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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:
March 25, 2015 / Joshua Benton
A new Knight Foundation grant will support the Knight Visiting Nieman Fellowships at Harvard — I’m very happy to pass along a bit of Nieman news: The Knight Foundation has awarded a grant of $223,000 to the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard (of which this website is a part) to support the Knight Vi...
Feb. 9, 2015 / Joseph Lichterman
Voice of San Diego, 10 years old today, is rethinking its editorial and tech around membership — Voice of San Diego editor in chief and CEO Scott Lewis finally has everything he wants. “I got the website I wanted, I got the money I wanted, I got the staff I wanted,” Lewis told me. “I’ve got n...
Jan. 30, 2015 / Justin Ellis
The Internet Archive hopes to boost its collections through funding from the Knight News Challenge — The staff at the Internet Archive is fond of Raiders of the Lost Ark, thanks in no small part to the film’s famous final scene. A lowly worker wheeling a crate — which just happens to contain the powerful and fac...
Dec. 9, 2014 / Justin Ellis
Why The Dallas Morning News is asking Hispanic parents to help cover education — Editors at The Dallas Morning News knew it was a story: Dallas area Hispanic families were facing a number of challenges in accessing early-childhood education programs. There were a few ways the paper could tackle it, l...
Nov. 19, 2014 / Justin Ellis
Jennifer Preston on leaving The New York Times, joining the Knight Foundation, and spurring innovation in newsrooms — Jennifer Preston has plenty of experience in the journalism business: “I’ve worked as a city hall bureau chief, a circulation marketing manager, a deputy metro editor, a senior newsroom manager. I ran news ad...

Recently around the web, from Mediagazer:

Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: October 17, 2013.
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The Star Tribune is a daily newspaper in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. The Star Tribune ranked in 2012 as the nation’s 17th-largest newspaper with a combined print and digital circulation of 300,000, and, according to analysis of  Compete.com data, the 18th-most-popular newspaper website. The Star Tribune’s holding company is Star Tribune Media Co., which is owned…

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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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