Knight Foundation Names Winners of News Challenge

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced the winners of its Knight News Challenge on Networks, which aims to accelerate breakthrough projects that build on existing networks such as Ustream or Twitter to create new ways of informing and engaging communities.

More than $1.37 million was awarded to six innovative media ventures. They are: ($360,000), which is working to create a streamlined platform for posting, finding, and watching live streams from around the world; ($340,000), which builds and delivers Web tools and local hubs for disaster recovery efforts; (undisclosed), which scans social network activity to provide newsroom editors with real-time information about what's resonating with their readers; WatchUp (undisclosed), an application for the iPad that helps people find high-quality news videos; ($355,000), an open-source Android platform that turns smartphones into smart sensors of people's real-world behavior; and the Tor Project ($320,000), which aims to mobilize a vast network of volunteers to create tool kits for journalists in harm's way to help them communicate more safely with their sources. and WatchUp will receive funds through the Knight Enterprise Fund, an early-stage venture fund that invests in for-profit projects aligned with Knight's mission. In addition to funding, the six winners will receive support from Knight's network of peers and advisers.

Launched in 2007, the Knight News Challenge aims to identify the next generation of innovations that help communities get the information they need. This year, the foundation has organized the challenge into three shorter, more focused rounds, with applications for the second round, on data, being accepted through June 21. The topic of the third round will be announced later this year.

"The future of our democracy depends on the quality and reliability of the generally shared information communities receive," said Knight Foundation president Alberto Ibarg´┐Żen. "How that information is received and shared will depend on innovative uses of digital technology that is rapidly evolving. Since we're just at the beginning of that technological revolution, it is hugely important to support innovators like these, who are pushing the boundaries of our understanding of news and community information."

For more information on each of the winners, visit the Knight Foundation Web site.