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Applauding the 2011 Knight News Challenge winners

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 11:49 AM

(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog and the Google Public Policy Blog)

Over the past few months, we’ve announced $5 million in grants to be distributed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the International Press Institute—two non-profit organizations developing new approaches to journalism in the digital age—and we’re pleased to congratulate the first initiatives that have been selected as part of that funding.

Today at M.I.T., the Knight Foundation showcased 16 projects selected as the winners of the 2011 Knight News Challenge. Now in its fifth year, this media-innovation contest included $1 million in support from Google. As you’ll see in the full list of winners, these initiatives come from organizations large and small and are reminders that entrepreneurship can be sparked anywhere. Here are just a few examples of the creative ways the journalism community around the world is merging traditional skills with an online landscape:

  • At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, OpenBlock Rural will use its seed money to work with local governments and community newspapers across the state to collect, aggregate and publish data.

  • In Virginia, the Miller Center Foundation’s State Decoded will serve as a platform to display state codes, court decisions and information from legislative tracking services to make government more understandable to the average citizen.

  • The Chicago Tribune will collaborate with the Investigative Editors & Reporters organization and The Spokesman-Review on a set of open-source, web-based tools that make it easier for journalists to use and analyze data.

  • Liverpool, U.K.-based ScraperWiki will bring its experiences with public data to journalism camps in 12 U.S. states.

  • Chile’s El Mostrador will develop an editorial and crowdsourced database to bring greater transparency to potential conflicts of interest.

  • Ushahidi will build off its past crisis efforts to improve information-verification across email, Twitter, web feeds and text messages.


Other winning proposals tell rich multimedia stories, bridge the gap between traditional and citizen media and further improve the utility of data to journalists. Our sister program in partnership with the International Press Institute is also well underway. The entries in that competition are now in and the winners will be announced later this summer. We look forward to seeing the impacts these initiatives have on digital journalism and hope they encourage continued experimentation and innovation at the grassroots level.