The Knight Foundation has taken a lead in funding grants for promising new ideas for journalism, in particular those that exploit opportunities in digital media and are local in focus. The Knight News Challenge Grant is providing $2.74 million in funding to twelve projects that aim to inform specific geographic communities. The winners were announced at the Future of News and Civic Media conference at MIT and this year two grants are going to radio organizations.
The PRX StoryMarket is a project that allows any person to pitch or help fund the production of a story for a local public radio station. When the amount of money raised for a particular story is sufficient then the local station can hire a professional journalist to produce it. Proposed by PRX CEO Jake Shapiro, The StoryMarket received a $75,000 challenge grant and is built on software developed for a 2008 challenge winner Spot.us, which uses a similar model for online news in four cities, including Los Angeles and Minneaplois. The project PRX is the Public Radio Exchange which is seven year-old online market for public radio content.
Public radio station WBUR in Boston received a $250,000 challenge grant to create a laboratory in a Boston courtroom that aims to establish best practices for digital court reporting. Called Order in the Court 2.0 the project’s courtroom will have a designated blogging area with wi-fi and the ability to stream court proceedings live. The project, headed by WBUR executive editor for new media, John Davidow, will also publish a daily docket on its website and develop a wiki for common legal terms.
Once again, it’s impossible not to notice that the innovation happening in radio is coming from non-commercial, and in this case, public radio. This segment of the radio industry readily embraced the internet while at the same time emphasizing local service. I’m glad to see the Knight Foundation recognize the fruitful potentials in the merger of this old media with new.
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