Knight aims to ignite news innovation

For the second year, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami is encouraging innovators from across the U.S. to change the way communities get their news.

Through its Knight News Challenge, the funder will award $5 million to individuals and groups that propose new ideas for using digital media to connect people with their communities.

The goal of the program, which awarded a total of $11 million to 17 people and groups last year, is to use digital media to boost communities and improve lives.

“Virtual communities spring up every day,” Gary Kebbel, coordinator of the contest, says in a statement.  “They don’t need our help.  Geographic communities are the building blocks of democracy.  They do need help.”

The foundation plans to invest at least $25 million over five years in the effort.

To be considered, applicants must use digital innovation or new news forms and serve a specific geographic community.

Funded ideas last year included the distribution of youth video reports on the 2008 presidential election by way of cell phone; online games used to educate residents about New York City issues; and digital newscasts for immigrants in Philadelphia.

Applications are available online and must be submitted by Oct. 15.  Winners will be chosen next spring.

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