Knight Foundation Awards $4.2 Million to Launch News Innovation Lab at Northwestern

Knight Foundation Awards $4.2 Million to Launch News Innovation Lab at Northwestern

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced a four-year, $4.2 million grant to create the Knight News Innovation Laboratory at Northwestern University.

A joint initiative of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism and the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Knight Lab will bring journalists and computer scientists together to accelerate local media innovation through the creation of digital tools, partnerships with media organizations, and efforts to expanded the media innovation community. The work will be carried out under the auspices of the Medill-McCormick Center for Innovation in Technology, Media, and Journalism, which was created in 2009 to drive the development of innovative ideas, media technologies, and products.

In partnership with Chicago-based media organizations, the lab will work to test, deploy, and refine technologies that help media organizations create and package content, engage audiences, and improve their capacity to finance an improved flow of local news and information. It will also work with a variety of organizations, from large media companies to nonprofits serving niche audiences, to foster an environment of innovation that can be replicated elsewhere.

The initiative hopes to maximize the use of open-source software already developed through the $25 million Knight News Challenge and by other grantees of the foundation's $100 million media innovation initiative. To that end, the lab will review the News Challenge software, identify projects with the greatest value for local publishers, and improve the technology so it can be easily deployed.

"To advance journalism excellence in the digital age, we must use the tools of the digital age," said Eric Newton, Knight Foundation's vice president for journalism. "We hope this pioneering partnership between a school of journalism and a school of engineering will demonstrate how a major university can speed up media innovation in its surrounding community."

"Knight News Innovation Laboratory Launches at Northwestern University." John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Press Release 02/03/2011.