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.
Mobile Main Street is a web app / native app that provides mobile storefronts (or as we call them, “story-fronts”) for rural media and small community businesses via community branded channels that aggregate social media and capture customize-able data streams with a hyperlocal narrative focus (think “Storyville” instead of Storify).
Our project is mobile exclusive and is designed to seed mobile technologies and mobile behavior in communities that currently have little to no access to mobile/social space. Mobile Main Street leverages trusted community voices into a well-lit mobile local brand that can build relationships with visitors, business, and enable transaction+interaction via android, iOS and tablet.
Local media in partnership with small businesses, artisans, buy local groups, chambers of commerce, visitors bureaus, and other community initiatives without the capital or knowledge resources to launch independent mobile brands, who can use the app collectively to tell a community brand story, build audience and mobile economic activity with both internal and external audiences — and they will do this because it is a free, simple, low-threshold tool for storytelling/relationship building in mobile space.
-We have the support of WVU’s University Relations Division and the School of Journalism’s Communications teams for widespread traditional and social media marketing about the project and the support of the WVU Technology Transfer Office and Research Corporation for licensing and bringing product to market as an open-source mobile publishing tool.
- Aggressive hyperlocal advertising thru local storefronts included inside of the app, and leveraging community media and regional relationships to promote app discovery.
-Word of Mouth.
We are already working with 4 diverse rural communities (with a 5th on way) to launch Mobile Main Street, each of which uses the system in a unique way, demonstrating its flexibility and ease, and one of which is running with over 75 business in one small community using the product to narrate themselves, connect to each other, and weave the social and business fabric of their community. One business member says of his use of the tool “In a world of cookie-cutter stores, I think people want more from their local businesses. They want to have a connection to what they’re consuming…we try to attach what we do to stories.”
Other organizational relationships developed via this research and that can be leveraged for outreach include Verizon, CTIA Wireless Foundation, Tucker County Regional Economic Development Group, Coal Heritage Authority, New America Foundation, WVUncovered, National Newspaper Association, AEJMC Community Journalism Interest Group, as well as 10 identified community regional groups eager to host local mobile initiatives in their own communities.
Perhaps most importantly, we have built relationships in our constituent communities and have committed beta partners region-wide. Our initial prototype was built as a web app and native iOS app, and more detail about the first phase of our project is available at mymobilemainstreet.com. We want to convert this early effort into an elegant streamlined open-source application with easy-to-install and manage “story”fronts for any community group to use.
Marginalized rural communities early adopting in mobile space and stimulating local mobile economic activity; Community media leveraging the app to re-capture former advertisers as community brand storytellers and successfully monetizing this aggregated mobile behavior under their media brand; Our being able to grow and scale to the increasing demand from community media and community groups who want to pilot the project and to release as a fully supported open-source tool.
And success looks like an acceleration of what we’ve already achieved: Growing from 10 partners (only 2 of whom owned smart phones) in one community to more than 160 business/media partners in 4 communities (not to mention engendering higher risk tolerance and an ability to adapt to persistent change among all community partners and project participants).
We are at a tipping point with unexpected growth from one funded community based experiment to 5 separate pilots and increasing demand from interested community groups and community media nationwide - we need to add one more developer to our team to adapt, scale and refine the system into an elegant open source product; we need to increase our server capabilities; we need to divert initial development funds to support a sustainable product launch; and we need additional funding to support one of the key initiatives of the project: We put a human face on mobile main street’s storefronts, and we provide high-touch local training and support for seeding mobile behavior and mobile expertise among rural community members to enable them to participate in local mobile economies, as well as to compete in a global mobile social, political and knowledge economy.
Please list who is on your team:
Assistant Professor Dana Coester, Associate Professor Joel Beeson, Developer Shaun Vendryes
Expected number of months to complete project: 12 months
Estimated Project Cost: $250,000
Name: Dana Coester
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Organization [if applicable]: West Virginia University PI Reed School of Journalism
City: Morgantown, WV
How did you learn about the contest? I’ve been doggedly applying to variations of Knight News Challenge for years and have participated in the Knight Media Learning Seminar…and I follow Knight Foundation activities anyway for inspiration and personal philosophical reasons.