Successful innovation in news and media is driven by a variety of factors, including getting the user interface right and remaining open to collaboration with other innovators in the space, a report from the Johns S. and James L. Knight Foundation finds.
The report, Knight News Challenge: A Review of the 2010 and 2011 Winners (96 pages, PDF), tracks the progress of the 2010-11 Knight News Challenge winners and outlines lessons for innovators on how to make news and information projects work. The report also opens a window on the foundation's approach to open challenges and provides guidance to funders looking to strengthen their own work in this area.
The study found that it is critical for funders to measure a project's success in terms of its impact on the field, as well as to provide support beyond funding. The report also found that news and information projects that are successful tend to address a tangible community need, develop fundraising and marketing plans that encourage buy-in from funders, identify appropriate staffing resources for different elements of the project, and rely on open-source code, enabling others working in the new media field to collaborate and push the field forward.
Conducted in partnership with Arabella Advisors as part of an ongoing review of the Knight News Challenge initiative, the study profiles twenty-eight news and information projects that received funding from one of the two Knight News challenges, including 2010 winner Front Porch Forum, which helped organize recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, and 2011 winner FrontlineSMS, which uses mobile technology to keep remote communities up to date with local, national, and international developments.
"Since the first winners were announced in 2007, the News Challenge has served as both a driver of innovation and a learning tool for what works and what doesn't," said Michael Maness, vice president for journalism and media innovation at the Knight Foundation. "Innovators can learn from both the successes and the setbacks of the projects profiled in the report and move closer to developing a model for promising news and information projects that benefit communities everywhere."