Background information on our survey of Knight News Challenge projects

If you’re reading this post because I, Chris Amico, or one of two other collaborators emailed you this link, congratulations! You’re one of the 64 projects funded since 2007 through the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge contest. These projects have been granted $21.9 million dollars over the last four years, and we’re curious to hear how they ended up.

A bit of background. Next weekend, David Cohn of Spot.us (not one of the trouble-makers) is bringing a couple dozen of us together for Hardly Strictly Young. It’s at the Reynolds Journalism Institute, sponsored by the Knight Foundation, and will be my first trip to Missouri. Over two full days, we’ll discuss facets of the Knight Foundation’s commission on the information needs of communities. Part of this, or at least what those of us running the survey think, is to help the Knight Foundation learn from the first four years of the News Challenge. It is arguably the most significant effort from news industry actors to inspire innovation within said industry. In other words, it’s been our only hope.

Unfortunately, there’s not much data for us to work with. Yet. The Knight Foundation has all of the winners listed on the News Challenge website, along with their project descriptions and amount granted, but very little information on outcomes. This is where you fit into our crowdsourced reporting project.

We have two sections on our survey form. The first asks for quantitative information on your project, and is intentionally required for you to submit the form. We want to know whether your project is still active, how much of you grant you actually spent, and whether you achieved your stated objectives. These responses will go on the big ol’ spreadsheet of data we’ll eventually release. The second (optional and/or anonymous) section asks for a qualitative perspective on your project, including how it was successful, what challenges you faced, and what you thought of your experience with the News Challenge. These questions are intentionally broad. If you decide to respond anonymously, we won’t publish the remarks with your name (if we choose to publish them).

This data is quite important. Thank you in advance for taking at least a few minutes to respond. To make things fun, we’ll be updating a public list of who has and hasn’t yet responded. So encourage your friends who haven’t yet replied to do so. I’d like to thank On The Media for the creative idea.

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