The Knight Foundation supports “transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities, and foster the arts.” In 2007, the foundation launched the Knight News Challenge to promote the next generation of media innovation. The challenge occurred three times in 2012, with the first two challenges themed around networks and data.
Winners receive a share of $5 million and support from the Knight Foundation’s extensive network of influential people and advisors. Today, it awarded eight mobile media ventures a total of $2.4 million.
“In 2013 the number of Internet-enabled mobile devices is expected to be greater than the number of computers for the first time,” said Michael Maness, VP for journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation. “These eight Knight News Challenge projects, and the innovators behind them, are helping to stretch the ways people around the world are engaging with information and using it to shape their communities.”
The Wikimedia Foundation is one of the recipients, nabbing $600,000 to make it easier for people in developing counties to access its content. In addition to Wikipedia, the winners include:
- Witness: Helping newsrooms authenticate the deluge of photos and videos emerging from news events by creating an app that automatically stamps the content with identifying information, including the location where it was taken. The project is lead by the human rights organization Witness in partnership with The Guardian Project.
- Digital Democracy: Enabling residents of the Peruvian Amazon to document the effects of mining and oil drilling by creating a mobile tool kit they can use to collect and share data.
- RootIO: Piloting software that will connect basic mobile phones with a transmitter to turn them into micro community radio stations. The effort is being tested in Uganda.
- Abayima: Creating an app that turns a SIM card into a storage device for news and information. The app will be particularly useful in crisis situations, enabling journalists and others to safely transfer information when communication networks are compromised or disabled.
- Textizen: Expanding the ways governments can collect citizen input by enabling it through text. Piloted through Code for America, Textizen works by placing survey questions in physical places like parks and bus stops where residents will encounter them and can text in their opinion.
- TKOH: Creating a more natural tool for recording oral histories with an app that prompts people to tell stories when they see pre-selected photos or videos.
- Cafédirect Producers’ Foundation: Connecting small farmers in developing countries with advice and feedback via a platform through which they can ask questions and have them quickly answered by farmers in other communities. In the pilot, a Kenyan farmer received advice on frost control and tips on raising rabbits.
Over the course of the past six years, the Knight Foundation has put more than $32 million into funding 88 projects. In December, it partnered with San Francisco’s public media station KQED and the Public Radio Exchange to launch media accelerator program Matter Ventures.