DocumentCloud, the proposal for a searchable, free, public online database of public records backed by the New York Times and ProPublica, has been granted $719,500 by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The project was one of nine grantees to receive money from this year's Knight News Challenge, which is currently giving funding of $5.1 million to support 'ideas and projects that use digital news or information to inform and inspire geographic communities'.

In its third year, the challenge specifically wanted to reward 'digital experiments to transform community news and information exchange'.

Speaking to in September last year, Aron Pilhofer, New York Times newsroom interactive technologies editor, said the Times had already developed 'a small portion' (for example here) of the software for DocumentCloud, which, along with other software, will complement a 'consortium' of news groups participating and developing a set of standards.

Ushahidi, which was set up to help bloggers and citizen journalists share information about political violence in Kenya, received $70,000; while Salon co-founder Scott Rosenberg was granted $335,000 for Media Bugs, a project to help the public track and resolve errors in news coverage.

Previous winners include Adrian Holovaty's Everyblock and Tim Berners-Lee's 'source tagging' initiative, The Transparent Journalism project.

A full list of the 2009 award winners is available on the News Challenge website.

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