Journalism and Open Data Wins: Knight Foundation Announces Community Information Challenge Projects

The Knight Foundation annouced the winners of their Community Information Challenge, which will share a total $545,000 of matching funds. For the first time, according to the release, the challenge “prioritized awarding funds to Open Government projects” and those that focus on strengthening local journalism and those that promote government transperancy.

All of the project winners have fairly simple, almost obvious, ideas on how to use digital media, technology, and data based journalism to connect people and causes. Instead of reciting “hyper-local” three times and clicking their heels, these smaller organizations are actually practicing it. The problem with AOL’s Patch, for example, was that they focused on replicating a print model, and even layout!, to the digital landscape. Sometimes innovation is just using what’s in front of you in new ways. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

The Boston Foundation, receiving $50,000 in matched funds, is a partnership between public radio station WBUR and Glass Eye Media planning a “statewide education reporting project” to sustain a conversation about Massachusetts schools:

The project will use Glass Eye Media’s structured beat approach used in its site Homicide Watch, WBUR’s editorial resources and the Boston Foundation’s connection to the education community to build data, tools and change. The project will increase the station’s capacity to cover education, and build a replicable framework for effective coverage of education reform in other regions and states.

In Santa Fe, the New Mexico Community Forum will use $30,000 of matching funds to create a news sharing program. According to the Knight Foundation, local newspapers are thriving in the state, and this project hopes to connect those outlets with nearby areas who don’t have the same access to information, but are affected by the same issues:
Through the Community News Exchange, each participating newspaper will grant access to their content to an editor, who will then prepare news briefs and stand-alone stories to be shared with all the participating newspapers. All outlets will also benefit from original coverage at the 2014 New Mexico Legislature.
 You can see a full list of projects here. The Knight Community Information Challenge is also holding their seventh annual Media Learning Seminar in Miami this February.