to new journalism projects and news organizations and in 2011 began investing in news projects with the Knight Enterprise Fund. It also launched a smaller, quicker way of funding news projects in 2012 with the Knight Prototype Fund. However, it generally does not provide ongoing funding for individual outlets.

The Knight Foundation also gives grants to more established organizations, such as grants in 2013 of $985,000 to TED to measure the impact of innovative ideas and $3.1 million to New York University to provide community technology training.

(The Knight Foundation provides funding to the Nieman Foundation and the Nieman Journalism Lab, including for the creation of Encyclo.)

Knight News Challenge

The foundation runs the Knight News Challenge, a five-year annual contest that awards startup grants to innovative news projects around the world. The challenge gave its first awards in 2007 and its fifth round in June 2011. After its initial five-year run ended, the foundation announced that the News Challenge would be continued with three annual contests starting in 2012. The first of those contests focused on networks and resulted in six awards, and the second contest focused on data.

Through 2010, the challenge has funded 50 projects for $23 million. Past winners include EveryBlock, Spot.Us, Ushahidi, DocumentCloud, Chi-Town Daily News, Gotham Gazette, Global Voices, and Spot.Us.

The foundation and News Challenge’s primary purpose is to fuel innovation in journalism, and they have done so by broadening their focus to include the broader information needs of communities as well. The News Challenge also represented a shift toward a more open and participatory process for the foundation. The foundation requires each winning News Challenge project to release its code as an open-source resource for other organizations.

A video on the Knight Foundation’s mission:

Peers, allies, & competitors:
Recent Nieman Lab coverage:
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Feb. 22, 2017 / Shan Wang
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Feb. 13, 2017 / Ken Doctor
Newsonomics: The new Knight-Lenfest initiative gives a kick in the pants to America’s metro newspapers — For two decades now, daily newsrooms have been becoming digital. Now, finally into 2017, some of them are threatening to actually be digital, some twenty-two years after Nicholas Negroponte’s classic was published....
Feb. 10, 2017 / Shan Wang
Local News Lab relaunches its site, with new guides for local newsrooms on newsletters, events, and more — Are you a small newsroom focused on local news, wondering how to even begin growing one of those email newsletters that are being touted as significant sources of readership as well as revenue for your site? Is your news...
Feb. 9, 2017 / Joseph Lichterman
With $1.1 million in funding from Knight, OpenNews is becoming an independent organization — When it was founded in 2011 as a partnership of the Mozilla Foundation and the Knight Foundation, the central focus of Knight-Mozilla OpenNews was a fellowship program that embedded developers and technologists into news...

Recently around the web, from Mediagazer:

Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: October 17, 2013.
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National Journal is an American weekly magazine that reports on politics and policy. It is part of National Journal Group, a division of David Bradley‘s Atlantic Media Company. National Journal was founded in 1969 by 30-year-old attorney Anthony Carder Stout and investment banker Randy Smith, with the goal of creating a magazine that would cover…

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Encyclo is made possible by a grant from the Knight Foundation.
The Nieman Journalism Lab is a collaborative attempt to figure out how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age.
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