Amid the digital disruption for journalism, the U.S.-based Knight Foundation has made a
highly publicized effort to shape the nature of news innovation. This growing influence raises
questions about what it’s trying to accomplish, for mass communication and society. This
qualitative case study shows how and why the Knight Foundation has sought to change
journalism by renegotiating its boundaries. Namely, by downplaying its own historical
emphasis on professionalism, the foundation has embraced openness to outside influence—
e.g., the wisdom of the crowd, citizen participation, and a broader definition of “news.” These rhetorical adaptations have paralleled material changes in the foundation’s funding process, typified by the Knight News Challenge innovation contest. In recent times, the foundation has
undergone a further evolution from “journalism” to “information.” By highlighting its
boundary-spanning interest in promoting “information” for communities, the Knight
Foundation has been able to expand its capital and influence as an agent of change among
fields and funders beyond journalism.
This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in the Mass Communication & Society (forthcoming)}
Lewis, Seth C..
From Journalism to Information: The Transformation of the Knight Foundation and News Innovation.
Taylor and Francis.
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