FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEÂ
Knight Foundation Spurs New Round of Local News and Information Projects Nationwide
Knight Community Information Challenge Winners Are Part of a Growing Number of Local Foundations Seeking to Meet Local Information Needs
MIAMI (Jan. 13, 2010) – Twenty-four innovative ideas that will help meet America’s information needs have received $4.3 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The projects – submitted by community and place-based foundations nationwide in a Knight Foundation contest – include:
Examining the Chicago area’s changing media landscape – and funding journalism innovators to fill the information voids;
Creating information campaigns to spread the word about pressing issues, including how to end gun violence in New York City, and improve early childhood education in Boulder, Colorado, and Funding journalists and online news sites in Wyoming, Arkansas, Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida to produce news in the public interest.
The projects represent the second-year winners of the Knight Community Information Challenge, a five-year, $24 million contest that helps community and place-based foundations find creative ways to use new media and technology to keep residents informed and engaged.
“Information is as important to a thriving democracy as clean air, jobs and schools. As leaders, local foundations are taking the initiative to meet those information needs,” said Trabian Shorters, Knight Foundation’s vice president for communities, who leads the challenge. “These projects help ensure that everyone has the information necessary to make decisions about their governments and their lives.”
Among the winners – a full list is below – are foundations rural and urban, large and small. For the first time, several foundations joined together this year to create regional projects for greater impact.
All are part of a growing movement to help fund local news and information projects and ensure that residents are informed and engaged. In fact, J-Lab, the Institute for Interactive Journalism, recently found that more than 207 foundations have funded $135.86 million in grants to 128 projects since 2005.
The Chicago Community Trust, one of the nation’s oldest community foundations, is now a two-time winner. With its grant, the trust will expand its Community News Matters program, which fosters new ways of informing the Chicago region through grants to local media innovators. In addition, the trust will conduct a study examining strengths and weaknesses of the area’s information infrastructure and convene a conference on the topic.
“The Trust, like other community foundations, is acutely aware of the changing media landscape in our communities. We recognize that access to information is essential for the quality of life and democracy of those we serve,” said Terry Mazany, the Trust’s president and CEO. “We applaud Knight Foundation for motivating community foundations across the nation to become real laboratories invested in the development of the future of community news and information.”
The challenge complements the sweeping recommendations of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, a joint project of the Aspen Institute and Knight Foundation.Â In its report issued in October, the Commission asserts that democracy in America is threatened by the lack of equal access to quality information. In addition to 15 urgent recommendations, the report provides a checklist that communities can use to determine which information needs are being met, and which need attention. The report is available at www.knightcomm.org.
Both the Knight Commission and the Knight Community Information Challenge are part of Knight Foundation’s Media Innovation Initiative, a $100 million plus effort to meet America’s information needs. More at www.knightfoundation.org/mii
Knight Foundation will again accept applications for the Knight Community Information Challenge beginning in early February. For more information on the challenge, visit www.informationneeds.org
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. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote community engagement and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.