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

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:
Aug. 27, 2014 / Justin Ellis
A new report looks for lessons in successful (and unsuccessful) Knight News Challenge winners — What makes a media innovation project succeed? That’s the question the Knight Foundation has been asking about perhaps the most prominent program supporting media innovation, the Knight News Challenge. Since 2007, ...
Aug. 11, 2014 / Joseph Lichterman
After a summer Back in the Newsroom, journalism professors are headed back to the classroom — Students in Howard University journalism professor Yolanda McCutchen’s intro to broadcast journalism class have, in the past, focused solely on learning to report, write, and produce segments for television. But wh...
July 25, 2014 / Ken Doctor
The newsonomics of how and why — Try this: Make a list with two simple columns. On the left, write Who, What, When, and Where. On the right column, write How and Why. Then, go to any news site — local, national, or global — or even to a print ne...
July 17, 2014 / Justin Ellis
Public records tools, reader metrics, and more among new Prototype Fund winners — The latest round of small grants from the Knight Prototype Fund includes several projects and digital tools that could eventually prove useful to journalists. A developer from Grist wants to build tools to measure audien...
July 3, 2014 / Ken Doctor
The newsonomics of The Oregonian’s new editor’s challenge — It’s tough to find a place with more news change than Portland, Oregon. At the center of that change is the new Oregonian. Like New Orleans, Cleveland, Syracuse, and most other Advance Publications dailies, it̵...

Recently around the web, from Mediagazer:

Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: October 17, 2013.
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Flipboard is a news-reading application for the iPad and iPhone that presents stories and links from around the web in a visually appealing, magazine-like fashion. It has proven to be very popular, often listed among the most downloaded free apps in Apple’s App Store. In May 2011, Flipboard CEO Mike McCue said the app’s users…

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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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