alberto-ibarguen_web.jpgThe Knight Foundation has proposed a new, five-year initiative that will seek to address news and information needs in local communities. The initiative, titled “The Knight Community Information Challenge,” calls upon community foundations to come up with innovative methods, using media and technology, to keep citizens engaged.
Alberto Ibarguen, president and CEO of the Knight Foundation, said that this initiative comes at a time when the media is undergoing rapid change and, as a result, less local information is readily available.

“As advertising revenue for newspapers and television news is down significantly, the way Americans are getting information has changed.”

He added, “The Internet has risen significantly as a source, and mobile devices promise to be the most dramatic new platform for the delivery of news and information.”

This is the fourth in a series of Media Innovation Initiatives created by the foundation to address the information needs of a community in a democracy. Others include the Knight News Challenge, the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, and the Knight Center for Digital Excellence.

In accordance with the initiative, the Knight Foundation will select the best proposals and – in addition to  making $20 million available over a period of five years – will provide them access to specialists that can provide resources and expertise.

The initiative will also host a Media Learning seminar in 2009 that will not only help the foundations to learn about the information needs in a democracy, but also offer an opportunity to exchange knowledge and review existing information-needs projects.

Ibarguen also emphasized the importance of availability of information in a community.

“Communities in a democracy have to have free flow of information,” he said. “However, the  disconnect will continue until we figure out how to once again deliver news and information relevant to the physical communities where we live.”

In addition to seeking solutions to local communities’ limited access to information, the Knight Foundation expects that the initiative will provide an opportunity for community foundations to provide civic leadership and, in turn, enhance the quality of journalism.

The Knight Foundation is a national non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Florida in 1990. It seeks out ideas and projects that can transform communities and journalism while helping them to reach their highest potential.

Since 1950, the foundation has invested nearly $400 million with 1,000 partners to advance quality journalism and freedom of expression worldwide.

How to enter the Knight Community Information Challenge:

Community foundations can visit to propose a project in 200 words or less between June 30 and Sept. 15. Those selected to submit full proposals will be notified within a week of receipt, and full proposals will be due Oct. 15. Each full proposal will be required to provide matching funds.
The number of winners will depend on the number and quality of applications.

Photo: Alberto Ibarguen