Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Knight News Challenge 2010 Opens; Up to $5 million in Awards

Knight News Challenge Competition Offers
Up to $5 million for Community News Innovation

Contest now allows private applications -- deadline is Oct. 15

MIAMI – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is accepting applications for the 2010 Knight News Challenge, a contest awarding as much as $5 million for innovative ideas using digital experiments to transform community news. The deadline for applications is Oct. 15.

Do you have a big idea for informing and inspiring a geographic community? Does it include innovative use of new digital tools or processes such as social media, mash-ups or wikis? How about new ways to exchange information via hand-held devices like cell phones? Knight Foundation wants to know. "You invent it. We fund it!" is the 2010 contest slogan.

Open to community-minded innovators worldwide, the contest has just three rules. Projects must use digital, open-source technology, distribute news in the public interest and be tested in a local community.

"We want entries to push the bounds of the imagination," said Gary Kebbel, Knight Foundation's journalism program director. "But they don't always have to involve the invention of something completely new. We're also searching for innovative twists on familiar tools."

This is the fourth year of the Knight News Challenge competition. So far, 300,000 people have visited the project web site, at, a total of 7,000 people have entered and the foundation has picked 35 winners.

This year, applicants can enter in one of two categories. In the "open" category, submissions are available to the public for viewing and commenting. These entries can use others' comments to revise and submit their application or proposals. In a separate "closed" category, solely Knight Foundation staff and contest reviewers will see applications. Applicants who aren't ready to share their ideas publically can use this category.

"We wanted to have an application process that is broad enough to accommodate people's preferences," Kebbel said.

Want an insider's edge to the application process? The newly launched News Challenge blog features lessons from past winners and a behind-the-scenes looks at the contest judging. Also, Knight staff will answer questions during a live chat at 2 p.m. Sept. 9 and Oct. 8. Read the blog and participate in the chat at

In its first three years, the contest produced individual, private and public winners ranging from 20-something journalism innovators to the inventor of the World Wide Web.

One project, hyper-local news experiment, was recently purchased by – highlighting the market potential for innovative community information projects. Before it was purchased,'s code was published as open source, a challenge requirement that allows the public to benefit from the experiments.

The News Challenge is part of Knight Foundation's $100 million plus Media Innovation Initiative, which strives to help meet community information needs by, in part, seeding experiments that the market will ultimately sustain. Other projects address media innovation on various levels, including national media policy, broadband access and the evolution of the World Wide Web.

For more on the News Challenge, visit

For more on Knight Foundation's Media Innovation Initiative, visit

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950, the foundation has granted more than $400 million to advance quality journalism and freedom of expression. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote community engagement and lead to transformational change. For more, visit
Media Contact:

Marc Fest, Vice President of Communications, 305-908-2677,

News Release

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