In recent years, the Knight News Challenge has emerged as one of the most important
forums for stimulating innovation in journalism and as a salient marker of the Knight
Foundation’s influence in the field. However, scholarly literature has yet to discuss this
contest’s design and execution, its applicants and winners, and the implications for the
future of journalism that may be revealed in this process. This study examines content
analysis data for nearly 5,000 applications to the Knight News Challenge, exploring the
distinguishing features of its applicants, finalists, and winners. This analysis is presented
against the backdrop of a key conceptual question for journalism in the 21st century:
how does it reconcile the growing tension between professional control and open
participation? Results suggest that finalists and winners more often use forms of
participation and distributed knowledge (i.e., crowdsourcing and user manipulation) and
other features not typically associated with journalism (e.g., software development).
These findings are placed in the context of the Knight Foundation’s broader efforts to
shape journalism innovation.
Lewis, Seth C..
Journalism Innovation and Participation: An Analysis of the Knight News Challenge.
USC Annenberg Press.
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