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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. 31, 2015 / Justin Ellis
Building a j-school from scratch: How The New School aims to bring journalism and design together — It’s that time of year: Journalism students are returning to campus, charting their courses for the next semester, and professors are fine-tuning their syllabi. Turmoil in the news business means that many professo...
Aug. 20, 2015 / Justin Ellis
ProPublica expands news apps and networked reporting with new funding from Knight Foundation — Since its earliest days, one thing that helped distinguish ProPublica from other news outlets — aside from its nonprofit status and focus on investigations — was its reliance on sharing. That took a number of forms, ...
Aug. 14, 2015 / Justin Ellis
How Connecticut’s largest public media outlet worked with IDEO to reimagine its future — Public radio is wrestling with issues like the increasing shift in how people listen to audio, moving from live-streaming their favorite programs to listening on-demand. There are also more existential questions about ho...
Aug. 13, 2015 / Shan Wang
New Knight-Vice Innovators Fund winners are creating tools for global audiences — Four journalists working on global reporting projects and tools have been named as part of the inaugural class of Knight-Vice Innovators. The winners are funded through a collaboration between the Knight Foundation, Vice...
Aug. 4, 2015 / Dan Kennedy
In New Haven, a low-power FM experiment seeks local conversation — and financial sustainability — John Dankosky stood before the 20 or so fledgling radio hosts who had crowded into the New Haven offices of La Voz Hispana de Connecticut and told them not to be afraid to assert themselves in the face of an overly talka...

Recently around the web, from Mediagazer:

Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: October 17, 2013.
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Explore: Current TV
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Current is a youth-oriented cable television network and website co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore. The network airs original news and entertainment programming with a heavy emphasis on viewer participation, including Vanguard, a documentary series produced by young journalists. It was described as “MTV without the music” at its launch in August 2005. Current’s…

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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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