Knight Foundation

The News Challanege is run by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The Knight Foundation is to continue its News Challenge project beyond the initial five-year experiment, increasing it from an annual contest to be run three times a year from 2012.

Addressing the World Editors Forum in Vienna, Eric Newton, senior advisor to the president of the Knight Foundation, confirmed that the contest would continue, supported by funding from external bodies such as Google.

The News Challenge is a contest which funds "new ways to digitally inform communities", awarding up to $5 million a year for ideas "that develop platforms, tools and services to inform and transform community news".

Newton told the details of future challenges have not yet been announced, but may see each one focusing on a different area, such as mobile.

He also said that the Knight Foundation has appointed a new vice president for the journalism and media innovation programme, Michael Maness, who was previously vice president of innovation for US newspaper company Gannett.

He is now looking at the last five years of the challenge to see how it can be improved, which prompted the idea of having three contests a year.

"The innovation cycle is so short that ideas can get old in the annual contest," Newton said.

"The other important thing to remember is that the news challenge changes every year because we're very informed by the technlogy community and by leaders such as Michael that iteration is the most important thing of all."

"Even once it is formally announced that we will do it exactly on these dates and exactly on these categories, that may be the only way we do it that year."

The winners of the most recent challenge, the final one of the five years of the initial project, included two British projects, ScraperWiki and the Open Knowledge Foundation.

In total the winning projects received funding of $4.7 million which included $1 million in support from Google.

"These projects are starting to be noticed by others who want to put money into the pot. Google put money in and into IPI for a similar contest," Newton told the conference.

"These kinds of innovation contests are now starting to go global so look for the contest nearest you and participate. There is not a shortage of good ideas if you seek them out in your organisations.

He also called on news outlets to crowdsource ideas from staff, with the best innovative projects often coming from "the least likely source".

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