Knight News Challenge

The Knight News Challenge accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Winners receive a share of $5 million in funding and support from Knight’s network of influential peers and advisors to help advance their ideas. The first round of 2013, which opens in February, will invite innovators from all disciplines to focus on tools for open government. In 2012, three challenge rounds, each focused on an emerging trend, drew more than 2,500 entries.

Challenge 1 - on NETWORKS: Winners were announced June 18.

Challenge 2 - on DATA: Winners were announced Sept. 20.

Challenge 3 – on MOBILE: Winners were announced Jan. 17.

Anyone, anywhere can apply for the challenge - whether for-profit start-ups or non-profit ventures. For more information on a variety of topics - from guidelines for for-profits, on intellectual property licensing, open source software and more - visit our FAQ.

Project Mobile Connections

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1. What is your project? [1 sentence]

In response to the decline in community journalism, Project Mobile Connections will train nonprofits, neighborhood associations and their stakeholders across the country – using online classrooms - to create their own “local-local” community information and news coverage using mobile devices.

2. How will your project use mobile tools and approaches? [2 sentences]

Our expertise using mobile devices for video production, breaking news and information blogs and social media publishing – along with our success with online education in the field of multimedia journalism – give us the background to launch a major mobile-focused citizen journalism initiative. Ball State University’s Unified Student Media program provides the needed academic infrastructure to develop a six- to 12-week community-training program whereby those who complete it receive a Certificate in Citizen Journalism. 

3. Who will use it and why? [1 sentence]

Mobile devices significantly streamline the content production and delivery process, lowering the cost to produce useful content for neighborhood groups and others with a need to communicate quickly and efficiently with their constituents and helping neighborhood groups tell their stories, keep residents informed, mobilize their members when action is needed and let residents understand that their common interests can be a powerful social good. 

4. Please list three ways they would learn about your project.

1.     Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter are natural ways to push out this content. Project Mobile Connections can prove the effectiveness of its mobile-based, online-driven education and training model on a local basis and set the stage for propagating this knowledge nationwide.

2.     Direct contact with neighborhood associations. Indianapolis, for example, is the nation’s 12th largest city but still has substantial deficits when it comes to neighborhood public affairs coverage. Though it has a daily newspaper, four network TV affiliate news operations and other media, most of the community goes uncovered except for crime news and major developments.

3.     Government entities connected to neighborhoods. Indianapolis has more than 300 registered neighborhood groups that have deep community ties, established relationships with residents and local government, and substantial communications needs.

5. What connections have you made, or will you make, with others [communities, organizations or networks] about your project? [2 sentences]

In a pilot survey, our group discussed communications strategy with the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations, a long-established umbrella group that represents its member organizations in dealings with public officials, holds monthly meetings and advocates for residents. MCANA’s leadership expressed strong interest in a training program to help local neighborhood groups communicate more effectively using mobile devices, social media and video.


6. What part of the project have you already built? [1-2 sentences, feel free to include links]

Here is a demonstration video – produced using only a low-end, point-and-shoot still camera – that shows the capability of multimedia content in a neighborhood-based, social media context. Here the challenge was to use multimedia’s storytelling capabilities to explain a mundane but vital topic – neighborhood flooding:

7. What does success for your project look like? [1-2 sentences]

Across the country, citizen groups have more networking options than ever before, but also lack the needed journalistic and mobile production training. A successful Project Mobile Connections would create an engaged, robust discussion and training on targeted social media channels, and which would connect neighborhoods within a city.

8. What resources do you need to succeed? [1-2 sentences]

Smartphones, tablet devices and laptops would be the primary tools; faculty and student teams would connect with a specific neighborhood group and develop course work that – when completed – leaves participants with the skillsets to be citizen journalists.

Additional details: Our team is experienced in creating online lessons in content production. We helped design and deliver Ball State University’s Emerging Media Journalism Certificate, offered through The New York Times Knowledge Network.

Please list who is on your team:
Professor John Strauss, advisor, Ball State University’s The Daily News (campus newspaper), Professor Juli Metzger, Interim Director of Unified Student Media, Ball State University, and Professor Michael Hanley, Director of the Institute for Mobile Media Research, Ball State University.

Expected number of months to complete project:
Estimated Project Cost:
Name: Juli A. Metzger
Email address:
Organization [if applicable]: Ball State University, Department of Journalism, Unified Student Media
City: Muncie, IN
Country: USA
How did you learn about the contest?
Your website