Knight News Challenge awards $4.7 million for innovative media projects

By Joseph Vavrus

Tools for managing, visualizing, and distributing data was a recurring theme in the 16 vanguard media projects that will share $4.7 million in funding from the 2011 Knight News Challenge. Since it began in 2006, the initiative, primarily funded by the John S. and James L Knight Foundation, has given out $27 million to 76 projects to promote journalistic innovation.

According to the Knight Foundation, among the 16 winners are:

* Traditional U.S. news organizations like the Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press, which both received funding to develop tools for analyzing documents and data.
* Unaffiliated projects like ZeegaTiziano 360, and FrontlineSMS, which are all developing software platforms to help engage audiences in different ways.
* International initiatives like Poderopedia (Powerpedia) from El Mostrador newspaper in Chile, a multimedia database looking to map political, professional, and personal relationships to monitor conflicts of interest.

The largest grant this cycle, for $500,000, was given to the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, which will focus on creating tools and a digital network to expand the role of citizens in research and data collection.

This year’s awards were slated to be the last of the five-year program, however John Braken, the Knight Foundation’s digital media director, said “it will not be the last year of this challenge,” Poynter reports.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.