The Knight News Challenge is a grant program by the Knight Foundation for "ideas and projects that will transform community news." It appears that the grants also can cover information other than news.

The first winners were announced May 23, 2007.

One winner in 2007 was Chris O'Brien, for The Next Newsroom Project, at Duke University's Chronicle. As of early July 2007, this project appears to have made the most-public advances. (Also see the accompanying blog.)


Applications for the second round are being accepted starting July 1, 2007.

Eligibility is very broad, but projects must meet the following criteria:

  1. Use digital media.
  2. Involve new forms of news in the public interest.
  3. Focus on specific geographic community.

Some changes from the first to second rounds of competition are:

  • $500,000 for people 21 and younger, in a partnership with MTV
  • Applications online only
  • Ability for "open" applications, in which the entire online world has the opportunity to see, rate, and comment. For more information, see the interview with Gary Kebbel, the Journalism Initiatives Program Officer for the Knight Foundation, by Amy Gahran at the Poynter Institute, posted June 4, 2007.

The main questions for the summer 2007 Knight News Challenge, other than contact information:

  • Project Title, 255 characters max.
  • Requested Amount
  • Time to Complete Project
  • Total Cost of Project, Including All Sources of Funding
  • Describe Your Project, 2075 characters, approx. 325 words
  • Who Would Want to Use It, and Why? 830 characters, approx. 125 words
  • Why Are You the Best Person or Organization to Develop This Project? 2075 characters, approx. 325 words
  • (You may attach supporting material)

When you submit your entry online, leave the trailing slash off your URL. And in the "Amount" and "Cost" boxes, write just a number, no comma. Otherwise, it apparently won't be accepted.

Open entries
  • "Open" entries can be read by the public. Anyone who registers can also rate and comment on the entries.
  • The system apparently does not read paragraph breaks. All the text in a section is run together with space between paragraphs. Unclear whether this happens with "closed" entries. A possible work-around is to submit an additional word-processing file.


Entries made in 2006[]

(The Categories have since been changed; see "Entries made in 2007" below)

("If you can’t decide, enter in the idea category. If we have a better sense of where it belongs, we’ll move it.")

  • Ideas ("... think big ... ways for you and others to further develop the idea ... about digital experiments that improve news and information in actual, geographic communities ... blog for a year on a Knight-designated web site.")
  • Pilot project and field test ("support the development of innovative pilot projects, prototypes, field tests or trials that use news to inform or inspire physical, geographic community ... for real-life experiments designed to prove whether new ideas actually work. ... The best pilot projects tend to have sustainability plans")
  • Leadership (" ... to turn pilot projects into trends [or] ... find the best among competing technologies or ideas ... [or] bringing people together in new networks to achieve greater collective impact. The goal ... achieve large-scale impact.")

Entries made in 2007[]

Around Aug. 23, 2007, Knight changed the categories. The change was made during the period in which Knight was accepting applications.

The categories had been the same as for 2006:

  • Ideas
  • Pilot project and field test
  • Leadership
  • New business ventures

The new categories became:

  • General (open source, open standards)
  • Commercial
  • Young creators -- $500,000 has been set aside for people 25 and younger.


What they're not looking for

2007 Winners[]

Sources: Knight's List of Winners and news release

  • Center for Future Civic Media -- Christopher Csikszentmihályi, Media Lab and Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: "$5 million to create a Center for Future Civic Media to develop, test and study new forms of high-tech community news."
    • Co-winners:
    • Henry Jenkins, MIT Media Lab/Comparative Media Studies
    • Mitchel Resnick, MIT Media Lab/Comparative Media Studies
  • Chi-Town Daily News -- Geoff Dougherty, CEO, PublicMedia, Inc
  • Citizen Journalist Resources -- David Ardia, Citizen Media Law Project, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard Law School, and the Center for Citizen Media
  • Digital News Academic Program -- Rich Gordon, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University: "$639,000 for nine full journalism scholarships for students who have undergraduate degrees in computer science." Medill offers *Digital News "Incubators" -- Dianne Lynch, H. Park School of Communications, Ithaca College
    • Co-winners:
    • Angela Powers, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Kansas State
    • Ann Brill, William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Kansas
    • Ardyth Broadrick Sohn, Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies, University of Las Vegas
    • Jane Briggs-Bunting, School of Journalism, Michigan State
    • Kimberly Sultze, department of journalism and mass communication, Saint Michael’s College
    • Pam McAllister-Johnson, School of Journalism & Broadcasting Western Kentucky University
  • EveryBlock -- Adrian Holovaty, journalist and Web developer: "$1.1 million to create a series of city-specific web sites devoted to public records and hyper-local information."
  • "Ideal Newsroom" (Duke University) -- Chris O’Brien, The Chronicle, Duke University’s student newspaper more information about the scholarships.
  • Knight-Kauffman Center (ASU) -- Christopher Callahan, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University: "$552,000 to create an 'incubator,' where students will learn how to create and launch digital media products."
  • Mobile Youth Journalism (08 Election) -- Ian V. Rowe, MTV: "$700,000 to establish a Knight Mobile Youth Journalist (Knight “MyJos”) in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia to report weekly – on cell phones, for cell phones – during the 2008 presidential election."
  • NY News Games -- Gail Robinson, Gotham Gazette
  • Oakland Jazz Scene Game -- Paul Grabowicz, University of California - Berkeley
  • Open-Source Community News -- Richard Anderson, VillageSoup: "$885,000 to build free software to allow others to replicate the citizen journalism and community participation site VillageSoup."
  • Placeblogger -- Lisa Williams
  • Playing the News -- Nora Paul and Kathleen Hansen, Institute for New Media Studies, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota
  • Rising Voices -- Ethan Zuckerman, Global Voices, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard Law School
  • Wireless Philadelphia -- Todd Wolfson, Media Mobilizing Project of Philadelphia
  • Boulder Carbon Tax Tracker -- Amy Gahran, co-founder of I, Reporter
    • Co-winner: Adam Glenn, co-founder of I, Reporter
Bloggers (idea category)
  • Beat Reporters and Social Networks -- Jay Rosen, Department of Journalism, New York University
  • Community Media Toolset -- J.D. Lasica,
  • Dan Schultz, Carnegie Mellon University undergraduate student
  • Dori Maynard, president and CEO of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education
  • Interactive Community Spaces -- Steven Clift, Board Chair,
    • Co-winner: Paul Lamb, Principal, Man on a Mission Consulting and Co-Founder, Lambs on Love
    • Co-winner: Leslie Rule, director, Center for Locative Media
  • --G. Patton Hughes, CEO, Neomaxcom LLC
  • Related Items (for Drupal, a content-management system) -- Benjamin Melançon, Co-founder, Agaric Design Collective

External links[]

  • An official blog was here -- -- but the URL appears to have been hijacked.
  • Blog by the idea winners and press release announcing it
  • Poynter's E-Media Tidbits is writing a series about the grants.
  • Recent (June 5 2007) Online Journalism Review interview with Kebbel, by Sarah Colombo (covers: strengths of the 2007 Round I winners; and for Round II, a) "$500,000 for a special category to award ideas and projects created by young people" and b) "we hope for more international applications")
  • Older (September 2006) OJR interview with Knight's Gary Kebbel, by Robert Niles.
  • Digital Utopia gives a big-picture view of the 2007 winners.
  • Geoff Dougherty, a winner for the Chi-Town Daily News, says the Knight people are "insanely nice" and recommends talking over ideas with them.