Knight News Challenge – How’s It Working Out?

The Knight News Challenge — a five-year media innovation contest designed to reward new ideas for gathering, sharing and using local news and information — was launched in late 2006.

It’s a time that seems much longer ago than five years. In 2006:

  • The iPhone was a rumor,
  • Twitter was used only for internal communications at a company called ODEO,
  • RSS was the future of Internet distribution,
  • Netflix had 5.6 million customers (compared to 24 million today).

A lot has happened since then, and the news industry has remained in great flux.

In a search for bold local news and media experiments, Knight Foundation has so far pledged almost $22 million to four sets of contest winners. Recently they also commissioned and published an independent, interim assessment of the first and second year’s winners. The early years were selected, as it was decided that enough time had elapsed since those grants were awarded for early measures of effectiveness and impact to be evaluated.

The report (PDF) details:

  • grantee outcomes and effectiveness,
  • challenges grantees have faced and key areas of learning regarding media innovation,
  • an analysis of each winner’s progress to date (in many cases, individual projects are still evolving as they continue to impact their targeted field and communities).

The assessment contains insights that the Knight Foundation (an MCF member) hopes funders, organizations, and individuals working on the future of news and information will find valuable.

Susan Stehling, MCF

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