By paulgillin | June 18, 2010 - 1:06 pm - Posted in Fake News

If the Knight Foundation didn’t exist, someone would have to invent it.

This week the organization that is doing so much to advance the cause of innovation in journalism unveiled its list of a dozen winners of the Knight News Challenge, a contest that “funds ideas that use digital technology to inform specific geographic communities.” Not all the winners are focused on geographic applications (one proposes to combine reports from journalists embedded in Afghanistan with Facebook updates from soldiers in the field), but there are some innovative ideas in the group that will get enough funding to at least get off the ground. The best part is that the winners of the $2.74 million in grant money must make their inventions freely available.

You can read all the details at the page linked to above or watch the short video below, which quickly covers each project. What we like about all these ideas is that they’re doable with today’s technology (several are live  today) and they bring focus to the overused concept of “citizen journalism.” Most are also oriented toward leveraging geographic communities, which is where newspaper publishers absolutely must focus. We particularly like these brainstorms:

Local WikiBased on Davis, Calif.’s, this application of the free-form  social software lets members create their own community Wikipedias. It’s a tried-and-true concept, and the grant will help make the customized software available to news organizations and community publishers.

WindyCitizen’s Real Time Ads – This new form of online advertising constantly changes, showing stuff like tweets and Facebook updates from the advertiser’s site. Adding informational value to ads is a great way to enhance their appeal. Perhaps Google is right that banner ads are due for a comeback.

GoMap RigaLets anyone create live, online maps of local news and activities. GoMap Riga pulls content from the Web and places it on a map. Residents can then add their own news media and comments.  There’s a mobile and social network integration dimension as well. Riga, Latvia will be the test bed. Lucky dogs. map-based news

Front Porch Forum – This site is already active in 25 Vermont  towns; the grant will help expand it to 250. The developer calls it “a virtual town hall space, helps residents share and discuss local news, build community and increase engagement.” Not flashy, but eminently practical with today’s technology.

CitySeedKind of like FourSquare, only with a purpose. This idea was hatched by the team of a professor and a recent graduate of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, CitySeed lets people plant and share geographically based ideas. So if you think the city should tear down this eyesore of an abandoned building on the corner of Elm and Main, you can geotag the spot and debate the idea.

TilemappingAnother geo-application, Tilemapping enables publishers to create data-filled maps for websites and blogs. We’re not exactly clear what this will look like, but map-based mashups will be critical to hyper-local journalism.

Full disclosure: We’ve done a small amount of  paid project work with Knight Foundation in the past.


In a recent profile in The Atlantic, Google executives hinted that they might be interested in providing paywall technology to publishers. Apparently they’re more than just interested. Italian newspaper La Repubblica says Google is actively recruiting publishers to sign up for a paid content management system it’s calling Newspass. The paper said Newspass lets people log into participating sites with a single credential. They can purchase content by subscription or item-by-item. Publishers have multiple options for collecting payment, including micropayments. says Google has had some ugly confrontations with news publishers in the Italy, over the issue of compensation, so this may be a show of good faith. The best line in the story is Google’s assertion that “we don’t pre-announce products and we don’t have anything to announce at this time.” Google pre-announces products all the time.

Comscore has a new way of counting newspaper site visitors and the results are encouraging for publishers. The latest audit says that 57% of the total US Internet audience visited newspaper sites in May. That’s 123 million people, and further affirmation that the product publishers provide is still popular despite their cratering business models. Comscore reported that newspapers are still able to charge higher fees for online advertising. Average newspaper CPM is $7, which is nearly 3 times the average for the total US Internet.

Huffington Post’s acquisition of Adaptive Semantics isn’t the start of a buying spree, according to CEO Eric Hippeau. But the company is keeping its options open. With $37 million in funding, it has that luxury. Adaptive Semantics makes a technology that applies intelligence and sentiment analysis to online comments. That should come in handy for HuffPo, which had 2.8 million comments in May alone.

And Finally…

This is possibly the most intriguing lead we’ve ever read on a news story. And no, this is not a joke:

“A German student ‘mooned’ a group of Hell’s Angels and hurled a puppy at them before escaping on a stolen bulldozer, police have said.”

If you want to read more (and admit it, you do), here are the scant details.



This entry was posted on Friday, June 18th, 2010 at 1:06 pm and is filed under Fake News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Comment

  1. June 18, 2010 @ 10:32 pm

    It is no wonder newspapers are loosing their podium. This Knight fiasco is another example. Top newspapers are clearly losing on the integrity front, Just see The Committee for Media and Newspaper Integrity.

    Posted by John