Knight News Challenge announces 16 winners

The fifth John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight News Challenge has selected 16 winners, among them “hacker/data journalists,” the Chicago Tribune, a plan to provide microloans to support journalism, and more.

This year, almost a third of the US$4.7 million in grants is going to help journalists and the public organise and analyse massive amounts of data, Poynter’s Steve Myers pointed out.

The Associated Press’ grant, for example, will fund a project called Overview, aimed to help journalists sift through large amounts of documents for stories. In its proof of concept, Overview scanned 400,000 documents from Iraq war logs and gave each incident a colored dot based on keywords in order to find themes. The project will receive $475,000 over two years.

Overview will is a “tool that helps make sense of the material in those caches will help journalists and citizens alike better understand the world,” and will be shared with other news organisations and groups, said AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll, according to ABC News.

For the first time, Knight asked for applications in four categories when it opened the contest in the autumn: mobile, sustainability, authenticity and technology in community. More than 1,600 applications were received.

“In evaluating the projects, we looked for the best ones, independent of category. We saw a lot of ideas in mobile; not as many ideas related to business models advanced deep in the contesst [sic]. Of the 16 projects before you, only one relates to potential business models for news,” Knight’s John S. Bracken wrote today.

Knight trustees made a five-year commitment in 2006, and this marks the fifth year. However, the News Challenge is expected to continue, and more details will emerge this autumn, Bracken stated.

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