In 2006, the Knight Foundation tried an interesting experiment. They invited anyone, anywhere to apply for a grant to build a tool, platform or project that helped envision the future of civic media. Global Voices applied for a grant as part of the Knight News Challenge, and Knight provided funding for Rising Voices, a project that’s been one of the most exciting, experimental and interesting things we’ve done at GV. Rising Voices tested – and proved – the idea that citizen media could work in parts of the world where very few people have regular access to the internet. Knight’s support helped us work with projects from inner-city neighborhoods in Bolivia to rural Mongolia. You can see the ongoing impact of Knight’s support in Global Voices’s coverage this week of the ongoing crisis in Madagascar – Knight’s grant supported our work with Foko Club in Madagascar, and some of the people involved with that project years back are sharing the news from Madagascar this week.
Applications for this year’s Knight News Challenge are due December 1, and this year’s challenge offers some great opportunities for applications from the developing world. The foundation is soliciting applications in four areas – mobile services, authenticity (services that help us sort through reports and find those that are credible), sustainabilitty (ideas that create revenue models for news) and community (projects that provide information for specific geographic communities.) Applications can come from anyone, anywhere, and winners in the past have come from around the world. Not only does Knight give financial support, but the community of past and present grantwinners is one of the most interesting and dynamic in the world of news and civic information.
Here’s a video from my friend John Bracken, who will be overseeing this year’s challenge. He answers some of the most commonly asked questions about the Challenge, and I hope the message you’ll take from his words is this: if you’ve got an innovative idea, apply. Very cool things have come from the News Challenge in the four years past, and the more global the submissions this year, the better chance we’ll have of cool things getting funded in the future.